The veteran politico and developer sets his sights on historic Haleiwa
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 01, 2010
You've got to hand it to D.G. "Andy" Anderson: He keeps coming up with big ideas. They're not always big with the neighbors, though. People scratched their heads at the notion of John Dominis, the upscale restaurant built in the midst of a hot industrial zone, facing Kewalo Basin. That turned out well.
Other notions, folks couldn't swallow at all. They point to the idea of the Kakaako waterfront amusement park, complete with Ferris wheel. And now Anderson, at 80, is dealing with some ill will from the North Shore community over the proposal to build a replica of the 1899 Haleiwa Hotel on the Jameson's by the Sea restaurant property he owns along with adjacent city parcels he wants to acquire.
On Tuesday, before his rancorous meeting with vocal opponents, it was still the semi-retired Anderson, dressed down in polo shirt and cap and having an iced tea at the restaurant.
His opponents include those he once evicted to make way for Sunset Beach Colony, the gated community where he has taken up part-time residence.
He's rarely steered clear of contentious battles in a lifetime of legislating, running for governor and partnering with the late Frank Fasi as the city's managing director.
Now, he said, his interest lies in improving Haleiwa. He's part of a committee with a plan to bury area utility lines, widen sidewalks and make things generally less traffic-choked and more inviting.
The "boutique" hotel he wants to build would fit in well with a spruced-up town, he said; without improvements, Haleiwa can't live up to its billing as a historic attraction.
"It's a mess," Anderson said. "But it's a good mess."
Question: What was the origin of this project?
Answer: When I got this (property, I thought,) "How can I add to it?" When we looked at this for feasibility, we came up with the hotel. We came up with, "Why not build what was here in 1899?"
Q: When was it demolished?
A: It was demolished in, I think somebody said the '50s. The military took it over during the war. ... We couldn't find the blueprints for it. ... All we had to start with was a photograph. So (architect Joe Lancor) took the photograph and built this (indicating the artist's rendering) ... we can't find the bedrooms, we can't find some of the rooms. But we've researched it. My grandkids went to the Bishop Museum and the archives. I have 100 photos of patios, decks, dining rooms ...
Q: Was the hotel on this spot?
A: It was at Haleiwa Joe's ... so we're the closest we can get to it. We're the only site left in Haleiwa where there's an ocean view. This (spot) had a great ocean view. But if you go through Haleiwa town from bridge to bridge, it's all commercial shops, drug stores; it doesn't lend itself to this old gal to be someplace gracious and graceful ...
Q: What is proposed besides the main building?
A: There's a hotel proposed. We show scattered cottages that would replicate this concept.
Q: What's the size of the property?
A: Ours is only a half-acre. ... Joe tried. His first charge was to build a hotel on our parcel. The only way we could get that hotel on our parcel was right up here on the street because of the width. ... It doesn't belong on the street, it's not a motel. It's something special. You want to set it back. The town itself got its name from this hotel. This was the first hotel on Oahu. The same architect who did this did the Moana. ... So I said, "Joe, I tell you what, I'll give you some architectural freedom. Where does it belong? What can you do with it to make it what it should be?" He said, "Do I have any parameters?" I said no. So he came up with this. ... And that allowed us to go back with a grassy lawn. If you're going to do it, that's the way you want to do it. If we don't do it that way, we don't do it.
Q: How many rooms do you envision in the main building?
A: There's only about 12, 14, 15. We're not even sure yet. We haven't gone that far. This is a concept.
Q: And how many cottages?
A: Well, we're talking about an 80-room hotel in total. The old hotel was 40. We just doubled it, because we had to start someplace with a computer model. ... We do not want to do a Sheraton. We will do this or we will do nothing. We're not looking for a Waikiki-type hotel, we're not looking for a motel. ... Once we were happy that this was the way to go, we went and I researched the law ... and this had been designated as excess, remnant by the city. They had put that to writing.
Q: What was the reason for that designation?
