comscore Will a shorter rail route hurt Kakaako development? | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Will a shorter rail route hurt Kakaako development?


    Oahu’s fixed-rail system that was to connect Kapolei to Ala Moana Center was to help transform Kakaako into a modern, trendy, urban communitywhere people could live, work and play without ever getting into their cars.

Leave the car at home. Just minutes to Ala Moana or downtown. Save money on gas and parking.

These are some of the messages that sales teams have been telling potential buyers at several of the new condominium projects in Kakaako over the past couple of years.

Oahu’s fixed-rail system that was to connect Kapolei to Ala Moana Center was to help transform Kakaako into a modern, trendy, urban community where people could live, work and play without ever getting into their cars.

That’s on hold for now as Mayor Kirk Caldwell joined other leaders in recommending to cut short the planned 20-mile route by about 5 miles at Middle Street as costs for the multibillion-dollar system soar. So the rail might never reach Kakaako and serve the thousands of people who will be moving into the new, shiny high-rises in the coming years, leaving developers and some condo buyers in the lurch.

For Keauhou Place, which is under construction near Restaurant Row, the absence of rail would be a significant blow as a station was proposed next to the 43-story tower.

“Any insights if the rail will make it to Keauhou Place?” a buyer recently asked on Keauhou Place’s Facebook page. “It was one of the main reasons I wanted to live there.”

The rail was heavily incorporated into Keauhou Place’s sales materials and presentations. Keauhou Place even incorporated a Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit simulation video showing how reliable, quiet, fast and convenient the rail will be.

“Surrounded by restaurants and shops in the urban village of Kakaako, you can go to the beach or hop on the new light rail for easy downtown access,” Keauhou Place’s website says.

At Ward Village there are models showing the planned rail line and station in proximity to its condo projects that are under construction or in the works. One of the rail stations is proposed along Ward Avenue, across the street from the Ke Kilohana development. At Ke Kilohana all 375 of the reserve-housing units, including the two- and three- bedroom residences, come with just one parking stall.

So some buyers may have been counting on the rail.

The rail route was also planned to run alongside several other Howard Hughes projects, including the luxury Ae‘o and Anaha towers.

“Honolulu’s forthcoming light rail system will directly connect Ward Village to destinations including downtown Honolulu and Waikiki,” says a display at the Ward Village sales center.

The mayor has said he wants to see the rail eventually go all the way to Ala Moana Center. But the city is more than $1.5 billion short of covering the project’s $8.3 billion projected price tag.

“I wish we could go all the way to Ala Moana now. That’s for another day,” Caldwell told the HART board.

With or without the rail, Kakaako is still a desirable and convenient place to live that’s close to everything. But if the rail fails to reach and serve one of the fastest-growing areas of the island, the true potential and vision of Kakaako and the island will be cut short.

Jaymes Song is a top-producing agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty in Kahala. He can be reached at 228-3332 or

Comments (82)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

    • The reality is “with” RAIL THE ENTIRE ISLAND LOSES. Stop the RUSTING OVERPRICED RAIL AT THE STADIUM And turn the existing guide way into reversible 2 lane highway for all to use and reduce the traffic. Just think a skyway highway going to and fro each day and NO future overhead from RAIL UNION OPERATIONS & MAINTANANCE . Its the smart way to go. WAKE UP HONOLULU AND THINK. They use this in Houston on highway 10 and it works like a charm. Sometimes the answer is easy all you have to do is think without GREED.

      • Rail will improve the mobility of our entire community. This especially true with our ever increasing population. We cannot stop inevitable growth since more people are finding here to be the best place in the world. More and more rich outsiders are coming here and driving up the cost of housing. We need to maintain the high quality of life for our average locals and kamaainas who already live here. Rail will give people who live far on the more affordable west side to have the alternative of a more convenient and fast train ride for their commute. Rail will relieve traffic for people who need their car when other drivers take the train. Rail will help many people who live in the Kakaako/Ala Moana area who are saving by giving up their car to pay for higher housing costs. Rail as planned will get people to work, school, shopping, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist areas. Rail and transit oriented development will sustain our economy far into our future. Stopping rail at Middle Street will take away many benefits of rail.

