Boat harbor may add wedding chapels
by Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
Two small wedding chapels are part of a plan to redevelop portions of the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and generate increased revenue for the state.
Honey Bee USA Inc. is proposing to establish facilities for weddings overlooking the Ala Wai harbor and Magic Island in its plan to upgrade old boat fueling, haul-out and repair facilities at the state's largest recreational harbor.
Some members of the boating community have questioned the compatibility of weddings and boat repair and fueling operations. But Honey Bee said the plan will result in a "vibrant maritime commercial center" that will attract more people to the 750-slip harbor.
The state also will financially benefit from expanded use of the sites by way of rent Honey Bee pays for the land.
The company headed by Hideaki Shimakura was selected by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation last year to lease and improve the two sites. Recently, Honey Bee filed a draft environmental assessment with details of its plan.
The project dubbed "Waikīkī Landing" is estimated to cost $9.7 million, and would demolish existing buildings on two sites — one with a fuel dock and convenience store, and one that had a boat repair business operated by Ala Wai Marine Ltd. until early last year.
On the boat repair site, Honey Bee would construct two new buildings — a two-story wedding chapel seating 20 to 25 guests, and a three-story commercial building with shops and restaurants largely supporting the marine community.
Boat haul-out and repair work would be re-established on other portions of the roughly 1-acre site with new equipment including a pollution filtration system and leadership from Honey Bee partner and former Ala Wai Marine executive Nobuaki Yoshino.
On the fuel dock site, Honey Bee plans a two-story building topped by a two-story observation deck.
The ground floor would be occupied by a new convenience store and offices for harbor-related businesses such as a yacht brokerage. The second floor would contain a wedding chapel and meeting facility. The observation deck is designed to give state harbor officials a view of the entire harbor and create a focal point for the area.
Kayak and surfboard racks are also included in the plans.
Honey Bee has committed to pay the state $564,000 annually for the first decade of a 55-year lease. Annual rent would rise in four subsequent increments topping out at $1.1 million in years 26 to 30. After that, rent would be renegotiated.
Honey Bee also has pledged to pay about $88,000 a year to rent 16 boat slips that it will renovate.
Ala Wai Marine and fuel dock tenant Magic Island Petroleum Inc. collectively were paying $150,000 a year combined.
"It's good for us," said Ed Underwood, administrator of DLNR's boating division. "(The rent revenue) can help us with much-needed repairs and maintenance."
Honey Bee said its proposal maximizes the use of valuable land at the gateway to Waikīkī and enhances maritime services for the Ala Wai boating community while providing a reasonable return to the state.
DLNR issued a request for proposals and qualifications to lease and redevelop the two parcels covering 53,568 square feet in December 2008. Though two qualified developers expressed interest, only Honey Bee submitted a proposal.
The company will need to obtain various approvals, including a zoning variance and special district and conditional use permits to proceed.
If Honey Bee moves forward, the project would add to what has been more than $30 million in harbor facility upgrades made by the state over the past six years, including rebuilding some docks at the Ala Wai.
The additional revenue for state harbor operations from Honey Bee would be another source of higher income being pursued by the state. Earlier this month, DLNR raised mooring fees by 30 percent to 60 percent.