Ige: Affordable housing, state office bldg. could be built along rail

Ige: Affordable housing, state office bldg. could be built along rail
Published: Dec. 25, 2014 at 8:31 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige said the state has not done a good job coordinating what public facilities should be built on state property along the rail transit line but he said affordable housing and a new state office building are two important needs.

There are numerous parcels of state land all along the rail route.

"We really haven't done a good job as the state of looking at all of those lands and really talking about what alternatives, what opportunities we have," Ige said.

Ige said the state needs to develop thousands more affordable rental units on its land near the rail. One proposal: to knock down the Hawaii Housing Authority's administrative offices along School Street in Kalihi and build as many as 1,000 affordable rental apartments there.

"We need to look at the whole transit route and look at all the state lands and then think about what would be the best use," Ige said.

The state spends millions of dollars a year renting private office space for state offices all over Honolulu. For instance, it leases 60,000 square feet of one Kalihi building on Waiakamilo Street for various Department of Human Services offices now.

"We still end up leasing 250,000 square feet of commercial space. We've talked a lot about whether there should be another state office building," Ige said.

The state has long-range plans to build a new state office building and move hundreds of workers to the old O,R & L train station on the ocean side of Aala Park in what would be called the Liliha Civic Center.

Ige said other services should be built along the rail line too.

"Medical care, hospital services, other things that would allow us to do a better, long-range plan of how we want to see the next phase of the City and County of Honolulu," Ige said.

Ige said he will work with his cabinet to coordinate the future use of state lands along the rail route which is a complex task, because the land is controlled by different departments with different needs and agendas, ranging from the University of Hawaii, to the Aloha Stadium Authority and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

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