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Saturday, November 22, 2014         

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Workshops cover development near transit stations

Two meetings about construction near the rail system are set for Monday and Tuesday

By Gene Park

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Two community meetings this week will feature discussion of development around the six planned rail transit stations in Kalihi and downtown, the 20-mile route's most developed areas.

The goal of transit-oriented development is to identify housing, retail, commercial and recreational opportunities around each of the planned 21 stations.

"Developers are going to take the low-hanging fruit," said Terrance Ware, the city's transit-oriented development administrator. "What we're trying to do is create a plan that identifies what the community's major concerns are, and then tie that to the market."

The Kalihi-area workshop will be held Monday at Kalakaua Middle School, and the downtown workshop will be Tuesday in the Hawaii Community Development Authority's conference room.

IF YOU GO

The city Department of Planning and Permitting will hold community meetings to receive input on transit-oriented development around six stations in the Kalihi and downtown areas.

» The Kalihi workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Kalakaua Middle School cafeteria at 821 Kalihi St.

» The downtown workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Hawaii Community Development Authority’s conference room at 461 Cooke St.

For more information, visit www.honoluludpp.org/planning or contact Bonnie Arakawa at 768-8048.

 

Transit-oriented development is cited as a key component and benefit of the $5.3 billion system. Four consulting firms are working on development plans. So far, plans for East Kapolei, Waipahu, Aiea and Pearl City are almost complete. Those plans are being developed by consulting firm Van Meter Williams Pollack.

The Kalihi and downtown plans are being prepared by urban planning firm Dyett & Bhatia.

Some landowners have said they are in a wait-and-see mode until the project begins construction. So far, the only construction the city is allowed to do is relocate utilities along the route.

Development plans can also include more affordable housing in the areas. In February, the city received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a database of housing along the route, and to study what impediments there might be to providing additional affordable housing.

Interest has grown in recent months, said David Tanoue, director of the city Department of Planning and Permitting, which will oversee transit-oriented development projects. Tanoue said he's had meetings with developers ramp up, but there are still no concrete plans set in more central areas of the route.

On the west side, the Hoopili housing project by D.R. Horton, the Kroc Center and the University of Hawaii- West Oahu campus are all being planned around the stations.

"There is some caution," Tanoue said. "They're doing their internal planning. They're doing their long-term entitlement process."

Ware said developers are naturally risk-averse, but that is why community meetings are important. If there are things the community does not want as part of transit-oriented development, the city needs to know, he said.

"The more people we have involved at the beginning of the process, the less issues there will be in the back of it," Ware said. "What a developer wants out of the process is certainty. He doesn't want to go into a community meeting and get yelled at by people who disagree with his plan."

Elected officials come and go, but community stakeholders will be in their areas for years, Ware said. He hopes attendance to the meetings will be high, and remain high throughout the eight years during which the project will be built.

"Come early, and help us design the fire sprinkler system," he urged. "Don't show up when the fire is under way."






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