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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 18, 2001

Estate crafts Kaka'ako plan

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Kamehameha Schools is preparing to develop a $100 million high-tech office complex in Kaka'ako that would help fulfill the state's vision of a biotechnology park in the area and enliven redevelopment in the long-stagnant industrial neighborhood.

The trust, the area's largest private landowner, is talking with local developer Marshall Hung of Waldron Ventures to execute the development plan in two phases, said John Peterson, senior asset manager for Kamehameha School's urban O'ahu commercial assets division.

Peterson said the first phase — two low-rise buildings and a 500-stall parking structure — could break ground in a little more than a year, as early as January 2003. Two more buildings and another parking structure would follow.

The project, however, is contingent on the Legislature authorizing $150 million in state spending for construction of a $300 million University of Hawai'i biomedical complex that would include the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Cancer Research Center on a site adjacent to the trust's property.

"That will give us a critical mass that will allow us to move forward," Peterson said of the UH medical facility. "If they don't go forward with that, we probably would not go forward with our project."

'Lot of synergy'

Legislators will consider the university's money request, which has the support of Gov. Ben Cayetano, during a special session that begins next week. The $150 million balance would be up to UH to raise privately.

The projects would be the first major commercial developments on the Kaka'ako-makai property overseen by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which for years has tried to usher in a variety of commercial projects on the 200 acres of state land bounded by Fort Armstrong, Ala Moana, Kewalo Basin and the ocean.

The projects also could serve to kick-start further development for the area by supplying some of the critical mass needed to support other commercial and residential ventures envisioned for surrounding areas by the state and private landowners such as Victoria Ward Ltd.

The projects also would go a long way toward moving forward Kamehameha Schools' master planned Pauahi Place retail/office/

residential/light industrial redevelopment of roughly 40 acres mauka of Ala Moana between One Waterfront Towers and Ward Warehouse.

"There's a lot of synergy going on if we can pull this off," Peterson said. "This could really have an impact."

While the estate's plan would still need approval from the Hawaii Community Development Authority, it is in line with the authority's vision for the area and would not require zoning changes or modification of an existing 15-year development agreement the trust and the authority signed in 1995.

Jan Yokota, authority executive director, said such private research space being proposed by Kamehameha Schools is needed to generate critical mass for a biotechnology park.

"It fits very well with the proposed medical school and biomedical research complex," she said.

Added David Morihara, a former state legislator who on Tuesday began working as director of government affairs for UH: "I think it would be a good match. I think it would be good for UH and the state to have increased facilities, because most buildings aren't built for high-technology."

High-tech elements

The Kamehameha Schools proposal would encompass about 12 acres of estate property that would be leased to a developer who would obtain financing for the project, build it and lease out space.

Hung, who is a potential selection for the job, was not available for comment yesterday. Hung was involved in developing the residential high-rise on the Pawa'a police station site as well as the affordable-housing condominium 1133 Waimanu. Peterson said Hung is working with a team that has developed high-tech buildings on the Mainland.

High-tech design elements for the two approximately four-story office buildings would include reinforced floors to carry heavy computer and battery systems; high ceilings; boosted electrical current; redundant power supply; big cable conduits; separate air conditioning zones; and expansive floor plans.

As part of the plan, and to increase open space, Koula Street and part of Coral Street between Ala Moana and Ilalo Street would be closed, if possible. Those street segments are designated by authority planners as closeable, although the agency's board would have to vote on such a request. City Council approval would also be necessary, Peterson said.

Peterson also said Honolulu Ford, a tenant of one parcel in phase one, has agreed to be moved to a site at King and South streets.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.