The Hawaii Community Development Authority is scheduled to hear plans from The Howard
The Hawaii Community Development Authority is scheduled to hear plans from The Howard

The Hawaii Community Development Authority rejected Wednesday two developers’ plans to develop a key portion of the lands surrounding Kewalo Basin Harbor in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako, but approved The Howard Hughes Corp.’s plans for the two other lots.

John Whalen, chairman of the HCDA board, said that the lot that both developers had plans for— the former McWayne Marine Supply site — is a key piece out of all of the three lots in question.

“The board has lots of concern with significant commercial development around the harbor and how it fits in with the central function of Kakaako as a harbor and accessibility for public uses,” he said. “Leasing public lands is a serious issue and commitment, particularly in public lands where there is adjacent public use. We understand the need to raise revenue for the state, but there are other ways we can do that and keep public spaces [intact].”

Whalen also had concerns that the current board did not issue the original request for proposals for the development of the three sites surrounding the harbor.

The Texas-based developer, The Howard Hughes Corp., had 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 Japanese-based firms Good Luck International Corp. and Hinamari Hawaii Inc., had 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 did 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.

The Kewalo Waterfront Partners’ project, over a 30-year span, would’ve brought in more than $100 million in lease revenue. It also would’ve been 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.

The HCDA voted 6-2 to approve Howard Hughes’ plan for this lot.

In the 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.

The state agency voted 5-3 to approve the developer’s plan for this lot.

In total, Howard Hughes lowered its project cost for improvements to the existing buildings and open spaces to $6 million.

Duane Shimogawa
Pacific Business News