        • Have you no shame, UB and weeliki? You should quit whatever lousy job keeps you spouting those ridiculous lies. Whatever they’re paying you, it’s not enough. Have some self respect and get a real job.

          Shame, shame, shame, shame….!

        • I thought they were supposed to bike. That’s why were literally building bike lanes on every street and roadway, interfering with driving and parking.

        • wiliki – Uhhhh where have you been? Clearly lost. Nei already has urban sprawl, it will only get worse even with rail.

        • uku – There you go again with your stepfather’s (Grabby Boy) shibai posts. Nothing but verbose comments, totally off base, no clue as to the real issues.

          Rail, from day one, was sold on a pack of lies, getting worse every day. Will only support a very narrow strip around it, no help at all to the residents living elsewhere.

          Rail does not go to any of the main tourist venues, never in the plans, not going to happen. Shopping? Only if you can carry it in your hands. Not going to Costco for shopping via rail.

          Our children and grandchildren will forever ask how their parents were so gullible to fall for the false siren song of rail. Sticking them with a lifetime of higher taxes to subsidize money pit rail. What were they thinking?

    • The hideous area is way overbuilt and a major recession is coming. Rail has nothing to do with it. The overbuilt area with its sewer stench and filth will hurt owners for years.

      • and the rising tides/oceans will make Kakaako a big duck pond and marsh by 2100…and the sewer and waste water discharge lines will back up sooner… Da City will need to come clean and let folks know that Kakaako, Waikiki, Ala Moana Center and all low lying areas filled with development are in for a bad nightmare…and Howard Hughes and da other developers will have lots of explaining to do….probably no disclosure in the sales pitch or sales docs… business as usual..developers quietly slipping out in the middle of the night…easy to go back to the mainland for most developers..

  • Good. We don’t need any more overdevelopment of that area.

    And if those developers are so worked up about it, they can give the city the funding needed to get it from Aloha Stadium to Ala Moana and pay for the operation and maintenance along the route.

    • Thats the way it should be. Public should not subsidize westsiders to shop at Ala Moana. They have their own shops and jobs over there. But developers and other interests will not fund the project because they already see what a complete joke HART is. They would be on the books for never ending increasing funding. Kakaako people dont need rail now nor do they need it in the future. At least you know which real estate companies are advocates for poor growth planning and development.

        • We subsidize your job. Be thankful. And yes rail isnt going to help traffic congestion but it will certainly increase it tenfold. Thanks for pointing that out.

        • wiliki – There you go again repeating lies about rail. It was never intended to ease traffic congestion. Doesn’t serve enough busy areas, can’t carry enough people to really make a difference.

          Just another union sponsored union money pit.

  • “Honolulu’s forthcoming light rail system will directly connect Ward Village to destinations including downtown Honolulu and Waikiki,” says a display at the Ward Village sales center.”

    Shocking news! Developers are spinning lies again. It’s not light rail and it doesn’t “directly connect” to Waikiki. I wonder what other claims Ward Village sales is making.

    If these developers want a train to take their buyers to the mall and Waikiki, they should pay for it themselves instead of crying that they can’t squeeze any more than 7 billion dollars from local families.

  • Rest my case. An outright admission it was about condo and home building development, and not solving the West Oahu traffic snarl that brought on and guided the toy choo-choo from its original UH Manoa destination to the Ala Moana Center / Kakaako luxury condo enclave. And of course, the fact that the rail starts at a tract of land intended for home and condo development doesn’t hurt the developers and contractors at all either.

    What it is called is building purchase incentives using taxpayers’ money, nothing more, nothing less. Shame one the developers who contributed to cladwell the naked emperor’s warchest to achieve this end — making hand over fist on the gullible taxpayers and equally greedy and gullible mayor, council, guv, and legislature. For the taxpayers’ and poor people out west? Yeah, sure. Just more BS, waha, shibai, and chutzpah.

