Construction of student housing project draw community concerns

Construction of student housing project draw community concerns
Published: Sep. 14, 2017 at 8:21 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 10, 2017 at 4:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Construction of a 14-story student apartment complex being built on the corner of South King and University Avenue is raising safety concerns for some neighbors of the project.

The project borders Kahuna Lane, a short, narrow private road located just off of South King Street and near Kokua Market Natural Foods.

The road's owners say the developer isn't abiding by an agreement on safety measures. The developer says it takes all safety issues seriously and is working as fast as it can.

Laurie Hirohata has lived adjacent to Kahuna Lane for 20 years.

Hirohata says the big project is raising fears among her neighbors who use the small road.

"I think there's people who are really upset especially the ones living really close," she said, "There's bicycles, there's skateboarders, there's mopeds, there's pedestrians, a lot of elderly in the area, there's a lot of families with strollers cause they got little kids. We all trying to use the lane."

Attorney Joachim Cox represents the owners of Kahuna Lane. Cox says his client's primary concern is the safety of those who use the roadway.

"We want to make sure the developer is using Kahuna Lane during the construction period that would be safe for the public." Cox said.

Several months ago, the parties reached an agreement over the types of construction vehicles that would be allowed to use the lane. Under that agreement, only light construction vehicles and a large forklift could use the roadway. But Cox says that agreement has been repeatedly broken.

"Then what we saw very soon thereafter is they were driving heavy concrete trucks, they were parking dump trucks on there, they were excavating," said Cox. "We had agreed that they could use light trucks and we even identified -- Ford F-150 or smaller truck."

A court hearing on the dispute is set for Friday before Circuit Court Judge Virginia Crandall.

Attorney Michael Lam represents the developer of the project, Honolulu Student Housing LLC.

"We are very proud of this project and we are getting it done as fast and quickly possible," said Lam, who declined to comment specifically on the pending litigation but says his client takes all safety concerns seriously.

"There's been certified flaggers, off duty police monitors during that time when construction trucks were utilizing that lane. But right now that lane is no longer used for any of active construction site," Lam said.

"From the very beginning we have established a toll free hotline allowing any resident, allowing anybody to call about concerns about the project. From day one we have not received any calls about any concerns for safety."

Lam said the developer has taken steps to increase pedestrian safety by the building of a covered, lighted walkway, which will eventually be replaced by a concrete sidewalk once the project is completed. Something the lane has never had before.

Lam says the project is slated to be completed by summer 2018. And Cox said his concern is what will happen in the meantime.

"The building's not done and our worry is that what's going to happen next." said Cox.

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