Should the state accept General Growth's Kakaako redevelopment plan?
A better question to ask is, “How can Hawaii best handle inevitable growth in a way that improves our community?” The answer is to approve the proposed Ward Neighborhood Plan.
Hawaii Community Development Authority’s vision is to reshape Kakaako into a true urban community … where residents can live, work and play. With the proposed Ward Neighborhood Plan, we have the opportunity to see this vision become a reality.
Let’s face it. Kakaako’s time is now and, with forward thinking plans being proposed like General Growth’s, Kakaako will stand as a successful model for master planning an entire community. As a businessperson who has worked in the area for several years, I have been pleased with the improvements to Kakaako that General Growth has already completed at the Ward Centers. But the area is still home to many old, run-down buildings and warehouses and the condition of the streets leave much to be desired. Sure, some of these buildings would eventually be renovated anyway. But wouldn’t it be better if renovations were done as part of a broader master plan?
Instead of a cluttered industrial area, the Ward Neighborhood Plan will transform Kakaako with:
• Open public plazas where people can gather;
• Walkways, bikeways and wide, landscaped streets that will transform Kakaako into a walkable community;
• A wide range of residential units to appeal to all types of individuals and families;
• More venues for businesses, including retail, entertainment and restaurants, and areas for continued industrial uses.
As a community, we need to take a long-term approach to planning for our future. So again, the question is not simply whether to approve or disapprove a specific project. The question is, how can we create the best future for our community? To me, the answer is obvious. Approve the Ward Neighborhood Plan.
I am against the General Growth Properties (GGP) master development plan as currently proposed. Before moving on, I think the following concerns need to be addressed:
1. The plan, as it is, is much too dense.
2. The height limit along Ala Moana Boulevard should not exceed 200 feet. The plan currently calls for a solid wall, which, at 400 feet, becomes obstructive to everything mauka of it.
3. Where is the physical connection to the waterfront and to Ala Moana and Kakaako Park in the proposed master plan? I don’t see any pedestrian bridges to get across Ala Moana Boulevard.
4. The traffic in and out of the Ward neighborhood will greatly increase with this proposed plan and I do not see anything in the plan that increases the street infrastructure to accommodate the increased traffic. This will put an increased burden on all of the existing neighbors and the city for better infrastructure. I think better infrastructure should be provided by GGP to support its proposed plan.
5. The original “live, work and play” plan of the Hawaii Community Development Authority for the Kakaako area will not be realized by the proposed plan. The additional jobs provided by the proposed plan will be service-oriented retail jobs and the pay grade of this sector will not permit the employees to purchase the residential units proposed. This will further exacerbate the traffic problem.
6. The transit station depicted on GGP’s proposed plan is not in the same location as it is in the city’s plan.
I am supportive of the redevelopment of GGP’s land, but I think it should be less dense and satisfy the items above. It should also be conditional upon the Revised Mauka Area Rules, which should take affect before HCDA approves any proposed plan by GGP.
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