There's mounting opposition to plans to redevelop the iconic Honolulu Advertiser building.
Dozens testified against the plan to demolish the back half of the 84-year-old building during a meeting of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. And hundreds more have signed petitions opposing the project.
But the developer says the $400 million complex at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and South Street will not only create 350 new jobs but will add much needed housing for the working class.
Kiersten Faulkner, executive director of the Hawaii Historic Foundation, believes the entire building should be saved from the wrecking ball.
"We're concerned about the impacts on the historic news building and as such we're asking you to deny the application that's currently in front of you and sent them back to the drawing board," Faulkner said.
Kakaako residents have started a petition opposing the second phase of developer Marshall Hung's project, saying it will add to traffic congestion and will strain the infrastructure.
Local planner Tricia Dung took issue with the design of the project, calling it a "New York public housing type of development."
"The concrete corridor will be a permanent backdrop to the civic center creating a 10-story wall further defining the canyon effect," she said.
Jeffrey Pedersen, an out-of-work electrician, said he welcomes projects that create jobs for people like him. But Pedersen said this project is just too much.
"There's just too many things against it for being a proper fit for Kakaako. I want to build Honolulu but I'm not into building Gotham City," he said.
Developer Downtown Capital LLC says the signature frontage along Kapiolani Boulevard will be retained. Hawaiian Dredging Co. is in the process of buying that building for its headquarters and plans to keep most of it intact.
"The property is not listed in either the national or Hawaii register of historic places. As a private landowner, there is no requirement to retain or preserve the entire building," said Downtown Capital executive Ryan Harada.
The project will have 410 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Prices will range from $360,000 to $693,000. It is the second tower proposed for the Advertiser site. The first building, which began construction in June, is nearly sold out.
Supporters say the project is needed to help solve Hawaii's shortage of affordable housing.
"it's simple economics, prices will just keep getting up and the dream of owning a home will keep escaping local residents," said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, executive director of the Hawaii Construction Alliance.
The HCDA will hold further hearings and expects to make a decision on the project in December.