A plan to develop an 800-unit affordable rental housing project on state land in Kakaako has been cut in half to make room for a public elementary school.
State Department of Education representatives along with the tentative developer of the high-rise project released conceptual plans today for recasting the project known as 690 Pohukaina. The plans were released to the board of a state agency that solicited competitive proposals to deliver affordable housing on the site about three years ago.
The contemplated change, however, has raised concerns over whether the modified plan conforms enough with the original request for competing bids from private developers so as not to make the request void or vulnerable to a challenge.
The Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency regulating development in Kakaako, issued the request in late 2012 to develop two acres of state land bordered by Pohukaina Street, Mother Waldron Park, Keawe Street and the Halekauwila Place low-income rental housing tower. The agency’s board tentatively picked a plan by an affiliate of Ohio-based Forest City Enterprises Inc. over a competing plan from Australia-based Lend Lease.
Forest City proposed 804 rental apartments in two towers along with 35,000 square feet of civic space for state office and library facilities, 4,400 square feet of community space and 30,000 square feet of commercial space for a restaurant, a small market, offices and other uses.
Now Forest City proposes producing one tower with about 400 mostly affordable apartments next to a 4-story elementary school with about 100,000 square feet of space, after DOE pressed the developer and HCDA to provide for an elementary school at the site. DOE had raised concerns for several years about existing school capacity being insufficient to accommodate people moving into new residential towers rising in Kakaako.
Proceeding with the plan is subject to HCDA and the developer reaching a formal development agreement with financial terms and final plans.
HCDA’s board concluded the public portion of its meeting and then met privately to hear advice from lawyers with the Attorney General’s office on whether the modified plans conform with the scope of the original proposal request. A decision on whether to move forward with Forest City or perhaps solicit new bids for developing the site is expected at a later date.