Kaka'ako Transit Oriented Development: Sky is the limit

Overlay of what’s possible includes three skyscrapers up to 700 feet tall

Published  5:21 PM HST May 13, 2013
HONOLULU -

The Kaka'ako skyline won't stay the same for long.

The just-released parameters of Transit Oriented Development encourages very tall, slender towers -- and lots of them in certain areas.

"It seems the Hawaii Community Development Authority is bending toward the whims of the developers in the area," said Wayne Takamine, of the Kaka'ako Community Advisory Council.

The just-released details of what's possible calls for buildings to exceed the 400-foot height limit.

It's an eye-opener -- an unspecified number of high-rises up to 550-feet-tall.

And instead of the one iconic super tower -- the 690 Pohukaina development -- there would be three.

One skyscraper would be allowed in the Auahi area, one in the Thomas Square area near the Neal Blaisdell Center, and one in the Pauahi area.

Imagine -- a building one-and-a-half-times as tall as the Waterfront Towers.

Area lawmakers worried about the variances to the Kaka'ako master plan say: "Not so fast."

"It lends itself to really diminish public trust in the agency because people sort of think, was that plan really just a fake, and was this what you had planned all along?" said Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga.

Fukunaga is also concerned about the timetable of growth.

She wonders whether the capacity of Sand Island Treatment Center will be able handle the extra sewage.

The area already has 14 buildings in the planning pipeline.

"There has got to be a lot of careful and thoughtful evaluation of what’s do able in what time frame, and how you incrementally go forward," Fukunaga said.

The Outdoor Circle is wary of all the exemptions -- likening it to the ill-fated Public Land and Development Corporation, or the PLDC.

The Kaka'ako Makai watchdog group frets about the need for open spaces and is wary of any planned building erected to honor President Barack Obama next to Point Panic.

"We are a little concerned about the height and  the mass of the building,” Takamine said.

That, and the possible restrictions on ocean users.

The train, and all that comes with it, stands to bring big changes from mauka to makai.

The  Hawaii Community Development Authority is to release details of the draft plan on May 23 with public open houses scheduled to follow:

May 23:  5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

May 24: 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

May 25: 10a.m. - 1 p.m.

May 30: 3:30-5:30 p.m.

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