State releases new vision plan for Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor on Oahu

The 124-page vision plan was developed with the University of Hawaii Community Design Center.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 9:56 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 13, 2022 at 10:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Department of Land and Natural Resources has released a new vision plan for the state’s largest harbor for small boats.

State officials have been looking at new development at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor for more than a decade, and the vision plan spells out several major changes, especially for those who aren’t boaters.

“We all need to come together to see this as a real jewel, not only for Waikiki and the entrance to Waikiki, but for the state,” said state Sen. Sharon Moriwaki, who represents the area.

The 124-page vision plan was developed with the University of Hawaii Community Design Center. It took five years of public meetings and focus groups to come up with the various concepts.

They include a promenade and elevated boardwalk near the Hawaii Prince Hotel. A surf center in the Kaiser’s parking lot would include lockers for boards and canoes. And a parking area near the current harbormaster’s office would be turned into a park with several gathering areas.

“That is making it green, making it walkable, making it usable, and having a promenade, where people can really enjoy the harbor,” said Moriwaki.

One of the most awaited changes would come to a long-vacant lot at the Ala Wai Canal bridge. In 2009, a developer planned to build a wedding chapel and retail spaces, but the company went bankrupt.

“We went out again and didn’t get variable candidates, and following that up, we met with some of the developers to see what would make it easier for them to put together a proposal,” said Ed Underwood, administrator of the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

The state now wants to turn that lot into a new education and community center with a low-rise building.

The report lists two design options for all these ideas, ranging in cost from about $250 million to $360 million.

“The developer would put up the money and they would recoup their investment by commercial operations and revenue-generating potential for the facility,” said Underwood.

The plan still has to get approval from the state land board, and then a request for proposals will go out in the hopes of getting a developer to actually make it happen.

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