Long vacant and woefully underutilized, the old Stadium Bowl-O-Drome property in Moiliili appears on its way, finally, to a useful future. Thanks to newly adopted rules, landowner Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) can now proceed on a long-discussed multifamily rental apartment complex on the 1.9-acre site.
DHHL has issued a request for proposals for a developer to operate, for up to 65 years, a project envisioned with rental housing to be partly subsidized by revenue from retail or commercial space on the ground floor.
The holdup over the past couple of years has been awaiting approval of amended rules allowing DHHL to provide rental housing to beneficiaries; the traditional model is the awarding of lot leases. The rule-making process involved beneficiary consultations and meetings — culminating with the governor’s signature on Sept. 30.
The fervent hope is that this new option will help make headway against an unconscionably lengthy waitlist — estimated at over 28,000 — of DHHL homestead beneficiaries, those with at least 50% Hawaiian blood. Building multifamily units for rent to those wanting them, rather than a homestead lot, should help pare the waitlist, especially for the many beneficiaries who can’t qualify for mortgages.
But there are skeptics, such as Robin Danner, chairwoman of the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly: “These rules set up the same bureaucracy, the same political patronage that DHHL has fed off of for 6 decades. … These rules are a false hope, an empty promise, that will lead to the same dead-end canyon of a poorly run state agency, trying to be all things.”
It’s now up to DHHL to do this project well and prove the skeptics wrong.