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801 South Street tower draws largest public hearing turnout

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Oct 02 2013 04:54:00 PM HST

Hawaii Community Development Authority gets criticism from the public as it starts it goes into it's Tower 2 planning.

HONOLULU -

For the developer, it's one high-rise down, one more to go.

801 South Street's first tower already has the green light.

But its proposed "Tower Two" is right up against the historic news building - once home to the Honolulu Advertiser and Star Bulletin.

"We strongly believe the entire historically significant portion of the site needs to be integrated in the site.  If the development can’t accommodate that, then it’s in the wrong place," said Historic Hawaii Foundation Director Kiersten Faulkner.

The historic structure isn’t protected on the state or national register, so the developer wants to demolish everything except what’s under the red tile roof.

"We do have a potential buyer, Hawaiian Dredging, who plans to go in and restore the building. They are working with architect Glenn Mason, who is a very respected architect in this town," said Ryan Harada, a principal with Capital Development LLC.

But the foundation is wary because Capital Development hasn't put anything about preserving the structure in writing.

It has taken out full page ads to counter a very vocal group of area residents who have organized protests under the banner of Kaka'ako United, opposing what some see as the new Gotham City.

"The developer is trying to squeeze in another tower and an oversized parking structure," said Kaka'ako resident Ron Okamura.

Click here to see renderings and pre-demolition photos for 801 South St.

That 10-story high structure would boast almost 800 parking spaces.

Too dense, some say and not integrated into the overall design as some would like.

"It's not just about our view. It's about everybody's view," said  Kaka'ako resident Cara Kimura.

But the towers would offer something other developments don't - more reasonably priced condos.

The low maintenance fees were what drew Greg Endo to apply for a unit in the first tower which will get him to move away from mom and dad.

"I actually appreciate that there aren't a lot of amenities to this property. A lot of what Kaka'ako has to offer is right around here,” Endo said.

It turns out he will also be a downstairs neighbor to his grandparents who are looking to downsize.

If anything, it provides an interesting snapshot of prospective buyers for that second tower.

"The demand is there. The demand for “Tower B” is going to be tremendous," Harada said.

Testimony submitted to HCDA ran almost two to one in support of the project — 657 to 271.

The project will be up for a final vote on Dec. 4.

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