Pearlridge rail station is motivating development nearby

Pearlridge rail station is motivating development nearby

AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The future rail line from Kapolei to Ala Moana is expected to revitalize some of the neighborhoods along the route. There are big plans for the Pearlridge station on Kamehameha Highway near Kaonohi Street next to the Pearlridge Shopping Center.

If ocean front views are priceless than the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail is undervalued.  It runs from Waipahu to Aloha Stadium with sections looking more like a dumping ground.

"There is a great project in Atlanta called the Atlanta Beltline that has come into far worse neighborhoods than this and transformed the activity with round the clock activity on the trail," said Harrison Rue, Honolulu Transit Oriented Development Administrator. "The goal is to see not only transit oriented development but trail oriented development."

The vision is to redevelop vacant sites, add a bus transfer station with housing above and eventually transform the trail to a community focal point.

"Maybe there will be a bike rental center or a bike share system where you can take the train, go for a spin along the trail right next to the harbor," said Rue.  "The trail is one of our best investments. The trail already exists. The good thing about that is it's wide enough, there is room for people walking and biking."

With nearly two million people visiting nearby Pearl Harbor every year why not turn the trail into a tourist attraction similar to Kauai's popular Kapaa path where people walk, bike and picnic.

"This will work?"

"Yes. This is one of the ones we think will really work which is why it was selected as a catalytic project," responded Rue.

The other huge plan near the Pearlridge rail station is the redevelopment of the old Kam Drive In property that is across the street from the Pearlridge Shopping Center.

"The vision here is to create a community gathering place," said Bill Brizee, Architects Hawaii which is working on the Live Work Play Aiea project. "We're taking advantage of the rail being a quarter mile down the hill."

The first phase will have 82,000 square feet of retail space, followed by a 120 room hotel and up to three towers with 1,500 condos thirty percent of which will be affordable workforce housing.

"This is for police officers and school teachers and young architects who are just starting off their career," said Brizee. "It's creating a densified urban village."

Conditional permits for the $767 million development have been approved. Brizee says the sewage and infrastructure problems in the area have been addressed. They'll also be improving landscaping, sidewalks and signal lights down to the rail station a quarter mile away.

"This is the largest privately held piece of property along the transit system. This opportunity cannot be found anywhere else on this island," said Brizee.

The Kam Drive in development should break ground next year. All three phases aren't expected to be finished for 10 to 12 years.

The city is also negotiating plans for the proposed bus transfer station on Kamehameha Highway next to the rail station.  The trail rehab is more of a work in progress at this point.

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