Kakaako rebirth pushes forward


POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2008

Kamehameha Schools is forging ahead on a new master plan intended to propel the rebirth of Kakaako into a long-awaited hub for Hawaii's high-tech industry.






        Highlights of Kamehameha Schools' 29-acre Kakaako revamp:


» A 400,000-square-foot Asia Pacific Research Center, the first phase of which, expected to cost $80 million, could break ground as early as the end of 2010 and create 1,200 new jobs


» 2,750 homes on 29 acres mauka of Ala Moana Boulevard, to break ground at the same time as the Asia Pacific Research Center


» Kamehameha is requesting approval for a maximum 4.6 million square feet of density, which would include commercial space, pedestrian walkways and bike paths.



The revised plan, which comes as many developers scale back in the down economy, includes the building of 2,750 homes on 29 acres mauka of Ala Moana Boulevard and a 400,000-square-foot Asia Pacific Research Center—the first phase of which, expected to cost $80 million, could break ground as early as the end of 2010, according to a proposal the $9 billion trust expects to file next week with the Hawaii Community Development Authority. The total cost of the center, assuming the cost per square foot for the rest of the project remains the same, is estimated at $233.6 million.

The “;innovation technologies”; center, makai of Ala Moana Boulevard, would create more than 1,200 jobs.

“;We believe Kakaako has great promise for the economy of our entire state,”; said Sydney Keliipuleole, director of residential assets for Kamehameha, which owns more than 51 acres in Kakaako.

The vision is to create a “;vibrant, pedestrian-friendly and environmentally sustainable urban village”; over the next 15 to 30 years so that the next generation can secure high-wage jobs at the innovation center and live in a neighborhood populated by restaurants and businesses.

“;It's not enough to build research infrastructure; if you want to attract a creative class, you have to build the rest of the social infrastructure around it,”; said Paul Quintiliani, director of the trust's commercial assets division.

The center will be built on five acres behind the former Gold Bond Building at 677 Ala Moana Blvd. adjacent to the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine and the proposed cancer research center. The former CompUSA site is expected to be one of the first areas to be redeveloped.

Kamehameha is request- ing approval for a maximum 4.6 million square feet of density, which could change depending on what is actually built in the district.

Kamehameha abandoned a previous 20-year Kakaako master plan created in 1994 after realizing that it did not fully align with its values that tied into economics, community, culture, environment and education. The initial plan also was not as flexible as the latest proposal, which allows the trust to respond to future market conditions.

Furthermore, an initial life sciences project did not pencil out for its development partners, which is why Kamehameha is now choosing to fund the entire build-out of the first phase of the innovation center.

Kamehameha envisions a tree-lined central boulevard connecting existing parks, an open market and a variety of housing options, ranging in price. The plan allows for many existing small businesses to remain, and the reuse of some existing buildings in the gritty industrial neighborhood.

Bordered by Ala Moana Boulevard, Halekauwila Street, South Street and Ward Avenue, the revitalized neighborhood would be a mix of low-rise apartment buildings and commercial space and include pedestrian walkways and bike paths. The city also is planning its transit line at Halekauwila Street. At least 20 percent of the residential development is expected to meet affordable-housing requirements.

“;It's prudent planning on their part even as we enter into a down cycle to look beyond the down cycle and anticipate there will be better times ahead and to position themselves for the future,”; said Anthony Ching, executive director of the state's HCDA. “;Any plan in Kakaako will be carefully scrutinized for its development and change it will bring.”;