University dormitory planned for former Oahu YMCA building

University dormitory planned for former Oahu YMCA building
(Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU (AP) — The University of Hawaii plans to redevelop a former YMCA property on Oahu to include a sizable dormitory space.

The project comes as the university cuts a third of the student housing beds on its Manoa campus for the fall in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

The former Charles Atherton House was originally planned to house 30 to 40 students at a cost of $5 million.

The plan now calls for a $58.6 million innovation and entrepreneurship center where students will live, learn and work. Construction is scheduled to begin in eight or nine months with completion by fall 2023.

The project on the edge of a residential neighborhood is expected to house 350 students in a six-story building and include 40 to 50 parking spaces.

The University of Hawaii Foundation purchased the property on Metcalf Street and University Avenue in Honolulu for $8 million in 2017.

Project coordinator Lance Wilhelm said the poor plumbing and outdated mechanical system in the 1930s concrete building did not meet the university’s standards and renovation costs were closer to $10 million.

While tearing down and rebuilding the structure would have been cheaper, the university believed saving the iconic building was important for the neighborhood and the broader community, as well as the school.

The adjacent Mary Atherton Richards House will be demolished to make way for the larger building.

“If you have to spend $10 million to fix up 30 or 40 beds, it makes sense to spend way more money for a couple hundred beds,” Wilhelm said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.