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HPU in dispute over remake of Aloha Tower

By Andrew Gomes

LAST UPDATED: 12:24 p.m. HST, Jan 03, 2013

Hawaii Pacific University’s attempt to proceed with a $32 million makeover of Aloha Tower Marketplace with a blend of retail, student housing and school facilities remains in limbo after a state agency deferred action today on recognizing the university as the project developer.

HPU needs approval from the Aloha Tower Development Corp. to assume management and redevelopment control of the 165,000-square-foot open-air retail center fronting Honolulu Harbor from a private developer that started the project about a year ago.

But the developer, Hawaii Lifestyle Retail Properties LLC led by Ed Bushor, is attempting to retain control of the project and has alleged that HPU, his financing partner, stole control from him.

The dispute between Bushor’s company and the university is in arbitration.

Aloha Tower Development Corp., a state agency that owns the land under the marketplace, deferred action on a request by HPU to recognize it as the owner and developer of the project.

HPU said its plan is not substantially different from what Bushor initially proposed.

Under HPU’s plan, the marketplace plagued by high vacancy would get a new name, possibly Tower District, as well as new retailers and restaurants, dorms for 320 students and a sports and entertainment complex.

Dorms would be created from the mall’s mostly vacant second-story space.

The ground floor would keep its retail focus but also include some classroom space and HPU’s business school.

A sports and entertainment complex, dubbed the Aloha Cultural Theater, would have a spectator capacity of 1,000 to 2,000 indoors and potentially 4,000 using an outside promenade. The facility would feature a basketball court for the university and also serve as a venue for concerts, performing arts and other local community events.

The former Hawaii Maritime Center at Pier 7 would be converted to an HPU faculty club and alumni center.

A new parking lot at piers 5 and 6 is also part of the plan.

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allie wrote:
A faculty Club? An Entertainment center? What the...? I thought they were claiming to be a college? Makes no sense. Looney tunes.
on January 3,2013 | 11:33AM
HazieMae wrote:
Private university, private funds. Why would you care (especially being a Manoa student)?
on January 3,2013 | 12:33PM
allie wrote:
private is relative hon. It is tax exempt which means all tax payers subsidize it by paying higher taxes. Same is true of Punahou, KS, Iolani, etc.
on January 3,2013 | 01:52PM
ichiban wrote:
Come again? Never heard of this tax code. So you're saying that ALL private schools are tax exempt? How did the IRS miss that clause. The state gotta be getting something back. I can see KS because it's set up as a trust. Explain further why private schools are tax exempt, something smells fishy.
on January 3,2013 | 02:59PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
HPU is about as far from "non-profit" as you can get in Hawaii. About 30K a year last I heard.
on January 3,2013 | 03:31PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Wrong again - private school does not mean "non profit". KS is the only school you mentioned that is tax exempt. The benefits that KS provides to the state via free and discounted education saves the state millions every year. Far more than any other school or non profit for that matter. Check yourself before speaking about things you know nothing about.
on January 3,2013 | 03:25PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
You might want to take your own advice. From the HPU website: "Hawai'i Pacific University (HPU) is a private, nonprofit university with a student population of approximately 7,000 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students". http://www.hpu.edu/About_HPU/index.html
on January 3,2013 | 09:13PM
HD36 wrote:
Nonprofit doesn't mean it's supported by tax payers. If that was true, we'd be paying taxes to support every church in the state.
on January 4,2013 | 12:38AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
If you read my post, you might notice that I never said it was supported by taxpayers.
on January 4,2013 | 08:01AM
HD36 wrote:
And even if it is nonprofit, it doesn't mean the taxpayer is funding the operation. If that was true, we'd be paying for all the churches in the state.
on January 4,2013 | 12:42AM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
Non profits are only exempt from Corporate income taxes. They are still liable for sales, property and "Unrelated Business Taxes" which would include all the business "fees" that the city and state levies every chance they get. Most of the activities on the proposed complex would generate tax income.
on January 4,2013 | 03:29AM
burymeagain wrote:
Makes perfect sense for a business school.
on January 3,2013 | 01:30PM
Mediocrates wrote:
right, because no university has these sorts of things... Perhaps you didn't go to college and don't know?
on January 3,2013 | 10:35PM
hikine wrote:
So essentially it's going to be a college campus? HPU must be financially well off!
on January 3,2013 | 12:29PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
An attractive facility is a great recruiting tool. I'm speaking of prospective students, not just athletics. It sounds like it could be a win-win. It's not like the state would raze Aloha Tower and build something else, so they need to figure out a way to leverage what's already there. Put it this way: it couldn't do worse than the status quo.
on January 3,2013 | 12:54PM
Mythman wrote:
Remember when they "developed" "New" China town up from "old" China town, what a bust that was. Ala Moana center is the mall it is because of the enormous amount of FREE parking there. Aloha Tower parking is hard to come by and not free. HPU has pretty much single handedly saved a big chunk of downtown from further decay.
on January 3,2013 | 01:05PM
Wazdat wrote:
Sounds like a COMPLETE JOKE to me. Ocean front dorms ????
on January 3,2013 | 01:30PM
ready2go wrote:
How can the State of Hawaii allow this school to use Hawaii tax free bond financing for the development of private commercial businesses? Is HPU responsible for the entire loan repayments?
on January 3,2013 | 01:39PM
admiral wrote:
Absolutely right, ready2go. Like many people, I've lamented the waste of that great location's potential for so many years. I don't know which is worse, the dead, empty spaces or the cheap junk (including in most of the restaurants) that is offered for sale--mostly for tourists, since locals don't go there. In fact, I think about Aloha Tower every time I'm visiting the Ferry Building in San Francisco: A similar location with one-stop shopping for the best wine, cheese, bread, coffee, etc., etc., and good on-site nearby restaurants. And a fabulous farmer's market on the weekend. It attracts tons of tourists and ALSO locals. With all the good food being grown and produced in Hawai`i these days, and the emerging restaurant scene, why can't we do something like that at Aloha Tower?
on January 3,2013 | 02:14PM
Wazdat wrote:
Good ideas. Problem is NO PARKING
on January 3,2013 | 03:03PM
Skyler wrote:
Wish there was a 'Like" button... 1.
on January 3,2013 | 03:44PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Aloha Tower has been mis-managed for years. They totally blew new years for many families when management took over the event and their fireworks show malfunctioned. Since they can't even do a small fireworks show correctly how can they possibly take on such a huge project?
on January 3,2013 | 01:43PM
Roosevelt wrote:
Fantastic recruiting tool. I can only imagine being 18 years old and visiting a campus where the dining hall selection is Hooter's or Gordon Biersch, coupled wit an oceanfront dorm room. "Mom, I think this is the school for me."
on January 3,2013 | 01:45PM
allie wrote:
giggle...fun in the sun
on January 3,2013 | 01:51PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
What an astonishing waste of some of the most desirable space on Oahu. Any other city with a harbor access point like this would have developed it into a world class attraction. But the best these people can do is make dormitory space for a second/third tier university?

