UH plan to develop land around West Oahu campus draws skepticism

UH plan to develop land around West Oahu campus draws skepticism

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Rep. Isaac Choy, chairman of the House Education Committee, isn't sold on the University of Hawaii's plans to develop the land surrounding the West Oahu campus.

"Unfortunately their track record is not as good as it should be, in fact it's miserable," he said, after a briefing on the plans Tuesday. "I question whether they have the wherewithal to execute these things."

UH is proposing to use the land near the campus to improve the area and create a revenue stream for the university. Potential projects could be zoned residential or commercial.

"Not only add to that college town-type feel, but also contribute to an area that's also experiencing some incredible growth," said Dan Meisenzahl, UH spokesman.

The plan is in its early days, and officials aren't yet sure how they'll decide to proceed.

Heading the school's efforts will be Carlton Ching, the longtime developer and one-time nominee to run the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, who would not only identify and work with the developer but manage the school's land assets.

One criteria for any project -- that it be entirely privately funded.

"They would have to come and supply the money and the plan, and it's something that would be fully vetted," Meisenzahl said.

Choy, though, said the school would be better suited to sticking with education, and not land development. "To make our students learn faster, better, more, that's where the focus should be."

That said, he believes UH could pull off a big development project by removing itself from it, similar to how the Department of Hawaiian Homelands leased land for a new shopping center in Kapolei.

"Their hardest job is going to be to deposit the check I think we can do that".

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.