Thursday, January 11, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 11, 2001

Kaka'ako tech plans approved

By John Duchemin
Advertiser Staff Writer

Plans to turn Kaka
ako into a technology center took two steps forward yesterday as the area’s development board approved, in concept, proposals by the University of Hawaii and Adtech Inc. to build major facilities near Kewalo Basin.

Proposed Kakaako projects

UH Biomedical Research Center

What: The new headquarters of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and several related departments.

Who would be there: More than 40 faculty members, plus 400 researchers and hundreds of students and supporting employees.

Timetable: Next up is legislative approval; design and construction would follow, continuing through 2003.

Adtech Inc. headquarters

What: The new production center, research site and corporate headquarters for one of Hawaii’s fastest-growing technology companies.

Who would be there: More than 300 technicians, engineers, programmers and corporate executives.

Timetable: Lease negotiations will now start; design and construction could start this year, continuing into 2002.

The Hawai
i Community Development Authority voted to support the university’s proposed biomedical research center, which would house the John A. Burns School of Medicine and other scientific programs on a 10-acre campus next to the Kakaako Waterfront Park.

The authority also voted to start formal negotiations with Adtech, a Kaimuki-based network testing company, to lease a neighboring piece of land for a 200,000- to 250,000-square-foot corporate headquarters, research and production center.

Yesterday’s approvals were described as important formalities that help clear the way for eventual construction of the centers, which in several years are envisioned to create thousands of scientific and technical jobs in Kakaako.

Proponents of the projects described them as crucial not only to each institution’s success, but also to the creation of a viable technology community in Honolulu, a longstanding goal of many business leaders and Gov. Ben Cayetano. For Kakaako, the projects would stimulate development, which for years has lagged neighboring areas including Waikiki and downtown, observers said.

"With both of us there, we would really be creating a high-tech park," said Tareq Hoque, president of Adtech. "We may have no direct business with them, but together we certainly will be improving the quality of the area, and will attract the ancillary support businesses — restaurants, cafes, stores — that our employees like. This could really create some synergy."

Adtech wants to move to Kakaako from its outgrown home in Kaimuki. The company’s work force has grown to 330 from less than 100 in the late 1990s, and company officials say they could employ as many as 800 by the middle of the decade.

Operations are packed into four small buildings off Waialae Avenue, and space is so tight Adtech has frozen hiring in several key fields, Hoque said. As a temporary measure, he said, the company is negotiating to move about half its employees downtown to First Hawaiian Center.

The UH medical school also suffers from cramped and inadequate facilities in its 30-year-old building in MŒnoa, said Edwin C. Cadman, dean. "Our current site is proving poor for both modern research and education," Cadman said.

Hundreds of new jobs

The proposed center would bring about 40 medical faculty members and 400 research positions to Kakaako, plus hundreds of support jobs. Many of those jobs — including several dozen research faculty — would be new, Cadman said. University departments including engineering, computer sciences, marine biology and business are all interested in moving to the new center, Cadman said.

Plans call for a landscaped campus with up to six buildings, including several multi-story research buildings, a few administrative buildings, a visitor’s center and medical museum, and a parking garage.

The center could also become an entrepreneurial hub, Cadman said. Depending on final plans, up to 100,000 square feet of the 500,000-square-foot center could be devoted to leasable space for startup biotechnology companies and other entrepreneurs needing access to UH scientific expertise.

Both projects now are scheduled for further rounds of negotiation. The university is preparing to seek about $150 million for the medical center from the Legislature this session. If approved, design would begin in July, and construction could start in mid-2002.

Adtech said it now will begin negotiating lease terms with the development authority. Hoque said he wants to settle the lease within several months.

Adtech also is holding a community meeting at 4 p.m. today in the second-floor conference facilities at Ward Warehouse. The meeting, open to the public, will be a chance for residents and neighbors to learn about Adtech’s plans, he said.

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