Developer claims Hawaii Pacific University lied about intentions
"They just stole this project from us. It's called fraud," said attorney Michael Green, who is representing developer Ed Bushor who still holds a 20-percent stake in Aloha Tower Marketplace.
That claim threw a big wrench into hopes the state's Aloha Tower Redevelopment Corporation would finally give its consent on Thursday, allowing Hawaii Pacific University to begin redeveloping the marketplace.
Green said his client never wanted to be bought out by HPU, or bumped out as the marketplace's manager.
It is a claim HPU denies, saying Bushor knew, or at least should have known, that was their intention all along.
"My only comment is Mr Green is, as usual, highly entertaining. He's presented allegations, none of which he's bothered to substantiate," said attorney Alan Goda, who's representing HPU.
"The frustration is really the frustration of not being able to provide the tenants and the community and the potential tenants with the ability to move forward," said Janet Kloenhamer, who is the vice president of legal counsel for HPU.
"I have a lot riding on it as are a lot of people that have a lot riding on it," testified one businessman named Carl, who told the board on Thursday he was working with Bushor to start a sports bar at the marketplace as part of redevelopment plans.
HPU has already hired new management to handle the marketplace. His first day on the job was Thursday.
It is yet another move that has current and potential businesses at Aloha Tower nervous.
"I only have 4 months lease left," said Youfeun Lieu who owns Mag-neat-O.
"We are month to month," said Agatha Kim next door at Daniella.
"It's been a holding pattern," said Alfred Hawley, who's owned and operated a candy store at the marketplace for more than a decade.
"I think these people are out! What HPU plan is, is to make that a second campus," said Green at his Bishop Street office overlooking Aloha Tower.
Green said Bushor planned to include theaters, a recreational center, hotels, and even a place for the New Hope Church to gather.
HPU plans to add 200 student lofts, but maintains the rest will be a mix of retail and restaurants.
Whatever happens, businesses still at the marketplace are hoping they've held on for good reason.
"I know they can do a better job than what's been going on here in the past few years. It can't get any worse," said Hawley.
It gets even messier.
Green said HPU locked Bushor out of his office a few weeks ago on purpose.
HPU said it simply changed the locks when it took over management.
Green also claimed HPU engaged in "side agreements" meant to close the deal.
After a closed-door session on Thursday, ATDC general counsel Greg Kinkley announced the state would delay its decision on whether to allow HPU to move ahead with buying out Bushor and replacing him as marketplace manager until the week of Jan. 14th.
The state agreed to allow Green more time to produce evidence of any questionable "side agreements" by HPU.
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