Downtown residents weigh in on HPU Aloha Tower plans

Neighborhood board is briefed on redevelopment project

Published  10:39 PM HST Jan 03, 2013
HONOLULU -

"Hawaii Pacific University has been working very quietly on this project for a little more than a year now," said Todd Simmons.

The HPU Communication vice-president appeared before the downtown neighborhood board at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night.

HPU said it was developer Ed Buchor who first approached them about being a part of the redevelopment of the iconic Aloha Tower Marketplace.

There was no mention at the meeting of how the deal between the two entities has soured and is headed to arbitration.

The Aloha Tower Corporation put off officially voting on the transfer of the lease of the state owned property from Bushor to HPU.

The school intends to use state bonds to finance the project.  It plans to house 300 college students in dorms at the marketplace and anchor a sports and entertainment venue at the tower.

It also intends to redevelop the adjacent defunct maritime center into a faculty club,

HPU introduced Scott Hiyashi as its new point man for the project, should the project get the nod from the Aloha Tower Development Corporation board.

Some downtown residents welcomed the idea of HPU anchoring both sides of Fort Street, underscoring that the school has been an economic engine for the downtown district.

"I am glad HPU has stepped up to straighten this mess out the state has failed miserable ever since they took over Aloha Tower  more than 20 years ago," said Lynne Matusow.

Others questioned whether a college campus was a good fit for the area.

They wanted to know more about the school's plans to deal with parking and partying.

"I live across from there. If you have something noisy, I don’t want you there. If you have students running around all night long, I don’t want you there," said Tom Smyth.

And still others wondered about retail mix and how HPU was going continue to draw cruise ship passengers and local residents to the marketplace.

HPU tried to allay those fears.

"This is not intended to be an exclusive university property. We are not talking about moving the entire university down there,” said Simmons.

The school assured the board its willing to appoint a liason with the downtown community as it moves forward with its plan.

The board voted to give the project support in principle, but wanted to see more details about the development plans.

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