Hawaii Pacific University is moving ahead despite potential lawsuit
"This was a big day for the university," said Todd Simmons, vice-president of marketing for Hawaii Pacific University.
More than a year after HPU paid $14 million to manage Aloha Tower Marketplace; the state gave its unanimous consent on Monday, that Simmons said finally clears the way for them to begin redevelopment.
"We're able to move forward with planning," he said.
Businesses who talked to KITV said it has been tough over the past several years, not only because of less foot traffic, but also because of the leases, some operating only month to month.
"I can only tell you this fight has just begun," said attorney Michael Green.
Green is representing Ed Bushor, who is HPU's remaining partner in the deal, with 20 percent stake in the marketplace's development.
Last fall, the university replaced Bushor as marketplace manager and has been trying to buy him out for months, but on Friday, his attorney's gave the state 168 pages of documentation, that they said, shows HPU entered into "side agreements" to ultimately push Bushor out.
"If there is fraud in the inducement this contract is void. So, they can take any position they want to take. My hope is they have a lot of money, because we're suing them for a lot of money," said Green.
"It's not something we anticipate holding us up," said Simmons.
He said despite the cloud of a costly lawsuit, HPU is expecting to start selling bonds to raise money for demolition and redevelopment in the next month or two.
The university hopes to have completed the project by mid-2014.
The university is planning for everything from student lofts, to a sports center, to a mix of restaurants and retail.
"You don't have to stretch very far to come up with a very positive energy at that place," said Simmons.
The Aloha Tower Development Corporation said in its Monday meeting, board members have yet to see any proof HPU was involved in any questionable dealings to undermine Bushor or other partners.
Bushor has maintained he never wanted to be removed as manager or relinquish his share of the deal.
Bushor's attorney said the state should have waited until they get through arbitration or at least mediation before making any kind of decision.
Bushor and HPU are scheduled for mediation on January 28th.
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