Hey, here's an idea...make this the incubator, the trial run, for Abercrombie's PLDC. Ask the private sector to come forward with development ideas as a partner to the State. Make it into a competition through Requests for Proposals and open this discussion up to the people, too.

Once given away, this rare piece of real estate may never be available to create something for all the people of Oahu and the visitors, too. We all know the problems with parking and lack of night life & activity but other cities have overcome these issues and if the State thinks it can honcho a 650 foot Troll Tower development, how about it shows us it can honcho an enhancement to our waterfront?

on January 3,2013 | 02:04PM
islandsun wrote:
Aloha Tower was never a good draw because of the parking issue. Let HPU run with what they have on the board. For that spot, it makes more sense than a large condo/retail, which is what the state wants.
on January 3,2013 | 02:10PM
Skyler wrote:
I'm sure the parking won't improve, which I do agree has also kept me away when I'm in the area.
on January 3,2013 | 03:42PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Sounds like Ed Bushor got greedy and put the brakes on this proposal or did HPU try to slip one by?.........we await the outcome of arbitration.
on January 3,2013 | 03:06PM
Mediocrates wrote:
A private land developer get greedy?! Surely this couldn't possibly be the explanation...
on January 3,2013 | 10:30PM
Skyler wrote:
I kinda think having student dorms in an environment with "watering holes" is not a good thing. Something about drunks & college co-eds... not a good mixture, doncha think?
on January 3,2013 | 03:41PM
Anonymous wrote:
You missed the point here. HPU is a joke school and this purchase will only increase their ability to bring academically useless students over wanting a 4 year vacation. No reason for them to purchase this other than pure marketing purposes. That's fine and dandy if they want to do that, but not when tax dollars are being used to subsidize the bonds on this !
on January 3,2013 | 04:04PM
Mediocrates wrote:
Clear you don't know what you are talking about. Tax dollars are not subsidizing anything on this. The state is merely allowing the university to take out bonds. Furthermore, I've seen HPU students perform excellently throughout this community in a variety of different disciplines. Good students, good school.
on January 3,2013 | 10:33PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
Actually they are ranked in the top 100 western universities. #81 in the Western US to be exact. In addition their stated admission requirements are on par with UH Manoa BUT unlike UH they don't let non qualified students in just because they bring federal funds.
on January 4,2013 | 03:41AM
poidragon wrote:
How do you lose control of something that you had no control over in the first place? Until the ATDC releases it's management control of the property in question, neither developer has the rights to redevelop the aloha tower market place!
on January 3,2013 | 04:13PM
mcc wrote:
The State planners are out of their minds. Tourism is our golden egg, Give business owners lower lease rent plus a percentage leases so they can lower prices with lower lease rents.They will have more people there because the prices will not need to be exhorbitant, and business will thrive s othe State will make more money. Win, win!
on January 3,2013 | 04:58PM
HD36 wrote:
I could picture a mega strip club. The Costco of clubs. Cheap prices, but solid merchandise.
on January 4,2013 | 12:41AM
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