Hawaii News Legal dispute between Navy, developer drags on at Kalaeloa By William Cole firstname.lastname@example.org June 20, 2020 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! STAR-ADVERTISER / 2012 A monument stands at Kalaeloa, which was once Barbers Naval Air Station. A running five-year dispute between Hunt Companies and the Navy with roots in a 2003 redevelopment agreement on Ford Island has the developer claiming in a lawsuit that it lost more than $150 million. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. A running five-year dispute between Hunt Companies and the Navy with roots in a 2003 redevelopment agreement on Ford Island has the developer claiming in a lawsuit that it lost more than $150 million due to the Navy’s failure to live up to land and utility deals at the former Naval Air Station Barbers Point. Kalaeloa Ventures, a Hunt affiliate, in 2016 filed several complaints with the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals for the alleged breach. The relationship that saw Hunt aid the Navy on Ford Island went south legally years later over Navy delays and problems in transferring title to certain parcels of land at what is now known as Kalaeloa, according to case filings. Hunt was to get 495 acres at Kalaeloa, first in lease and then fee simple title, which it planned to transform into commercial and residential uses. In 2011 title to 10 acres was conveyed to Hunt for the local FBI headquarters, the Navy said. Some other redevelopment also has moved forward. On part of the Hunt land, historic designation for the weedy and obscure Marine Corps Air Station Ewa — a key Dec. 7, 1941, battlefield — grew over time from what Hunt believed would be 5 acres at the intersection of two old runways to the eventual listing of about 180 acres on the National Register of Historic Places. The Navy now is caught in a tug-of-war between a developer eyeing reuse of Ewa Field land — which is among Hunt’s nearly 20 parcels — and preservationists who want to honor and set aside the battlefield’s history. An Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals judge in December refused to grant pretrial summary judgment to either party, and the case continues unresolved. “One of the main reasons we are here is because the Navy did not make the requested (land) transfers within the requested time period and, time being money in the real estate development world, the considerable — on the order of four years — delay in the transfer allegedly significantly damaged Kalaeloa (Ventures),” Administrative Judge J. Reid Prouty wrote in a December decision. Hunt/Kalaeloa Ventures also “lost the use of a substantial portion of the property” to the Ewa Field historic listing and has “complaints regarding the nonexistence of a utilities transition plan,” Prouty said. Hunt in 2013 asked the Navy to transfer title to about 17 parcels and then marketed some for sale. Six were conveyed in October 2017 and most of the rest were shifted to Hunt that December, according to contract appeals documents. With the delay, the Hunt-affiliated group said it was unable to proceed with the sale. “The Navy had its own reasons for the more than three-year delay,” Prouty wrote. New environmental condition and historic preservation reports had to be completed. In 2014 the Navy recommended that 81 acres of Ewa Field, which exists mainly on Hunt and city-designated land, be subject to listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Prouty’s opinion states. However, the National Park Service, which oversees the designation, determined that 180 acres of preservation was more appropriate, and the Navy submitted a formal nomination for that total, Prouty said. Hunt, in its complaint, said it thought it was getting 495 acres of “largely vacant and abandoned” Navy land at the former Barbers Point. One parcel where Ewa Field is located was slated for 1.5 million square feet of commercial space. That project was no longer being pursued, Hunt said. Hunt claims that early in the process, the Navy represented that the only site eligible for National Register listing was a much smaller section of the 1941 runways. The developer said 144 acres of the National Register-designated 180 acres are on its land. Hunt claimed a loss of more than $28 million due to the larger historic nomination, according to Prouty’s opinion. However, Hunt’s land agreement with the Navy stated that if any site features are or become eligible for historic listing, they may require consideration under the National Historic Preservation Act. Both the Navy and Hunt declined to comment on the litigation. Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals judges have the ability to issue monetary awards. Prouty, the contract appeals judge, also noted the Navy and Hunt were required to jointly create a utilities transition plan by 2011 or 2012. In its complaint, Hunt said projected development of its land would require improvements to the Navy- owned utility system at Kalaeloa. “The Navy failed to take timely action to develop and implement a utility transition plan allowing for development of the property,” Hunt said. The failure “slowed the development of multiple parcels dramatically,” according to the claim. The case filing says Hunt claimed $42.5 million in damages through October 2014, with an accrual of $14.2 million in lost income each year after. But Prouty said the evidence before the board “is limited, to say the least,” and Hunt “has provided no evidence of efforts that it undertook to do its part in creating a mutually acceptable utility transition plan.” The Barbers Point land deal grew out of 2003 special federal legislation through which Hunt made $84 million in utilities upgrades on Ford Island in exchange for over 1,000 acres on Ford Island and at Waikele Naval Magazine and Halawa Landing, along with more than 2,000 homes at Iroquois Point and Barbers Point. As part of the deal, Fluor Hawaii, which included Hunt, was given a leasehold interest in about 40 acres on Ford Island for housing and commercial space. The Navy later asked for and received the land back on the active Navy base in exchange for the 495 additional acres at Barbers Point. Steve Colon, Hunt’s president of development for the Hawaii region, said, “We are working collaboratively” with the Navy, Hawaiian Electric Co., the U.S. Coast Guard and others on an electrical infrastructure transition plan at Kalaeloa. “We have taken fee-simple title to over half the land that we had been leasing in Kalaeloa and hope to get fee-simple title to the rest within the next year,” he said last month. Hunt said on a website that Kalaeloa will eventually be home to several hundred new businesses, 5,000 additional jobs and about 3,000 more homes. Previous Story On the Move: Hunt’s Hawaii Development Region Next Story David Shapiro: Can’t we find bigger things than face masks to fight over?