Large affordable housing project slated for Liliha draws concern

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

LILIHA, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is proposing an affordable redevelopment project for Liliha that would include about 1,000 units and more than 500 parking stalls.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority project will sit on state property at the corner of North School Street and Lanakila Avenue.

On Thursday night, developer Retirement Housing Foundation and the housing authority presented four possible configurations of the project to residents and area legislators. One proposal included a 28-story tower.

RHF was selected to redevelop the 10-acre site to include the housing authority's offices, affordable housing units and commercial uses.

Hakim Ouansafi, HPHA executive director, said the site is currently "wasted land."

But some say the high-rise would dramatically changing the area's "old neighborhood feel."

State Rep. Takashi Ohno, whose area includes Liliha, said he is concerned about increased traffic and sewer issues.

"Of those four options that were presented, none of those I believe will be the final product," Ohno said.

"I believe it'll be a mix of whatever the community wants. And if it's nothing, that's still an option on the table. If it's another version of something that has lower heights, that has lower density, a lower number of units, we need to hear that from the community."

Ouansafi said the public meetings happening now are designed to better understand what the community wants.

"Whatever we build, it has to complement and increase the value of the entire neighborhood," he said. "We want it to be comfortable for the neighbors, keeping in mind there is a (housing) shortage. There are people who are suffering from lack of affordable housing."

State Sen. Karl Rhoads, meanwhile, said he's open to considering a high-rise in the area because of the city's desperate need for affordable housing.

"It's not so much that people are against it at this point, there's just concerns and they're afraid about certain things like it just being huge and dominating," Rhoads said. "But I think most people understood why Hawaii Public Housing Authority is talking about it were just desperate for affordable housing units."

The next community meeting will be held at HPHA's main office building on the corner of North School Street and Lanakila Avenue on Saturday, January 28th from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Renderings of the proposed developments can be found on HPHA's website by the end of next week.

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