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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Project would fit nicely at Honolulu Harbor

One has to admire the tenacity of Texas developer Ken Hughes, who has been pushing for a retail and housing project on Honolulu Harbor for several years.

For a variety of reasons, the state, which controls the land where development would occur, has thrown up objections or concerns about the planned project. In response, Hughes has modified his plans several times, most notably by shifting from a fee-simple project to one that focuses on leasehold residential units.

While the state (actually the Aloha Tower Development Corp., an arm of the state) has a right and a duty to be cautious, there is a danger here that a grand opportunity could be lost.

Hughes has his eye on a parcel on Piers 5 and 6, which are on the harborfront opposite the Aloha Tower commercial complex. His vision, and it has changed over time, is for a development that would include some commercial uses, residential units and abundant parking.

It adds up to precisely what the area needs.

The Aloha Tower project is attractive, but has struggled because it lacks a built-in customer base and adequate parking.

Those are the two elements Hughes would bring to the mix.

Honolulu has consistently failed to make full use of the huge potential the harborfront represents. The Aloha Tower development, along with existing amenities such as the Maritime Museum and a new cruise ship terminal under construction, are steps toward righting this misuse.

The Hughes project would be another, important piece of what should be a successful waterfront renewal. If the Aloha Tower Development Corp. believes this is not the right answer, it should come up with its own ideas. Now.