The city is seeking input on its draft plan for transit-oriented development around the three rail stations in the Honolulu Airport area, including proposed new mixed-use communities not primarily centered on housing.
Renee Espiau, TOD lead planner, said the goal is to create employment centers in the industrial areas near the airport and Lagoon Drive stations, rather than traditional TOD proposals for housing and other services.
Most of the land near the three stations — Pearl Harbor, the airport and Lagoon Drive — is owned by the federal government and the state Department of Transportation, which operates the airport.
For more information on the draft airport TOD plan, visit honolulu.gov/tod/neighborhood-tod-plans/dpp-tod-airport.html.
Espiau said the city Department of Planning and Permitting has been working with state and federal agencies, but decisions on redevelopment would ultimately be left up to the landowners. She said the department is also working on ways to improve urban design and navigation to “create a better sense of arrival” for visitors.
“I wouldn’t say it’s challenging, but it is a little different from a lot of the other (TOD plans),” Espiau said. “The focus of the other ones has been about housing and residential communities. This one has been a little different.”
For the Pearl Harbor station, which is planned along Kamehameha Highway across from the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Makalapa Gate, the plan proposes to build low- and medium-density housing on the 5-acre Little Makalapa parcel, a former Navy housing area that is unoccupied; and on the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii property, described as sprawling and underutilized. A new park, community center and elementary school could also be developed on the NAVFAC Hawaii site.
At the airport station, TOD opportunities would mainly focus on redevelopment of commercial and industrial areas along Rodgers Boulevard and Paiea Street. The plan proposes increasing the density of industrial and commercial uses by building vertically and improving pedestrian and bicycle access around the airport. These efforts are not proposed on airport property, but rather for areas around the facility.
DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara said in an email that there will be no TOD redevelopment on airport property in part because of the facility’s “restricted-use requirements.”
At the Lagoon Drive station, the plan outlines building more densely for increased commercial and mixed-use industrial and multistory warehouses in the area, as well as long-term parking or a bus transfer point on vacant land near Ualena and Aolele streets. The plan also calls for drainage improvements to address areawide flooding.
Espiau said it might take longer for redevelopment in the airport and Lagoon Drive areas because building vertically for industrial uses is an idea still being worked on and explored.
A meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at the Aliamanu Middle School cafeteria, 3271 Salt Lake Blvd. The DPP will present the draft airport TOD plan and gather feedback to incorporate into a final proposal, which would be submitted to the Honolulu Planning Commission later this year. The commission would then make a recommendation to the City Council, which would review the plan for adoption.
The draft plan was compiled using input from community meetings and comments submitted to the city. The city has a $350,000 contract with civil engineering firm AECOM to help with planning.
Councilman Joey Manahan said the area has presented some challenges with TOD planning given that much of the land is owned by government agencies.
“I just don’t see development happening quickly, I guess, in that (airport) area,” said Manahan, who represents the area. “It’s not like other portions of transit-oriented development where you have … a large landowner who would be developing their property.”
There is potential to develop about 1,400 residential units, 540 hotel units and nearly 6.2 million square feet of commercial and industrial space in the area, according to the plan. But infrastructure improvements, including to stormwater and drainage capacity and wastewater, are estimated to cost about $122.1 million for all three station areas. Funding would likely come from a mixture of public and private investment, Espiau said.
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