Hawaii Community Development Authority board poised for developing Kakaako the right way

Some of the key members of the new Hawaii Community Development Authority board

Some of the key members of the new Hawaii Community Development Authority board

It’s been only a few months since a new board has been in place at the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the stage agency regulating developing in the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako.

But talk to people in the community, small-business owners in the area, state lawmakers and individuals on the new board, as I’ve done, and you’ll see that it’s already evident that the way Kakaako is being developed with scores of new high-rises being built, is beginning to change.

And for some, it’s a better, more smarter way of developing the area between Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki.

“Certainly, I do think our current board is no shrinking violets,” Tom McLaughlin, a self-employed private consultant and current board member told PBN. “Everyone is willing to speak up in public and ask questions. Some questions that appear to be shy, this current board shows no hesitancy in asking the tough questions.”

He noted that the board, which is mostly made up of small-business owners chosen under a new selection model, has been actively engaged in putting together a set of objectives going forward, involving issues of transacting the future of Kewalo Basin Harbor and how that portion of Kakaako is developed, and also reserved housing and taking a report on that issue done by the previous board and implementing it.

Then there’s the transient-oriented development process and the homeless issue that they are dealing with.

McLaughlin, an Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board member, said the key point is that the HCDA does not get enough money from the legislature to work on these projects.

“We need to find a way to prioritize or figure out where you get the biggest bang for your buck,” he said. “That’s the focus. It’s identifying what to do and come and prepare a legislative request for funding. When folks are clamoring and yelling about the homeless problem, and you’ve got no money to work on that issue, it’s a tough situation.”

Kalani Capelouto, who also is a board member, told PBN that he is hopeful that the HCDA places a higher emphasis on community when thinking about developments, while understanding the responsibility it has been asked to take regarding developing infrastructure to support needs in Hawaii.

“Development needs to work closely with the community to determine their needs and long-term goals,” the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale board member said. “Development should only press forward when the infrastructure is present to support it. What we see on Oahu is the stress caused to the community and lower quality of life when development outpaces the ability of the infrastructure to support it.”

Read more about the new board and its plans for Kakaako in Friday’s cover story in the print edition of Pacific Business News.

Duane Shimogawa
Pacific Business News

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