City offering incentives for affordable housing development along rail route

City offering incentives for affordable housing development along rail route

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are big plans for the Kapalama Transit Station area in Kalihi.  It will be located on Dillingham Boulevard in front of Honolulu Community College.  It's not about more homes for the wealthy. The City and landowner Kamehameha Schools says it's a place for locals to live.

"This is for middle class working families who live in Kalihi, want to stay in Kalihi," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is excited about TOD, Transit Oriented Development and went on a walking tour with us to talk about it.

"Look she is riding on a road that is not designed for bikes. We are planning to make it a more bike friendly community in TOD," said Mayor Caldwell, referring to a bicyclist riding in traffic on Dillingham Boulevard.

He says it's all about incentives.  The more affordable housing that's built the more units developers can build. The city will also drop the requirement to have two parking stalls per unit. Mayor Caldwell is hoping families living along the rail line won't keep two cars.  He also says developers will get lower interest rates.

"We're going to say if you build affordable housing, if you want to we'll give you a lower interest rate. You can use our bond interest rate which is lower than three percent. Tim that's really affordable," said Mayor Caldwell.

"We're thinking residential on the other side of the canal," said Elizabeth Hokada, Kamehameha Schools Vice President for Endowment.

Landowner Kamehameha Schools is interested and has big plans of its own.

"So imagine this is a beautiful water feature. Families who live here, work here, shop here, taking walks, joggers, bicyclists, maybe picnics along the side of it," said Hokada, as we stood along the bank of the Kapalama Canal.

They plan to build 2,500 to 4,000 residential units. They don't envision high rises, but more in the five to 10 story range right along the canal.

"You look here, this is a great water feature. Wouldn't it be nice to be kayaking here?" said Mayor Caldwell. "Right now it's not that friendly. It's hard to find parking. There is nothing really there. There's nothing really inviting."

The canal has become a haven for the homeless.

"Housing for the homeless, solutions for the homeless is a big problem for all of us," said Hokada.

That will take time to address. So will building units. It could be decades before the vision is reality.

"Just picture this place and what it's going to be, the train station there with new development phasing through," said Hokada. "It's not going to be all at once. As you know it takes time to build out a neighborhood."

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