EWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Redevelopment plans for a former sugar plantation are moving forward, after decades of waiting on promised renovations from the city.
Those who live in Varona Village want to know what will finally happen to their homes.
The city hosted a public meeting Tuesday night at the D.E. Thompson Village to give the community an opportunity to provide feedback and voice concerns before the city issues a request for proposals.
"Clearly, the redevelopment of Varona village is long overdue," said Honolulu City Councilmember Ron Menor.
The ultimate priority for the community is to have the city to allow Tenants of Record (TORs) -- or former plantation workers who've lived in Varona since 1990 -- to be able to purchase their homes.
Cres Malate and her husband, who was a plantation plumber, moved to Varona in 1971. She's not giving up hope on one day becoming a homeowner.
"If they sell to us, why not?" said Malate. "We'd like to buy, but if not, we'll just wait until we die."
The city acquired Varona and nearby Tenney and Renton villages when Oahu Sugar, Ewa Plantation's successor, shut down in 1995. Those areas were largely renovated, while Varona was left neglected.
"The city made promises years ago that they would be rehabilitating the homes and allowing the plantation families to be able to purchase those homes at affordable prices, but for many years it never happened or materialized," Menor said.
As plans move forward to turn the 26-acre community into affordable housing development, residents also request that the city retain the historic elements of Varona Village, including the architecture look and feel of the plantation life.
City officials plan to seek out potential developers in July.
"I'm hoping the city administration will finally at long last get the redevelopment off the ground this summer," said Menor.