A: It's narrow. If you look at it it's a very narrow parcel. It's in a flood zone. It's got street setbacks. There's a swamp back here ... and when you get down to this level you can't put a restroom in it because you're just a couple of feet above the ocean. So a leach field and a septic tank won't work. ... I think you could find this every four years for every mayor. I did it, when I was managing director. We are always evaluating our assets. I have during my tenure as managing director sold off roads, sold off easements to abutting property owners ...
Q: How difficult would it be for you to do what you want to do here?
A: We have to build a full, complete wastewater treatment plant, $900,000. Then we can get away from septic tanks, from leach fields. The wastewater plant that we're talking about, the recommendation came from the president of the chamber of commerce here. It's a plant that has been used at Hualalai. It converts wastewater to an R-2 level. R-2 level wastewater can be used for irrigating the lawn and the plants ... These (overhead) wires were budgeted to take down ... $1,300 a lineal foot. That's something like $700,000 or $800,000. The city said, "Take all of this land or take nothing." But we don't know the cost of the land yet; that's got to be the appraised price. But if you take all of this, myself or Kamehameha Schools, because Kamehameha Schools, as also an abutting property owner, has the right to outbid us. So it's not a done deal just for Andy Anderson. ... They have no plan for it; they would land bank it. Because if you come down here behind this (pointing to a map), and you continue all the way out of Haleiwa? All Kamehameha Schools. The swamp is all Kamehameha Schools, the fishpond is all Kamehameha Schools. They own everything but they have no plan.
Q: This seemed to come up suddenly. Did you approach the city?
A: I only sent one letter to the city: "As the law provides, would you sell me the abutting property?" It was conceptual. I'm not sure in the end, and I want to be very careful with this: With $700,000, $900,000, the city's mandate was I also, if I buy this land for X dollars, would have to provide 25 or 30 parking stalls for the public. We have to put in a crosswalk here next to the Haleiwa Beach Park, either street lights or crosswalk, something that is determined to be safe for the pedestrian, and then we have got to put in a walkway the entire length, OK? Estimated cost, today ... $800,000.
Q: There's a lot of cost in here for you, right?
A: That's right, but in a concept, you've got to keep going to determine whether all these costs make sense. We could go four months down the road with all of this effort and say, "Anderson, you're really crazy, you're getting too old and you're senile -- it just won't pencil." But we won't know that until we ...
Q: See what the price is?
A: Yes. ... The community that's driving the opposition is out of Sunset Beach. The Sunset Beach people are trying to dictate what is good for Haleiwa and Waialua and have the last say. I think this decision should be from people from Waialua and Haleiwa who are impacted, versus all of those people who are living in their $2 million houses in Sunset Beach. ... There's one lady who's leading it, her husband just parked a truck there with a sign. ... I evicted her out of Sunset Beach Colony when I did it. This is a personal thing with her. This is time for revenge. She and one other person that is opposed to it, I evicted them both. ... They've never forgiven me, and now it's my time. ...
I happen to believe that this is needed. I really do. There's no place to stay out here, there's no place to come and reside and spend the night. So you come and you come back tomorrow and you come back the next day, and the cars come and come and go. ... When they say, "Keep country country," the one thing that is destroying "country" is the expansion and the continuation of bed-and-breakfasts on the North Shore. We have today, and they won't admit it, a mini-Waikiki -- 455 bed-and-breakfasts, say two bedrooms a house, which is conservative, that's about a 1,000-room hotel they have out here, OK? ... Go and talk to people like we have, the people who pump the septic tanks. When some of these people buy a bed-and-breakfast house, a one-bedroom becomes a two-bedroom, a two-bedroom becomes a four-bedroom and the septic tanks get expanded. And it's a continual job. That's destroying this family community. The bed-and-breakfasts are impacting and changing Haleiwa because it's going from a family community to a business.
Many of those Sunset people opposing me own illegal bed-and-breakfasts. They live in glass houses, but they are changing Haleiwa.
Q: Would you say the opposition includes those who don't want the competition?
A: That could be as well. I did meet with one of them who called me, a young lady, and that was her concern. Not the hotel, it was, "You're going to be my competition."
Q: What is the target market for guests?
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With 455 bed-and-breakfasts booked almost every night, mind you, winter, summer, fall, that shows you the demand to come out here and live and stay and play. And so I think there's a market out here.