Plan calls for five-story parking structure

Mayor backs idea but questions who will pay for $15.7M structure
Members of a private design team presented a plan Friday for a $15.7 million five-story, 418-stall municipal parking structure in Wailuku.

The structure would be built on about half of the existing 210-stall parking lot bordered by North Market, North Vineyard, West Main and West Church streets, members of the design consultant team told the Maui Redevelopment Agency. The Public Works Department hired Honolulu-based Allison-Ide Structural Engineers and others to put together the plan, at least a year in the works.

"We think it fit in pretty tidy considering the space restraints we had," said architect Mel Choi.

On Friday afternoon, Mayor Alan Arakawa said he had not seen the parking structure's design and had not reviewed other aspects, such as how it would pay for itself.

"In general, I support the idea and more parking, but I'm not going to put my support behind this until I see something concrete," he said.

Last year, at the request of then-Mayor Charmaine Tavares, Maui County Council members approved spending $400,000 to match a $1.2 million federal stimulus program grant to plan the project. But it's unclear where the rest of the funding would come from.

The redevelopment agency advises the county Department of Planning, mayor and County Council on matters in the 68-acre Wailuku Redevelopment Area. A new municipal parking lot has long been on its to-do list. At its next meeting, the five-member panel will hear a financial parking management plan. The group usually meets on the third Friday of each month in the Planning Department conference room in the Kalana Pakui building.

"I think you did a really good job of getting a five-story structure shoehorned in there," said agency member Bill Mitchell.

However, he said "the most important components" are yet to be heard, such as whether it will be financially viable. He also expressed disappointment that the Maui Bus had not been included. It does include bike racks and places to plug in electric cars.

The project design calls for a widened Pili Street to go all the way through from its intersection with North Market Street (the current parking lot entrance between the Public Defender's Office and American Savings Bank) to West Church Street. The other portion of the lot would either become space for more parking at street level or for events, such as a farmers market, or a development.

The parking structure would reach the 45-foot height limit for the area, Choi said.

"We started out with a parking problem, and we need more parking, but this is just too big," testified Wailuku attorney Tony Takitani, who owns the neighboring Wailuku Executive Center at 24 N. Church St.

He later said that 50 percent of his building would be obstructed from view; and in addition, he and his tenants would have to endure a year and a half of construction noise, detours and temporary parking.

Wailuku resident Susan Halas said the proposed parking structure would be unnecessary and a blight. She recommended the county create several small parking areas instead. Halas also noted that in her 30 years of living in Wailuku, she has seen lots of parking structure plans fail.

The consultant team proffered a second alternative that would cost about $3 million less and have four floors, asphalt instead of concrete and at least 50 fewer parking spaces as well as no photovoltaic system, skylights, second elevator and many other accouterments, such as moldings, lattice railings and cornices.

Most of those features are meant to make the building more attractive, yet instantly be recognized as a parking structure by passing drivers, the designers said.

The main color would be "Colorado clay" brown. And, there would be local flowering plants and royal palms that require little water. The designers said they copied some of the aesthetics from landmark buildings nearby, such as the Iao Theater, for the new structure to fit in with the historic character of the town.

The parking structure is designed not to need ventilation or sprinkler systems or daytime lights. People would feel safer walking in it, engineer Brian Ide said.

The parking structure's design also includes wide lanes for vehicles to maneuver inside and no "fender-bender" columns, said Carl Walker of CW Consulting. It may be an automated self-park system, he said.
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Allison-Ide Structural Engineers
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www.allisonide.com
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