It’s an ambitious plan, turning a blighted city block in the heart of Kakaako into an amusement park complete with go-cart racing, a rock wall, a skate park, a miniature golf course, a sky dive tower, and a wave machine.
Billy Balding of Alii International Enterprises, LLC envisions the park as a place where both visitors and tourists alike can unwind. He plans on investing as much as $10 million, and hopes to open by May 31.
"This will be our playground that others get to enjoy as well," said Balding. “We just want to revitalize the area, and bring a better economic outlook.”
The amusement park would encompass an area of just over three acres bordered by Ahui, Ilalo and Koula streets, as well as Ala Moana Boulevard. The site is unoccupied, but was most recently used to store vehicles for a nearby car dealership.
Balding is currently negotiating terms of a lease with land owner Kamehameha Schools, but success of the project depends largely on approval of a development permit by the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Balding held an informational briefing for HCDA board members Wednesday morning, who may grant a development permit as soon as March 7.
“There hasn't really been any opposition,” said Balding. “The best has been the fact that everybody is embracing it. They want a place to go, and to hang out and have fun."
However both the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board and the Kakaako Improvement Association have not taken a position on the proposed amusement park. If there is any concern, it would most likely focus on noise coming from gas-powered go-karts, and any increase in traffic.
Balding said the 1,200 foot go-kart track will produce the same noise levels as vehicles on nearby roads, and a traffic analysis showed volumes during peak morning and evening hours would increase by only 0.3 percent. The park would have at least 70 parking stalls, and would open seven days a week, from 9a.m. till midnight. Alcohol will be served only during special events, not on a daily basis.
“We’re all about having fun,” said Balding. “A family-oriented, safe fun area that we can all go to, and people for other states can come and realize how much fun we really have in paradise.”