Developer moving ahead with plans for state's first highrise school

Developer moving ahead with plans for state's first highrise school

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 690 Pohukaina project was supposed to be the state's tallest building. Now, plans are underway to build the state's first vertical school within the high-rise complex.

The yet-to-be named school will occupy four floors in the project's second building and will serve about 750 students from Oahu's fastest growing community.

"Given that this is in Kakaako and we believe the growth in Kakaako will be focused here, it made good sense to try to get in front of this problem and be proactive," said Ken Madsen, public works manager for the Department of Education. "If we miss this opportunity and we find out down the road that we need it, we'll regret it."

Madsen said the new school is needed to keep up with the rapid growth in Honolulu's urban core.

"In addition to existing schools, we would need one and a half high schools between Farrington (High School) and McKinley (High School) and one and-a-half middle schools and as many as six new elementary schools," he said.

Alakai Development is working with developer Forest City Hawaii, DOE and the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to build the project.

"The idea of a school closely associated with residential housing is marvelous," said Jon Wallenstrom of Alakai. "Just imagine the lifestyle of a family when they have a school right there to go up and down an elevator to drop the kids off in the morning."

The original plans called for a single or twin rental building complex which --  at 650 feet and more than 50 percent higher than the current limit -- would have towered over Kakaako's skyline.

Now the plan calls for two buildings no more than 418 feet tall.

There will be 390 one- and two-bedroom units in the first building. Rents for 60 percent of the units will be affordable.

The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation's board will consider approving a development agreement at its next meeting in November.

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