Ualena Street companies accuse state of business discrimination - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ualena Street companies accuse state of business discrimination

William Swider William Swider
Travis Fukumitsu Travis Fukumitsu
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In a letter dated September 17, the State Department of Transportation informed tenants that on October 1 appraisers will begin assessing the worth of eleven properties on the makai side of Ualena Street.

Some small businesses fear it's the beginning of the end. Tenants will be offered lease renewals but only if they agree to lease an entire parcel.

"We're a small business. We can't afford to pay the big rents. We can't afford to be one tenant. So it's not fair because they are offering leases. We know they're offering leases," said William Swider of TDK Autobody and Paint.

About twenty businesses sublease space on Ualena. Unless they pay for a whole lot, they'll have to clear out by December 30.

Swider and other business owners question if the state can find new tenants or if their spaces will remain empty.

"I'd hate to pack up and leave and then find in the end that we didn't have to do that. That's tough," said Travis Fukumitsu of Ian's Auto Body & Paint.

The state reasons it's easier to deal with one entity per property. Transportation department spokesperson Caroline Sluyter said DOT has a waiting list of businesses eager to move to Ualena street.

But Swider said if the state's plan backfires it will lose the money it's making now.

"Hundreds of thousands a month not coming to the state because they don't want to take the effort to deal with the tenant. Spectratone's been empty for four years now. That's $20,000 a month flushed," he said.

The state said that building at 2865 Ualena Street has remained empty because it contains lead paint and will eventually be torn down.

As for the other parcels, new lease holders will have to agree to maintenance and property improvement conditions.

If rail is built it will go down Ualena. It's unknown now how that will affect the tenants the state is trying to attract.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved

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