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North Shore project praised


North Shore residents taking in Kamehameha Schools’ new plans for their community gave it mostly high marks yesterday at a community meeting.

Kamehameha’s North Shore Plan covers the 26,000-acre, mauka-to-makai swath between Waimea and the eastern outskirts of Haleiwa.

The plan includes seven key projects, but much of the buzz yesterday was about redevelopment of the 4 acres surrounding the historic Matsumoto and Aoki shave ice stores in the center of town.

Plans are to demolish three buildings in the area, including the one containing the Aoki store; retaining four structures, including the Matsumoto store; and expanding around the existing buildings.

Kamehameha planners said commercial space on the combined parcel would double to 28,000 square feet from about 14,000 square feet.

The dusty lot between the two shave ice stores would be replaced by shops and shady areas, set back from the road. New development would divert most pedestrian traffic away from busy Kamehameha Highway. A paved parking lot with nearly 100 stalls would be in the back.

Waialua resident Debbie Wayman, 51, said that as a retired firefighter who used to drive a firetruck on emergency runs through the narrow part of Haleiwa, she supports redirecting pedestrians away from the main road.

"The increase in pedestrian traffic the past few years has been pretty dramatic," she said.

Mat D’Ascoli, 27, said the architectural renderings look "as country as it gets." Sidewalks connecting the buildings will encourage more foot traffic for the stores.

Several shop owners said they support the changes but are nervous about what they will mean for their own livelihoods.

The building housing Aoki’s Shave Ice and Iwa Gallery will be razed to make way for the new project. Aoki’s has a designated site in a new building, while Scott Bechtol, Iwa Gallery owner, said Kamehameha Schools has promised to try to help him relocate.

"We’re not used to maybe a mall-style rent," said Cathy Aoki, 37, a third-generation Aoki Store owner tasked with determining whether a new business plan is needed to keep the family establishment viable.

Kalani Fronda, Kamehameha Schools land asset manager, said Matsumoto and Aoki stores will be the anchors and have the first preference for space.

Fronda said tenants are now paying between 30 percent and 40 percent of the going lease rent for commercial space in Haleiwa. Part of the reason is that the older buildings do not comply with city codes, have sub-par infrastructure, and have been in need of improvements for years, he said.

Tenants will now pay maintenance fees for upgraded electrical, sewer and water lines, as well as shared restrooms and recreational areas that will be inviting to customers, he said.

Kamehameha Schools is expected to ask the City Council for a zoning change later this year for the Matsumoto area only and expects to have the project finished by 2013.

At the community meeting across the street at Liliuokalani Protestant Church, residents praised the landowner for developing affordable housing and a diversified mix of job-generating projects for the area.

Those projects include a wind farm in the hills above Kawailoa Plantation and improvements to a century-old water system designed to bring more diversified agriculture to the area.


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