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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, November 17, 2002

New aquarium plan sounds like the best yet

What we've heard so far of a proposal from KUD International to build an aquarium in Kaka'ako is the most impressive of the many to surface in recent years.

This one, too, is said to be "world class," whatever that means. The dozens of aquariums that have sprouted in cities from Japan to Phoenix to London may be fine for the objectives for which they were built. But Hawai'i — and especially the Kaka'ako site targeted — needs something more than special.

The lands adjoining the Kaka'ako Waterfront Park are the last of Honolulu's urban waterfront. They must be developed to be no less than the city's crown jewels. The aquarium must present signature architecture, and the visitor-oriented exhibit space must be combined with state-of-the-art research facilities.

Gov. Ben Cayetano makes the point that biotech research at the aquarium could tie in with the nearby medical school, now under construction, and related start-up companies that would result.

The developers say the aquarium would rely on private financing, with tax credits under Act 221, the state's high-tech business development incentive and, we presume, a friendly state lease.

There are a lot of details yet to see. But right now it sounds like the right idea for the right place.