Burial council blasts state over Kakaako project

Published: Jun. 12, 2014 at 11:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Oahu Burial Council is calling for closer scrutiny of the controversial redevelopment of the old Honolulu Advertiser building in Kakaako.

In a meeting Tuesday, OIBC members said the State Historic Preservation Division removed the project from their oversight by not requiring the developer to conduct an archeological inventory study of historic artifacts.

"Given the intense scrutiny for Kakaako and we are within a couple of blocks where 600-plus kupuna iwi were disinterred at Kawaiahao Church, how could such a decision be made," said Jonathan Likeke Scheuer, the council's outgoing vice chair.

Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto last month ordered a halt to construction on the second highrise planned at 801 South St. after he found that the state violated state historic preservation law.

That ruling will likely delay the project by several months.

Susan Lebo, the state preservation division's lead archeologist for Oahu, said she initially required an AIS but backed off after the developer's consultant convinced her of the low potential of finding human remains.

A monitoring plan for iwi was put in place instead.

"The project's proponent and the archeological firm they hired provided additional information of geotechnical boring data," she said.

801 South Street's developers said they complied with all state historic preservation requirements. But they said that they are leaving it up to the state on how to next proceed.

The work stoppage comes as other Kakaako developers opted to conduct a full AIS on their properties as a precaution. Some Hawaiians say 801 South Streets' developers should have done so as well.

"I always advocate for a full archeological inventory survey especially in this area where there's evidence of cultural layers," said cultural practitioner Paulette Kaleikini.

One of those developers -- Howard Hughes Corp. -- recently unearthed iwi at its Ward Industrial Center on Queen Street. But because it already has an AIS underway and is working with the Hawaiian community, no delays are expected.

"They have made every effort possible to embrace iwi kupuna issues," said Hina Wong-Kalu, the Oahu Burial Council's chair.

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