Proposed Kakaako Project Raises Concerns

A new high rise is planned for Waimanu Street in Kakaako.

Photo: treena shapiro

A plan to build more workforce housing in Kakaako has come under fire by area residents who worry about the impact on their views and traffic.

The proposed development at 803 Waimanu would replace old warehouses with a high-rise comprised of 192 affordable units, 245 parking spaces and ground-floor commercial space. It would sit adjacent to the Imperial Plaza.

The construction would add new workforce housing to an area that has seen several new luxury condos open over the past few years. It ties into state plans to increase density in the urban core, putting homes near offices and creating pedestrian-friendly communities that reduce reliance on cars.

But at yesterday's public hearing before the Hawaii Community Development Authority, nearby residents voiced concerns that the project will create more traffic on the already-congested Kapiolani Boulevard. Some also worried that the new high-rise will block the breeze, along with their views. Others objected to putting a high-rise so close to the existing Imperial Plaza tower, a move that will require an exemption to height limits.

The fate of the proposal lies with HCDA, which held a public hearing on the building yesterday. The panel was urged by community members and state legislators to take more time to hear from the public and answer questions about the project, including whether the existing infrastructure would support the new building and why so many exceptions would have to be made to erect it.

The seven state legislators and city councilmembers who submitted joint-testimony noted that this is the first proposal that would put a new high-rise directly adjacent to another. "We share residents' concerns regarding the impact of this project, especially since this decision will set a precedent for the consideration of future projects," they wrote.

HCDA postponed decision-making until July 3 to give the public more time to learn about the project and offer comment.

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