Team to assess city's real estate
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
Mayor Mufi Hannemann wants to know what Honolulu owns and what to do with it.
The 11-member group was one of two special economic advisory teams the mayor announced at a press conference yesterday afternoon at Honolulu Hale.
Hannemann said up to this point his administration has focused its financial attention on ways to cut expenses. Now, he said, the city would begin a second phase that would concentrate on ways to "increase the economic pot."
He said Honolulu is enjoying a robust economy that has tremendous growth potential. Barely a week goes by in which he doesn't hear from potential buyers inquiring about the status of one of the 700 real estate properties the city owns or manages, he said.
"They would either like to purchase, or they would like to partner with the city, or they would like to know what the future holds for this particular parcel," he said.
Trouble is, Honolulu doesn't know what it owns, city spokesman Bill Brennan said before the press conference.
"I think department by department it's not consolidated in one place where you can say, 'Yeah, we own that,' or, 'We don't own that,' " he said.
To sort it all out and recommend whether to keep or sell will be the task of the review team, which is made up of local business executives.
Team chairman Jeffrey C. Dinsmore, vice president of development-Hawai'i Region for General Growth Properties, said 90 days is not much time to get the job done, "but we'll do the best we can."
Hannemann, who indicated that he would grant a time extension if needed, said he was aware that there's a temptation to sell off land to balance the budget when money is tight. That's why it is vital to make a comprehensive evaluation of city assets before deciding what should be done with them, he said.
Hannemann also announced the creation of a Mayor's Economic Development Advisory Team as a way to "maximize the city's revenues."
Comprising representatives from Honolulu's five major banks, the team will have the goal of encouraging cooperation between the private sector and the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, which is directed by Jeanne Schultz.
Along with Schultz, the steering committee will craft an economic development plan as requested by the city, Hannemann said.
But "their first and foremost priority will be to identify ways in which we can maximize revenues ... for the city," Hannemann said.
Reach Will Hoover at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8038.