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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Navy settles on restyling plan for Ford Island

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

The Navy has struck a compromise in its plan to consolidate facilities by redeveloping Ford Island and adding new housing, office space and visitor attractions to the historic property little changed since World War II.

The "medium intensity" development the Navy said it will pursue calls for up to 420 family housing units, bachelor-enlisted quarters for 1,000 personnel, 190,000 square feet of office space for 1,500 additional employees and a new training complex as part of the more than $100 million redevelopment plan.

A "historic visitor attraction" — possibly the Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific — also is envisioned as part of the private development of up to 75 acres of Ford Island land.

Under the Navy plan, attractions and commercial and light industrial uses could employ 2,800 workers and result in a maximum of 6,700 visitors daily to the 450-acre island.

The "record of decision" signed last week by Duncan Holaday, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and facilities, selects the medium-density plan over a high-density counterpart that envisioned 5,600 workers and up to 15,000 daily visitors.

U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye yesterday said he commends the Navy "for taking this important step which propels this major initiative forward."

"This Ford Island development project will most certainly enhance the quality of life of the men and women of our Navy," Inouye, D-Hawai'i, said. "I will do everything in my authority to bring this project to fruition."

Other options considered by the Navy were a low-density plan without private development, and taking no action at all.

Even with the middle-of-the-road approach, there is the potential for "significant impacts" on traffic at Kamehameha Highway and Ford Island Boulevard, and intersection improvements and staggered work hours will be looked at to reduce the problem, the Navy findings state. Navy Region Hawai'i spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell said the medium-intensity decision took into consideration factors ranging from traffic to the functional and applicable use of Ford Island.

"I think it wound up to be (what) the density folks were comfortable with while also maintaining a historical perspective," she said.

On a parallel track, the Navy last summer awarded $325,000 contracts to three companies — Fluor Hawaii LLC, Ford Island Development Group LLC, and Ford Island Realty Partners LLC — to prepare master development plans for Ford Island and outlying properties that will be leased or sold to finance the plan.

Those plans are due by the end of the month, and the Navy expects to select one of the plans by the end of the year.

David Scott, executive director of the Historic Hawai'i Foundation, said preservationists are waiting to see what those plans entail. In 2001, the National Trust for Historic Preservation raised concern about the Ford Island development plan, and placed the landmark on its list of 11 most endangered historic places.

"Obviously, we've been working with the Navy a lot and our hope is a good development plan will be good for preservation," Scott said yesterday. "We've not seen any of the master development plans."

The development of Ford Island supports the Navy's long-range objective of centralizing operations in the Pearl Harbor area.

Special Ford Island legislation was passed to allow the sale or lease of outlying Navy properties to pay for the project. The Navy has identified 702 acres at the former naval station at Barbers Point and 515 acres at the former naval magazine at Waikele for sale, and 1,460 acres at Iroquois Point, 390 acres at Puuloa, and 6.6 acres at Halawa Landing for lease.

Under the medium-density plan, Halawa landing would be leased to support private developer operations on Ford Island. One possible use would be the Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific, which anticipates using historic hangars and the control tower on the island.

A separate plan on Ford Island involves the construction of an $18.9 million Navy Lodge and 180 housing units.

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-5459.