A Vision for the Future Part 1

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Photo: Brendon Kalei'aina Lee

With the closing of the 2021 legislative session, we look back at one of the most divisive bills that did not make it out of committee. SB1334 would have allowed the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) to build up to 400 feet on lots E and I and allow residential housing on those parcels.

It came as no surprise that this measure met with fierce opposition from the community and within the legislature.

There are many things that do make sense regarding why OHA would seek to do this type of project in Kakaʻako Makai. If affordable housing for our people is a priority for OHA, then Kakaʻako Makai is not the place to pursue that. It would be cost prohibitive to build affordable housing there.

Market rate housing would make sense; the magnificent views that would be afforded to those projects could be marketed – no one would ever build in front of those views, making them extremely valuable. That is a great thing for market sales which would make those buildings anything but affordable. Each of those two parcels also bring their own challenges. Lot E, which is 60 years old, is full of asbestos and will be costly to demolish; lot I has a coral wall on it whose historical value has yet to be determined and may not be eligible for demolition.

That being said, here is one trustee’s vision of what could be. Everything I am about to start mapping out for the reader has already been agreed to by the other parties that would be involved, at least, in concept.

Photo: Map of Kaka‘ako Makai
Map of Kakaʻako Makai. The shaded lots outlined in red are owned by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. – Photo: Courtesy

Seven of the 10 lots in Kakaʻako Makai are available for development immediately: lots A, B, E, G/F, I and L. Lots C, D, K still have terms left on their respective leases.

Lot A is the single largest parcel, and a partnership between a major restaurant chain with Hawaiian-themed concepts throughout Hawaiʻi and California – and an influential businessman in the surf industry – has been developed. A new and innovative concept restaurant which would be the first of its kind, celebrating the contributions of wāhine to the surfing world, and a world-class surfing museum is envisioned for this parcel. This businessman already has commitments from every major surf industry company.

The Howard Hughes Corporation has already made it clear they intend to build a skywalk over Ala Moana Blvd. Having this walkway come across from their new development straight to this property provides many benefits to both parties. It eliminates the barrier of Ala Moana Blvd, provides additional parking options for the restaurant and museum, and provides quick and safe access for Howard Hughes projects to the beaches.

Imagine, “Rell’s Place” – in reference to the Queen of Mākaha – and world-renowned Native Hawaiian water woman Rell Sun, as part of the Eddie Aikau Surf Museum.

We will continue with Lot B next month, stay tuned…….