Kakaako high-rise in jeopardy while retail complex advances

Kakaako high-rise in jeopardy while retail complex advances

KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A proposed workforce housing development in Kakaako is now in jeopardy. Supporters and opponents of the 803 Waimanu Street project testified before the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) on Wednesday. The developer wants to build a 20-story tower with 192 apartments and 198 parking stalls. Critics are concerned that the development would be too tall and too close to neighboring buildings, but supporters said housing is desperately needed for working families.

"The complexion of Kakaako is changing and you have the authority. You have the authority. You are given that authority and responsibility to make sure that it's a balanced complexion with working families," said supporter Kaleo Paik.

The proposal calls for demolishing industrial buildings and constructing 192 apartments with parking for 198 vehicles. The income requirement for a family of four would need to be about $80,000 to $120,000. Critics collected more than 1,700 signatures on a petition to stop the project. Many living in neighboring buildings oppose the plan since the height would be nearly three times the maximum limit.

"You have seen for yourself in a site visit how this project will adversely affect the lives of residents who already call Kakaako home by allowing a building that is 284% taller and 70% closer than the current rules allow," said Imperial Plaza resident Bernard Nunies.

HCDA members determined that the building height and proximity exemptions being requested would adversely affect the neighborhood. They took the unusual step of voting to adopt staff suggestions to deny MJF Development Corporation's permit application. The developer has not decided if it will submit additional arguments before a final decision is made on August 7.

Meanwhile, another developer received a show of support. Several people testified in favor of Kamehameha Schools' $30-million dollar retail complex. "Salt at Our Kakaako" would transform an entire block bordered by Coral, Keawe, Auahi streets and Ala Moana Boulevard.

"Kamehameha Schools looked very hard in terms of what the area needed initially. In our minds, local-serving retail as well as spaces for young entrepreneurs for start-up businesses was more imperative for us," said Robert Oda, senior project manager for Kamehameha Schools.

Kamehameha Schools is asking the HCDA to allow some modifications. One request is to increase the height of a new 267-stall parking garage by an additional 20 feet. If the development permit is approved, construction would start in the second quarter of 2014.

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