State goes ‘back to the drawing board’ for Ala Wai harbor development

Updated: Oct. 25, 2019 at 9:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many people consider the area near the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor to be the gateway to Waikiki.

But for years, that area has included a fenced-off vacant lot.

It looks like that won’t be changing soon, as the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced that it did not choose any of the proposals that were submitted for development of that vacant parcel and three others at the harbor.

The DLNR said there were four applicants to develop the parcels, but only two proposals were received.

One of those proposals was ruled to be ineligible because it didn’t follow the request for proposal process.

“The one proposal that we did receive unfortunately just didn’t meet the crtieria for the selection committee,” said Meghan Statts, assistant administrator of the Divisoin of Boating and Ocean Recreation. “It just wasn’t what we were looking for.”

The state wouldn’t say exactly why the proposal failed. But one of the rejected applicants was Kumulipo Studios, led by Sam Monet. He’s threatening to ask for a contested case hearing.

Monet also said he was not informed that his proposal had been rejected, nor told why.

“We want a seat at the table. We think we have a better plan,” said Monet. “Restore the fuel dock. Restore the haul-out yard. And the EPA issues are moot because there’s ways of getting around them.”

Those who live on boats at the harbor are concerned about possible private development at another parcel, the existing harbor’s headquarters and the surrounding parking.

“We’re very concerned about the environmental impact if there’s going to be a big building there,” said Kate Thompson.

And surfers and other beachgoers are afraid they’ll lose valuable free parking at a third parcel, which is currently a small triangular parking lot.

“You know they going change everything. But leave it the way we want it,” said surfer Bob Fernandez. “Why didn’t they ask us first? We’re the ones that’s here every day.”

There have been previous development attempts that failed. In 2015, the state canceled a lease with Honeybee USA, which planned to build a new boat repair facility, fuel dock, restaurants and other attractions.

Most recently, the lot near Ala Moana Boulevard was where the derelict Navatek II sat before it was dismantled. The Navatek was an 85-foot trimaran that appeared in Hollywood movies.

State officials remain confident that something will happen at the harbor.

“We had a lot more interest than last time, and we want to do it right. So we’re going to take our time until we can get this to where we can get a proposal that meets everybody’s needs,” said DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood.

However, there’s no set date for DOBOR to petition the state land board to issue a new request for proposals.

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