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Mixed reactions over hotel proposed for Honolulu's Chinatown

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Chinatown hotel

HONOLULU (KITV4) - Honolulu could be home to yet another hotel, but it won't be in Waikiki, or any other area known for hosting visitors. 

If approved, the 4-star, 240-room hotel outfitted with a rooftop restaurant and pool -- would be located in Chinatown. 

Ikenakea Development touts its $127 million project as a vision for revitalizing a deteriorating district, and an opportunity to provide 100 full-time local jobs. 

"Bringing in 150,000 people annually to participate in the different restaurants as well as the ones we're going to develop is exciting," Kali Watson of Ikenakea Development said. 

Some residents are not thrilled about the idea, questioning how the hotel could impact traffic, as well as the essence of the community. 

"This modern, towering hotel would mar the architectural beauty and scale of the district," Christine Trecker said while testifying virtually during a Honolulu city council meeting discussing the project Thursday. 

After meeting with community members and the neighborhood board, the developers drafted a mock up of the 240,000 square foot structure, which includes a dragon design at the bottom of the building. 

"We tried to keep the architectural components consistent with the Chinatown area," Ikenakea Development's Chris Flaherty said. 

The hotel would be built along Nimitz Highway and the developers are requesting multiple exemptions from the Honolulu city council. Namely, the group plans for the 16-story structure to stand at 200 feet tall, more than double the area's building height limit.

When asked if they would stay at a hotel nearby, visitors strolling through Chinatown gave mixed responses. 

"I was raised by a Chinese family and yes, I would stay here," Barb Walker said. 

Visitor Janet Livingston, however, said, "we would probably not because we're from the desert and we'd like to stay at the ocean, we'd like to stay at the beach."

To cater to local residents, project leaders said they will include spaces community groups can use for free. The developers are also mulling over plans to create 24 offsite affordable housing units, which may be stalled or scrapped because funding is tight.

The developers added they would consider making connections to the rail station city leaders plan to build nearby.

The group is preparing an environmental assessment for the project and expects it will be ready within the next month.

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