Billions in private construction projects stall during pandemic

Updated: Nov. 30, 2020 at 5:06 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Construction activity has been one of the economic bright spots during the pandemic. But in recent months, a number of high-profile projects have run into delays.

Not since the early 1990s, when the Japanese bubble burst, have there been so many stalled projects in Hawaii, real estate experts say.

They estimate the value of construction projects now in limbo is in the billions of dollars.

“I’d say it’s above $5 billion, easily when you count it all up. And I could go a little bit above that,” said real estate analyst Ricky Cassiday.

Among the stalled or delayed projects include:

  • The Honolulu rail project, in which tens of millions of dollars in work along Dillingham Boulevard has hit a nine-month snag due to the lack of city permits and variance to relocate utilities;
  • The $1.5 billion Atlantis Resort in Ko Olina, which was behind schedule even before the pandemic;
  • The $370 million renovation of the Kaanapali Golf Course in Maui, which was recently shelved by the owner, the Hawaii Employees Retirement System.

Cassiday said the delay in building the rail line could also affect the construction schedules of affordable housing projects along the rail project’s 20-mile route.

To be sure, there are several large public housing projects that are moving ahead.

They include an 800-unit senior, affordable housing project at the site of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority’s administrative offices in Kalihi.

The $400 million project is expected to break ground next year.

The HPHA also plans a $300 million townhouse project at the former Kuhio Park Terrace property.

“Just those two projects combined should generate over 400 direct construction jobs during the period of construction,” said Hakim Ouansafi, the HPHA’s executive director.

The housing agency said it’s also on schedule for its $1.3 billion remake of the Mayor Wright housing project -- even though it recently canned its development partner.

“We have terminated the developer, however, we did not terminate the development ... in fact, work has not stopped,” Ouansafi said.

That project is expected to be completed over the next ten years.

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