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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

20-year plan for Kalaeloa advances

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state agency guiding redevelopment of the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station at Kalaeloa yesterday adopted a revised master plan that envisions repopulating the 3,700-acre area with 6,350 homes, a 7,000-job business district, new schools, parks, roads and mass-transit depot.

Few major revisions were made to a draft plan presented to the community last year. The final plan requires approval by Gov. Linda Lingle and an endorsement from the Navy.

The plan's adoption yesterday by directors of the Hawai'i Community Development Authority marked another milestone in trying to revitalize the area in West O'ahu that has largely been abandoned since the base was closed in 1999.

The new 20-year plan hinges on attracting private investment to mostly pay for colossal infrastructure upgrades to the old base now mostly owned by the state.

An estimated $3.35 billion is needed to realize the plan, including $550 million to improve roads, water utilities, electrical systems and other infrastructure.

The state envisions private investors, like home and office developers, funding $3.13 billion of improvements in return for land or development rights. The roughly $220 million balance would be left to the local public sector and could come from tax revenue, assessments or bond financing paid by state and private landowners at Kalaeloa, or tax-increment financing.

A previous plan, created in the mid-1990s as part of the base closure process, considered almost no housing because residential growth was deemed more suitable in the 'Ewa region where there was ample land. Kalaeloa also raised noise and safety concerns because of its operating airport and proximity to Campbell Industrial Park.

Planners said residential development, including 30 percent affordable homes under city guidelines, is necessary to avoid saddling the state with $2 billion or more in area improvement costs.

Much of the envisioned upgrades involve efforts to alleviate traffic congestion, such as realigning the route of the planned North-South Road so that it runs from the H-1 Freeway into Kalaeloa before connecting with Ocean Pointe in 'Ewa.

As designed, the six-lane North-South Road will run from H-1 to Kapolei Parkway. Construction started on the $120 million road earlier this year at H-1 and isn't expected to be completed until 2008.

Another road realignment proposed in the Kalaeloa plan is making Saratoga Avenue the area's new traffic backbone instead of Roosevelt Avenue by extending Saratoga to connect with Geiger Road leading into 'Ewa Beach.

A mass transit loop and depot also are envisioned at Kalaeloa, according to the plan.

Land previously conveyed for parks or open space cannot be developed for residential or commercial use.

The plan is designed to be viable regardless of whether the Navy decides to base an air wing for a Pearl Harbor-ported aircraft carrier at Kalaeloa on land that the Navy has retained.

The Navy has yet to complete previously pledged land transfers of roughly 1,600 acres, or about 40 percent, of the former base, which complicates planning.

Coordinating development also will require cooperation between the other two major landowners the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the city.

Helping advance the plan will be Pearlyn Fukuba, a former Department of Land & Natural Resources spokeswoman recently hired to assist with Kalaeloa community relations. Fukuba is stationed at a new field office the agency opened last month on the former base next to the Navy commissary.

"Our goal there is to work closer with the community," said Stanton Enomoto, agency planning and redevelopment director for Kalaeloa. "I'm personally very excited to have some help out there. We'll have presence in the district."

Enomoto said the agency's next step is to formulate administrative rules to establish zoning, design and building standards. The agency, he said, will seek input from the community and city planning officials on that task.

The Kalaeloa master plan is available online at hcdaweb.org

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.