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.