City offers OHA $30M for 3-acre land parcel to build sewer pump station

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For two years, OHA and the city have been meeting behind closed doors to talk about a parcel of undeveloped ceded lands currently being used as a parking lot.

It's a 3-acre space along Ala Moana Boulevard between Forrest Avenue and Ilalo Street. The city says it's an ideal location to build a $650 million dollar sewer pump station and tunnel to provide more capacity for development in East Honolulu.

"That sewer tunnel -- if we get it -- would serve from Niu Valley to Pauoa and it is imperative for development in the Kakaako area. Without this tunnel we have some major restrictions," said Lori Kahikina, City Director of Environmental Services.

The city and OHA agreed on an independent appraiser who said the land was worth $29.6 million. Sources say the city made an offer of that same amount.

Even though the trustees agreed to continue negotiations, there are issues.

OHA has generally avoided selling ceded lands. Trustee Lei Ahu Isa worries if OHA doesn't agree to a deal, the city would force a sale through condemnation.

"They are dragging it out. Can they eminent domain and take it from us?" she asked.

"The quick answer is yes. We are talking about an infrastructure system that's in desperate need," said Miles Nishijima, OHA Land and Property Director.

"I'm not sure we would actually go that route. We did actually look at many properties in the area," said Kahikina.

Some beneficiaries are against the sale, but commercial real estate expert Stephany Sofos says it's good the general public because infrastructure is needed and it's good for OHA.

"So you (OHA) are getting offered a really good price. Take that money and purchase investment property. This land is laying fallow. It's not doing anything for anyone.

"I don't agree with it. I don't think the sale should go through unless there's serious negotiations," said Germaine Meyers, OHA beneficiary.

Any potential sale of ceded lands would have to be approved by the legislature.

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