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Plan to stop rail construction at South Street puts several Kakaako properties in limbo

The plan to stop the rail project at South Street rather than build it to Ala Moana Center has placed several rail properties in Kakaako in limbo.
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 6:00 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 6:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The plan to stop the rail project at South Street rather than build it to Ala Moana Center has placed several rail properties in Kakaako in limbo.

Some have already been vacant for years.

“I look at our neighbors who lost their entire businesses and lost their entire properties and all this vacant land now that is down here,” said Steve Scott, CEO of Scott Hawaii.

Scott estimated that the rail system paid about $12 million for properties it condemned near Kona and Pensacola streets ― land which they now may not need.

“Honolulu Hardwoods was across the street. They closed up their shop,” said Scott. “Another business across the street was a pool supply company. They sold that property and moved out.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi surprised many when he announced in his State of the City address on Tuesday that the city wants to stop rail construction at South Street, eliminating two stations and shortening the project by one and a quarter miles.

Rail critics were pleased and are already speculating on what to do with the Kakaako properties.

“I think it would be good if there would be some use for affordable housing or for ... a homeless shelter,” said Natalie Iwasa, a board member for Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Speaking as a member of the public and not a HART board member, Iwasa complained that the HART board has never publicly discussed ending the project at South Street.

City Council members said they also have been left in the dark and want to see the rail recovery plan.

“In order for us to have meaningful discussions for decision making we’d like to get it as soon as possible. I’ll say that again as soon as possible,” said City Council Chair Tommy Waters.

The shortened route still needs approval of the federal government and City Council.

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