Mayor asks for $64M to buy land for transit center, housing project near Ala Moana

Mayor asks for $64M to buy land for transit center, housing project near Ala Moana

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is asking for $64 million to purchase the land for a massive housing and bus transit center near Ala Moana Center.

But city council members said the last minute proposal could jeopardize an affordable housing project that's already planned for the site.

"There is a waiting list of people who want to get into this new building and now it's on the verge of being lost," said city Councilmember Ann Kobayashi.

Korean developer Sam Koo wants to build a 400-foot tall condo complex on the former car lot on Kapiolani Boulevard near Keeaumoku Street. The project, which has been ten years in the planning, will include nearly 300 affordable units.

But the mayor said the city needs a large bus transit center next to Ala Moana to connect to the final station on the rail line.

"When rail comes in, you're going to have about 20,000 rides disembarking at Ala Moana every single day," he said.

He added that his plan would mean even more affordable housing. Developers could build more apartments because the city would provide more land area, he said.

"On the first couple floors would be a transit center above that it would be affordable housing. This administration is about building more affordable housing," Caldwell said.

Council members and real estate experts said the mayor's idea should have been brought up years ago.

"It would have cost tremendously less if they had appraised and condemned these things a long time ago," real estate expert Ricky Cassiday said.

On Thursday, the council rejected the city's request for the $64 million, but the mayor is urging them to restore it.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.