By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawaii The often-contentious 13-year search for a new judiciary complex in Hilo ended yesterday with the announcement that the state would purchase the Kaikoo Mall Shopping Center.
Chief Justice Ronald Moon said the 8-acre Kilauea Avenue site owned by the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation had been selected for its convenient location across the street from the State Building Complex and Hawaii County offices.
The cost has not been determined. State purchases of real estate usually are guided by appraisals done through the Department of Land and Natural Resources. A county tax assessment for 2000 valued the land and building at $9.2 million.
The shopping center tenants once included department stores, a grocery and a bank, but now only a small portion of the property is occupied by a few restaurants and bars and some state offices.
Preliminary plans call for demolishing the shopping center and constructing a 130,000-square-foot facility by mid-2005, said Michael Broderick, administrative director of the courts. The complex will consolidate Circuit, Family and District court operations, he said.
The judiciary will go to the Legislature this session to ask for more than $1.5 million to cover planning and land costs, to supplement $6.5 million appropriated for land last year. An additional $3.5 million will be sought for design. Broderick said a request for construction money would come later.
In the meantime, the judiciary will move Family Court operations from its current leased site at Waiakea Villas into a section of the 85,000-square-foot former JCPenney building when renovations there are complete. That location has been renamed One Pauahi Place.
The state had narrowed its choice of sites from 15 to seven, including the former JCPenney building, which the county purchased in 1996 for $6.5 million. That site was removed from consideration after state officials locked horns with former Mayor Steve Yamashiro on a selling price.
Earlier plans to build a multistory facility near the Hilo Lagoon Centre drew strong opposition from occupants of the residential condominium and office complex.
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