$20M improvement project at Kewalo Basin Harbor to bring changes for boaters

Updated: Aug. 28, 2017 at 8:20 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KEWALO BASIN, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Major upgrades are finally about to begin at a run-down Oahu harbor.

Infrastructure upgrades are coming to the Kewalo Basin Harbor as a $20 million improvement project gets underway. Upgrades will include a new fuel dock and three dozen more mooring spaces.

But during the work, boaters are working to find temporary homes for their vessels.

Vessels in 37 slips along Piers C and D must be moved by August 31. The work in that section is expected to last until next spring. Fishing boat owner Justin Pratt plans to move the Momona to the Keehi Boat Harbor.

"We're fortunate to get a spot at Keehi, but we have to take the risk -- thieves and other catastrophes that could happen," Pratt said.

The Howard Hughes Corporation manages the harbor. Company officials said they're working with a few vessel owners who haven't yet found a replacement site.

"Part of the reason that we're having the timing that we are in these developments is so that there was better availability of replacement slips at Ala Wai Harbor that didn't conflict with Transpac," explained Todd Apo, vice president for community development.

With the upgrades come rate increases. Rates for boat slips will be increased to market rate, according to the developer.

Company officials said its lease with the Hawaii Community Development Authority was structured so that higher slip rates would help pay for renovation costs.

According to the developer, the monthly slip rate for charter and recreational vessels will go up about $4 per foot to $13.40 per foot. The monthly rate for commercial fishing boats will increase $2 per foot.

"I'm just looking forward to the improvements, but just not looking foward to the inconvenience of the moving around," said Nate Hatchell, a deckhand for Sea Verse Sport Fishing. "It's going to be difficult for awhile, but in the end, it will be well worh it.

Under a separate proposal that's still being finalized, Howard Hughes plans to add a convenience store, 100 metered parking stalls,  and an outdoor event and leisure space.

"This is a commercial harbor. We see it. It's tours, it's fishermen and that's why we're bringing these improvements. The things that will happen on the outer side of the lighting, the security is going to help us all, but all of these efforts are really going to help the boaters that are here today," said Apo.

Not everyone, however, is in favor of all of the changes.

"I feel that they are renovating this for outside boaters, not for the locals. Like I said, it's not a commercial fishing harbor anymore," said Pratt.

The upgrades are expected to be finished in late 2019.

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