Waterfront parking plan may cost $20 million

The state agency overseeing Kaka'ako (Hawaii) waterfront redevelopment yesterday discussed plans to build residential units and an estimated $20 million parking structure to support a proposed aquarium, marine science center and future retail, restaurant and entertainment in the area.
bz04chart.gifThe Hawai'i Community Development Authority estimates it will need 2,500 parking stalls to accommodate the anticipated development just 'ewa of Kewalo Basin and makai of Ala Moana.

Under a preliminary design, the residential units would cloak a pair of connected six-story parking structures built in two phases, although other designs will be considered.

The authority's staff asked authority board members to approve up to $718,500 to analyze the cost, design, market demand, traffic effects and environmental impact of the parking, and up to $147,000 for similar studies of the residences.

The board approved the residential studies, but deferred a decision on parking planning after some members raised concerns about spending $718,500 for planning contingent on expected private development that may or may not happen.

Directors also asked how the parking structure, to be financed with revenue bonds, would be paid for. Teney Takahashi, agency director of planning and development, said some kind of guaranteed lease rent or fee assessed to aquarium and retail developers likely will be necessary to supplement parking revenue.

"We need to establish some pay-back system because I am not confident that revenues collected from (parking) users are going to cover the bonds and the debt service," he said.

The first phase of parking would primarily accommodate users of an aquarium and marine science center proposed by KUD International, which has a development agreement with the state and is expected by the end of the year to present a business plan that addresses parking costs.

Takahashi emphasized that parking plans depend on the aquarium and marine science center.

"We are going to be taking some risk," he said. "If the KUD project is delayed or deferred, so will this project, because without the KUD project there is no revenue to pay for the revenue bonds."

Board member Christine Camp, president of Avalon Development & Consulting, suggested that KUD be asked to share some of the risk by paying half of the parking planning cost, which could be returned to KUD if it goes forward with its project.

Jan Yokota, authority executive director, said she would discuss the idea with KUD, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan-based construction firm Kajima Corp.

Phase two of the parking would be driven by retail and entertainment development envisioned along Kewalo Basin. Yokota said she expects to solicit developers for the site within a year.

Besides serving customers and employees of the aquarium and retail businesses, the parking would serve surfers and as overflow parking for users of Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, which has its own free parking.

The parking structure would not be for the University of Hawai'i medical school, which is under construction and will have its own parking.

If residential units are built in the area, the parking also would serve residents, who are considered key in creating an urban village environment envisioned for Kaka'ako. One idea is to surround parts of the parking structure with residential units.

The design would maintain a low-rise atmosphere and conceal the parking.

Other ideas include development of residential units independent of the parking structures, or possibly on top of the parking — concepts that would be considered in the planning phase along with the number and type of units (rentals or condos) that might be built by a private developer.

The residential and parking studies are subject to approval by Gov. Linda Lingle and are expected to take several months to a year to complete.

The authority during next year's legislative session plans to seek permission to issue the parking revenue bonds, which would allow for a mid-2004 issuance.
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