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Ward Centers redevelopment plan gets makeover

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    This artists rendering shows what Auahi Street will look like once construction is completed on a redesign of the area.

The owner of Ward Centers unveiled a revised vision today for redeveloping the collection of retail and industrial businesses covering 60 acres in Kakaako into a neighborhood dominated by residences and retail.

The new plan by Howard Hughes Corp. calls for skinnier towers and better mauka-makai views between them, among other changes that replace a four-year-old conceptual master plan created by former site owner, General Growth Properties.

Hughes Corp. anticipates being able to start construction on an initial phase that includes two market-priced residential towers and one moderate-priced residential tower in early 2014.

A renovation of the IBM office building also is part of the first phase that the company said will generate $1.25 billion in economic impact and 9,000 jobs.

Completion of the first phase is projected for 2016.

The revised vision comes two years after Texas-based Hughes Corp. acquired Ward Centers from Chicago-based General Growth as part of a deal to bring General Growth out of bankruptcy.

“The Howard Hughes Corp. is honored to take a leading role in the evolution of Kakaako,” Nick Vanderboom, company vice president of development, said in a written statement.

The new plan for Ward Centers, which Hughes Corp. is calling Ward Village, represents a significant modification of the plan crafted by General Growth, which owns the state’s largest shopping center, Ala Moana Center, located about a quarter-mile from Ward Centers.

General Growth announced its conceptual redevelopment plan for the Ward property in 2008. The Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency governing development in Kakaako, approved a broad framework in 2009, allowing up to 9.3 million square feet of building area on the 60 acres roughly bounded by Ala Moana, Queen Street, the IBM Building at the diamondhead end of Auahi Street and a cluster of parcels just ewa of Ward Avenue.

A centerpiece of Ward Neighborhood was a 3.3-acre landscaped central plaza connected to two smaller pedestrian plazas along Auahi, which was to be transformed into a boulevard lined with trees, gardens, open seating and outdoor art. Hughes Corp. is retaining the central plaza component, but will orient it more to face Kewalo Basin. The revised plan also would transform Auahi into a more pedestrian-friendly boulevard.

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