Hawaii agency delays decision on redevelopment of Kewalo Basin Harbor lands

Howard Hughes Corp. to start work this fall on Kewalo Basin Harbor redevelopment in Honolulu

Howard Hughes Corp. to start work this fall on Kewalo Basin Harbor redevelopment in Honolulu

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has delayed making a decision on two separate proposals from two developers on renovations to the lands surrounding Kewalo Basin Harbor in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako.

At its regular meeting on Wednesday, which lasted until nearly 6 p.m., the state agency that regulates development in the area heard once again from The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC) and Kewalo Waterfront Partners, a partnership between two Japanese firms, and planned to make decision.

But after heading into executive session, John Whalen, chairman of the HCDA board, said that the board needed more time to consider the two plans, and noted that some board members were not present to vote.

The board plans to make a decision on what to do with the three parcels surrounding Kewalo Basin Harbor at its meeting on Dec. 2.

The Howard Hughes Corp. has plans for all three parcels surrounding the harbor — the former McWayne Marine Supply site, the charter boat building site and the former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lot.

Kewalo Waterfront Partners, which includes Good Luck International Corp. and Hinamari Hawaii Inc., has plans to renovate four buildings totaling 45,000 square feet at the former McWayne Marine Supply site. Although Kewalo Waterfront Partners only submitted a plan for this site, it does plan to do small renovations at the other two lots.

Its original plan that mostly remains the same for the former McWayne Marine Supply site, which is between Ala Moana Beach Park and Kewalo Basin Harbor, includes a permanent indoor farmer’s market, food halls, a chef’s club, a signature cafe, a beachside cafe, a multi-use venue that could host weddings, a live music venue, a sunset lounge, a public viewing dock, a lei stand, a community garden, a water feature and a parking structure.

Kewalo Waterfront Partners, in its updated plan, broke the buildings down into five parcels, included a convenience store and refined the project’s architecture. Building heights also were lowered and more ground level parking was added.

Ron Iwami, president of the community group Friends of Kewalos, spoke in opposition of Kewalo Waterfront Partners’ plan mainly because it is too dense. He said he prefers The Howard Hughes Corp.’s plan because it is less dense and said that the developer has been listening to his group from the start.

The Kewalo Waterfront Partners’ project, over a 30-year span, would bring in more than $100 million in lease revenue, be responsible for $1 million in off-site infrastructure improvements, create 800 jobs and 250 parking stalls.

Howard Hughes, whose 60-acre Ward Village master-planned community is across the street and which manages the harbor, significantly scaled down its plans, including doing more landscape improvements and upgrades to the lot between Ala Moana Park and Kewalo Basin Harbor.

At the charter boat building lot, the developer plans to add grab-and-go vendors that will provide items such as bottled water, sunscreen, slippers and towels, as well as a take-out lunch place.

In former NOAA lot, the developer plans to pay homage to the “ice house” that was once located at the site and was used to supply ice to harbor-based fishing boats. The Kewalo Ice House would be transformed to include indoor-outdoor courtyards, bringing people together with shared interests in art, food, music and the ocean.

In total, Howard Hughes lowered its project cost for improvements to the existing buildings and open spaces to $6 million, according to Race Randle, vice president of development for the Texas developer.

Randle said the developer would like to renovate all three lots, and that whatever happens, the projects need to be holistically planned and implemented at one time because the lots surround a working harbor with many small businesses that need to be kept in mind as improvements are made to the surrounding lands.

Dean Okimoto, owner of Nalo Farms in Windward Oahu, opposesthe Texas developer’s plan for the Kewalo Basin Harbor lands and is in favor of the Kewalo Waterfront Partners’ project because it supports local farmers.

He raised concerns about The Howard Hughes Corp. already owning and operating the 60-acre Ward Village across the street, and that the developer would only be monopolizing the area even more if its proposals are chosen.

Duane Shimogawa
Pacific Business News

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