UH West Oahu Construction Might Finally Begin

PEARL CITY (KHNL) - A larger, permanent University of Hawaii West Oahu campus is a step closer to reality after a development deal is reached.

Nickoli Doble is a philosophy student at the University of Hawaii West Oahu. He likes the fact that he doesn't have to drive into town for his higher education.

"I didn't even know about this school until I looked it up," he said. "It was like there's a school on the Leeward side, a university. It's kind of nice instead of like having to commute to Manoa."

More students may soon enjoy that luxury, as UH West Oahu and a Texas-based developer hammer out a deal that would give the University most of the money it needs to begin building a larger campus in Kapolei.

"It's a major step forward for us," Gene Awakuni, UH West Oahu chancellor, said.

Right now, classes are held in temporary digs next to Leeward Community College in Pearl City.

Now, Hunt Building Corporation signs a letter of intent to buy nearly 300 acres of the University's 500-acre Kapolei site. Officials say the $100 million from the sale would allow the first phase of construction for their dream campus to begin.

"We're going to build a little college town, walk-able with wide sidewalks, outdoor dining, specialty shops, recreation," Awakuni said.

Currently, there are about 860 students enrolled at UH West Oahu. When completed, the new campus will serve approximately 7,500 students.

Hunt Building would use its land for residential and commercial purposes.

"There have been people who've been fighting for this at the Legislature, at the University for the last 30 years," Awakuni said. "So for them, I think, this reality to have a University campus in West Oahu is a dream come true."

The University is asking the Legislature to provide an additional $35 million for construction.