Construction labor pool to be studied
By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawai'i's congressional delegation wants to understand the labor demands that 7,700 new military homes will place on Hawai'i's construction industry and is planning a summit by the end of the year of developers, unions and building industry officials.
The goal is to come up with an inventory of the kind and number of jobs that will be needed and whether Hawai'i's 26,700 construction workers can fill them all.
"There are a lot of questions about whether or not we have a labor pool in Hawai'i that can meet the demand," said Mike Slackman, spokesman for Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who will serve as honorary chairman of the summit. "This is the kind of problem you want to have, rather than too many people looking for work.
"At the same time, there hasn't been a systematic look at the numbers of what's going to be needed, how many people, what skills are going to be needed and what kind of resources there are in the Hawai'i work force."
Planning for the summit is still in the "embryonic stages" and many details still haven't been worked out, Slackman said. It won't happen until after Congress adjourns, scheduled for Oct. 31, he said.
The summit most likely would include representatives from all of the trade unions, the Building Industry Association-Hawaii, Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i and the two developers selected to build separate $2.2 billion worth of Army, Navy and Air Force housing projects.
They would start by making an inventory of the needs of the various projects and the ability of unions and training programs to meet the demand, Slackman said.
The disclosure of the summit yesterday came as Hawaii Military Communities LLC, the builders of new Navy housing on O'ahu, unveiled their ideas for the first time since being selected contractor last month.
They showed drawings of open porches fronting large, friendly neighborhoods unfettered by cars that would be parked in back.
The homes would surround "greenways," where small children could gather. And no home would be more than a quarter-mile from major neighborhood recreational areas featuring swimming pools, exercise areas and meeting rooms.
Hawaii Military Communities LLC, a Mainland partnership, will build and manage the first phase of a Navy housing renovation project that could expand to $1 billion covering 7,300 Navy and Marine Corps homes.
Hawaii Military Communities is made up of Forest City Enterprises Inc., which is based in Cleveland, and C.F. Jordan LP of El Paso, Texas.
State Sen. Cal Kawamoto earlier had asked Hawai'i's congressional delegation to postpone all of the so-called privatized military housing projects but liked what he heard yesterday.
Before the presentation, Kawamoto solicited assurances that Hawaii Military Communities LLC would pay federal Davis-Bacon wages and adhere to state regulations regarding workmen's compensation, the prepaid medical-care act and general excise taxes.
"There's no doubt these guys do good work. I just wanted to clear the air," said Kawamoto, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Military Affairs and Government Operations. "I want to make sure we understand each other."
Hawaii Military Communities will now enter into as many as six months of negotiations with the Navy for the first project phase involving 1,948 units in the Halsey Terrace, Radford Terrace, Moanalua Terrace, Hokulani and McGrew Point housing areas. The cost is estimated at $358 million for construction, renovation and demolition and for amenities such as community centers, landscaping and street improvements.
Work could begin late next year and is expected to take four years, said Thomas Henneberry, chief operating officer of Forest City, which will be the managing partner.
But the project will last half a century, with Hawaii Military Communities responsible for managing and maintaining the homes and centers.
Forest City has plenty of experience managing some 30,000 apartments around the country but will fine tune its approach for Navy families, said Angelo Pimpas, co-president of Forest City's residential group.
Workers will mow lawns and assemble toys and furniture for Navy spouses left at home. They'll also water indoor plants when families go on vacation, Pimpas said.
And they'll even help families move when they're reassigned.
"Customer service," Pimpas said, "is No. 1."
Reach Dan Nakaso at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8085.