HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the rail lawsuits now finished the City can start buying property along the route in town again and the next few months will be critical in the negotiating process.
Revised numbers show the city has budgeted $202 million for property acquisition. It's already spent $42 million of that on 36 properties.
The eminent domain issue, where the City will buy some or all of a property even if the owner isn't looking to sell, can be a delicate process.
Rail work is well underway on Dillingham Boulevard. That street will eventually look very different because the train's pillars will go right down the center of the road. So the city will have to widen it to fit the cars. So far the City paid $2.8 million for the Dillingham Cafe building and paid $1,825,000 for the 7-11 building across the street.
Many more owners are waiting to hear how much land the city will take and what they'll offer for a price.
"In many cases the acquisition of a small sliver, taking along the property lines to accommodate for wider roadways and so on," said Dan Grabauskas, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) CEO.
Rail contractors were on site Thursday looking in the Dillingham area. A lot will happen in the next few months. Letters will be sent, third party appraisals done and negotiations continue.
"We're already behind but we think we can make up that lost time but we have some work ahead of us," said Grabauskas.
Talks don't always go smoothly. Two negotiations have stalled and entered into eminent domain.
One is 96-136 Farrington Highway, a property in the Banana Patch area near Waipahu.
The other is the Stuart Plaza at 945 Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City. The city is taking about 2,000 feet reducing parking from 17 stalls to 7. The City offered $115,000. The owner wants $742,000 saying parking is valuable space. There is now a lawsuit to settle the dispute.
Along the entire route HART estimates there are 196 properties that will be impacted by full, partial or easement takeovers. Of those 106 properties are in the city section from Kalihi to Ala Moana.