HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Pacific University sophomore Matthew Felton shares an apartment close to campus. It's pricey but close.
"I don't take any classes at the windward campus," Felton said. "So more housing down closer to the Honolulu campus would be definitely a benefit."
About 8,000 students attend HPU. But the school has no dormitory space downtown. HPU and Hawaii Lifestyle Retail Properties LLC, owners of Aloha Tower Marketplace, are talking about the university building dormitories in the retail and restaurant center, to house 250 students.
"If you have a lot of kids around, they'll bring a lot more activity," real estate analyst Stephanie Sofos said. "It will be exciting. They'll bring other people. They'll bring their parents. So they'll shop. They'll eat. It's an opportunity. You have to do something."
Seventy percent of the marketplace's space is empty. The shop across Michael Henderson's Star Apparel store has been vacant over a year.
"It's in a beautiful location. It's a fantastic facility. We're just really concerned about the fact that there's so many vacancies," he said.
HPU president Geoffrey Bannister said having dorms and academic programs in Aloha Tower could "strengthen our downtown presence, provide students with an optimal living-learning environment, and create the kind of urban campus experience that will be essential to the university's future."
HPU student body president Tim Lussier said students would bring in business.
"I think hundreds of students living down there will probably help the economy down there and make this a better place to go to school and do business," he said.
Henderson said Aloha Tower is plagued by not enough parking and insufficient promotion.
"I don't know if it's ever gotten a really fair chance to succeed," he said.
"Closer housing would be great," Felton said.
The marketplace is also entertaining other offers.