    • Thank you for pointing this out! Finally admission that The Rail was to enhance Kakaako development and “not to alleviate the traffic from East Oahu.” Think about who benefits developers (who will attempt to buy back in), construction industry who benefits from The Rail and development. But wait those who like in Kakaako can use The Rail as their own personal shuttle downtown (?). Well take The Bus or how about a cab or how about having these developments provide a shuttle service…come on think bruddah…think! I presume no can…:)

      • Catching a cab to downtown according to TaxiFareFinder is $15.47. How much will it cost to catch the rail to downtown from Kakaako?? I bet it will be cheaper to catch a cab.

        • Light RAIL (huh) 8 foot columns to support a GIANT STEEL ON STEEL SCREECHING SYSTEM THAT AT TIMES IS OVER 75 FEET HIGH IS CALLED NOT LIGHT (DUH wiliki) go look at it!!!!! your making yourself look even worse than you are wee wiliki.

      • Nope, Rail insures development stays within the urban core. An effect of no rail is traffic in the westside (immediate) and eventually urban sprawl all over the island (long term).

        • What are you talking about? Rail is going to whack out the west side with development and it will then move north.

        • Weewee then it should have started in town you weak minded self proclaimed rail kupuna.

        • That’s complete gibberish.

          Bo Ho’opili and Koa Ridge have been approved for sprawling development.

  • So laughable how these very weak of mind, clueless, incompetent, make a buck realtors fell all over themselves for the false siren song of rail. Now they are whining to mother like red headed step children who dropped their ice cream. “Mommy!!! The bad people took away our choo choo. Make them give it back.”

    Welcome to the little 8th world of Hawaii Nei. Now time to wipe your noses and grow up. Deal with the backwards Nei as we do.

    • The Realtors are not crying, why did you just attack them? They made their commissions already, it’s the buyers who are upset. You have no sympathy to share….only vitriol!

      • Flipping…but then probably not come on coordinate efforts amongst the projects and have a shuttle set up…or even a project specific shuttle. Then you got to get the AOAO Board of Directors involved and then the real fun begins…keep in mind HMO’s and AOAO’s, Property Management are non-regulated. Do your own research on the establishment of the Office of Condominium Ombudsman. While I normally do not support government bureaucracy…this needs to be done to regulate the aforementioned BTW…I served on several BOD’s and can attest we need some DCCA / RICO enforcement…it will get worst. $$$$ and potential litigation….

  • Star Ad Editor: Tell us, is this a paid political – i mean – personal announcement? Is the writer on staff? Is this not business section? I read this and thought, it is not news, it’s opinion. So can i get a pr writer to craft up something timely and punchy, submit and get my name in the paper? Too? And say something like I’m a top-rated blogger?

      • My thought exactly… and the reason to pay them is obvious – they won’t wander all over the place, take a little someting from Facebook, add another couple personal observations, and then end up with a vapid statement about vision. No, a real reporter would do the “what, when, how, who and why” look for real evidence, interview experts, get oposing points of view, etc. This aint journalism

    • Song is a realtor with a monetary stake in the outcome. He also used to write for the Star Bull before becoming AP’s top man in Hawaii, which the ethic-less SA failed to mention (the news writer part).

  • Seriously, Star Advertiser, this is a dumb article. Not even article, opinion. At best a letter to the editor. Read this slowly and then think. How many home buyers went looking for homes and said it’s got to be on the rail. I can only buy a home on the rail. Nevermind about price, financing, view, parking, walkability, swimming pool, storage… and so on. The buyers of condos planned for Kakaako are not going to cancel their sale, and wait for something to go up on Middle Street.

  • No rail would save taxpayers over $10,000,000,000! We could do lots to our broken water mains, cracking sewer lines, potholes everywhere, maybe even improve our third world airport with the ancient wiki wiki cars. Our schools and universities could also be improved rather than the black hole of rail that nobod knows what will cost or what it will cost to maintain The people of Honolulu were taken to the cleaners.

    • You said it, mcc. Imagine what else could be built with that $$$. We could have the construction jobs, traffic relief and so much more.

      We could fix UH crumbling campus and make it shine, with affordable dorms to reduce commuting for $1 billion.

      We could do the same for west side public schools, so parents could save the daily commute to private schools and the $20k each year.

      We could afford to beef up West side health care, so folks have better access to care, including advanced treatments, and good jobs closer to home.

      We could expand our fleet of buses, with highway smart-lanes reserved for them when needed.

