HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Ward Warehouse was built in 1975, it was meant to be a temporary structure.
More than four decades later, there are plans to knock it down to make way for more luxury condos in Kakaako.
Owner Howard Hughes Corp. plans to build 260 apartments in two towers on the ewa and Diamond Head sides of the property. Prices for units will range from $1.5 million to more than $20 million.
"It's the very start of the process," said Todd Apo, vice president for community development for Howard Hughes. "There's no timetable set on when that work will begin."
He added that tenants that Ward Warehouse will be around at least through July 1, 2017.
Kakaako business owners have mixed opinions on the new plan. Some worry they'll see higher property taxes when the new highrises move in.
"I think there are some concerns about what it's going to do to property values and what it's going to do for traffic and congestion," said Steve Scott, who has operated his slipper manufacturing company, Scott Hawaii, in Kakaako since 1955.
But Scott, who also is a board member for the Hawaii Community Development Authority, conceded that replacing Ward Warehouse with condos is "inevitable" because the land is so valuable.
"It was just going to be for the most part, a temporary retail complex, they wanted to have something for 15 years or 20 years or so at max," Scott said. "I think what they have planned actually looks pretty good. I think they're going to have some emphasis on open space."
Hughes officials have been meeting with the community and the HCDA over the past several weeks on the Ward Warehouse plan. They said they hope to preserve much of center retail identity and that some tenants displaced by the construction will be relocated elsewhere in the 65-acre Ward complex.
"We all grew up here coming down here enjoying the Spaghetti factory, the Chowder House and just those places that made Ward Warehouse special," Apo said. "We're going to continue to find the right tenants that are locally-owned. I think the old term was mom and pop, the new term is entrepreneur and innovator."