The Hawaii Public Housing Authority issued on Friday a Request for Qualifications seeking a Master Developer for the future mixed income redevelopment of Mayor Wright Homes.
"This announcement is a starting point in the journey to redevelop and improve the lives of residents that live at one of the oldest and largest low-income public housing properties in the HPHA portfolio," HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi said. "This RFQ will catalyze public and private investment to create a vibrant mixed income community, will be consistent with Downtown Transit Oriented Development (TOD) objectives, and increase affordable rental housing options in our state."
Mayor Wright Homes is a federal low-income public housing development that has been in use for more than 60 years. It was built in 1953 and modernized in 1984.
With inadequate state and federal funds available to address its capital needs, the mixed-income, mixed-finance, mixed-use model will provide the additional capital necessary to truly revitalize the site and surrounding neighborhood.
The state says the project will cost about half a billion dollars and take roughly three years to finish.
"This RFQ delivers on a promise to continue to reinvest in this community," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. "Under Hakim's leadership, the state has aggressively addressed repair backlogs in public housing projects, and security has greatly improved. We are moving forward on long-term improvements that will have a lasting, beneficial impact to families and the community."
"I don't think the public understands. This will change Palama and it will change Palama forever going forward," said Rep. Mark Hashem.
"Our vision for Mayor Wright in the future is a mixed development that doesn't ghettoize people. That replaces unit for unit with what we have but with more density and different kinds of income levels living in this vital section of our community" said HPHA Board Chair David Gierlach.
The state says when, and if, construction starts, the residents living there will be relocated nearby to stay at. When construction's done, the state says those residents will be able to move back in for the same amount of rent they're currently paying.
A lot of the residents we've spoken with are concerned about the potential changes to their living situation.
Other requirements needed to be met in the selection of a Master Developer are as follows: one-for-one replacement of existing public housing units, high-quality designs and construction that incorporate energy conservation and green practices in a LEED-certifiable project, the ability to finance the project with private funding, incorporation of the surrounding neighborhood, and supporting the development of human capital with job opportunities for low-income public housing residents.