      We could increase food security and Ag jobs by supporting agriculture on the west side. Maybe move UH Ag College to UH West Oahu.

      We could have all this for less that the $10 billion cost of rail. Families could have more income, better healthcare, better public shools, a better university, a stronger farming sector, and less traffic.

  • Oahu taxpayers lost the minute they decided to vote for rail. Regardless of the options we have at this point, it’s still going to cost us. The only people making decent money out of this are the people behind this project; PRP, White, unions, Garcia, Mufi, Kirk, DOT insiders. The rest of us will have to suffer the consequences of being so gullible and uninformed. Complain all you want but this is a done deal.

    • Nobody got to vote for or against rail. We got to choose what kind of rail they were going to build. They had already decided there would be rail in Honolulu.

  • Kakaako has issues that need to be addressed before any rail system can be built there. Too many private owned streets, sewer problems and the homeless. Building rail platforms will be a challenge.

  • Mr. Song believes those who bought into Kakaako are being left out in the cold—how pathetic! Maintenance fees are probably running about $2500 per month and missing out on Rail is an issue with these tenants. does Mr. Song have any leftover compassion for the West Oahu commuters?

  • Why is rail needed for TOD? Can’t you build dense, have decent bus service, and limit parking and get the same result?

    Disappointed buyers may want to get a laawyer.

  • “Will a shorter rail route would hurt Kakaako development?” Or will an editor would proofread a headline before publication? Or will a newspaper would publish opinions in the opinion section? Looking like amateurs, SA.

  • A more important question is will the rail take more money from the tax payers than they are wiling to pay? This whole ride has been a sucker play and I’m tired of not being told the truth.

  • Flip-flop Caldwell will have this entire island looking like Hong Kong to repay all his developer and donor friends. Bought and paid for, that’s for sure.

    • Ending rail at Middle St or AMC makes no difference; most commuters still have to catch another bus to their final destinations.

      The incompetent rail building must stop now because the project has insufficient funds.

      “HART hasn’t yet issued the two big contracts to complete rail’s final 10 miles”.

      The first 10 miles ends at Aloha Stadium.

      The practical and best option is to convert the rail guide way to a 2-lane HOV(2) Reversible freeway from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium for less than $4 Billion already collected via GET. Tampa has built a Reversible Express Lane for $42 million per mile in year 2006, see The Tampa elevated structure is built similar to the Oahu Rail guide way.

      • hybrid1 – Give up on your shibai concept of a 2-lane HOV lane for rail. Not going to happen just like maglev will never be used on this rail project.

        You fail to say where you would dump all the cars using it onto the surface streets. Any connection to H1 would cause a massive backup as the cars could not exit fast enough. (Didn’t think of this did you?)

        You also failed to provide credible references to show rail’s sound walls are strong enough to take the impact of a 40-50k lb bus traveling at 45-60 mph. Containing it on the elevated roadway. (Wonder why)

        Time to let go of the 2-lane HOV concept for rail’s guideway. Never going to happen. Let it go. Move on.

  • I would agree that ending the rail at Aloha Stadium would be best. As far as development in Kakaako it is doubtful that it would be affected very little if the rail project is ended.
    The rail project was part of a selling point and way for developers to demand top dollar but the development was going to happen anyway and will continue irregardless.

  • Developers like Howard Hughes take risks. In this case they bet on rail before any contractor had bid on the project in their area. When the new sales center opened in the old IBM building for the Hughes Corporation, they had a beautiful model of the planned developments. They had rail on the wrong street in the model. An indication they are not paying that much attention to rail.

  • So WE the taxpayers are helping the developers with OUR OWN money ? This city is so messed up, its ABSURD. Fix the ROADS and synch the darn lights. The DOT is a COMPLETE JOKE !!!!

  • Honolulu’s Rail project is NOT a Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will NOT come”. Ending the rail in the middle of no where (Middle Street) is a far cry from the original plan that everyone voted for when the plan was first presented. Are these developers willing to share some the cost to complete it? Did anyone ask?

  • A rail system that doesn’t at least fo downtown is a failed system and not serving its intended purpose of transporting commuters. What a waste.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up