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City considering public-private partnerships to offset costs of rail

(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The city wants to explore public-private partnerships to help fund rail stations.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell discussed the option Tuesday, as officials grapple with skyrocketing rail costs and questions about the project's future.

"It's going to cost more. It’s going to encounter more problems and we need to prepare for that," he said. There are other rail systems that work with the private sector to give them air rights over the stations to develop it, and that brings in more money."

In other words, developers would help offset the cost of building rail stations in exchange for the rights to build above the facilities.

Developer Stanford Carr called it a win-win proposition.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation "doesn't have to buy as much land as they thought they would, by allowing us to encapsulate the transit station and integrate it within our project," he said.

Carr also said if such a partnership were to happen, the developer's engineers and architects would work collaboratively with HART to create mixed-use structures that would include the rail station, residential and commercial spaces.

"There's always the economic risk, but you need to do your homework," he said. "Every neighborhood is different with different demographics. You need to build for the marketplace."

In addition to up-front cost savings, there could be long-term benefits that would save in operational costs.

For example, he said, "We have security watching, making sure the public is safe there. That would otherwise have to be borne by the city and HART."

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