Longtime charter fishing boats who dock at Kewalo Basin have known for some time change is coming to the sleepy harbor.
That change could be soon.
A proposed master plan calls for adding 100 more slips with upgraded docks and facilities
The facelift is to come with a hike in fees which for some boats is about $700 a month.
"When you are faced with double the rent, it’s a big factor with us. So yeah, we are afraid," said Mike DeRego of Maggie Jo’s fishing charter business.
The harbor is currently managed by Almar.
On Wednesday, Almar went before the Hawaii Community Development Authority and touted its expertise.
"Everything we do is geared toward boating," said Almar principal Tom Hogan.
It also emphasized the long list of marina redesign projects it's managing.
"We are the premier marina company in the country" we have 17 marinas where we either own or operate, “ added Almar’s Jim Hayes.
Almar envisioned turning the old warehouses on the makai end of the harbor into a facility to store boats 35 feet and smaller--- complete with valet service which would be a first for Hawaii.
But Howard Hughes Corporation pitched its interest in the 60 acres across the street,
its willingness to listen to stakeholders, and its deep pockets.
"We have the financial capability to do it immediately, with no lenders no partners,' said David Striph, senior vice-president of Howard Hughes Corporation.
The company emphasized it wants to keep Kewalo Basin as a working commercial harbor and to emphasize its history as a draw.
"Where we can really help is the branding and marketing. That is not happening. We can really support the fishermen and the charter guys," said Striph.
Lately, luxury super yachts like this one owned by billionaire Larry Ellison have been turning heads as they dock in the available dock space.
But boaters wonder about their long-term future now that Howard Hughes has begun building the first of what could be 22 high-rises as part of the Ward Village development.
"It's very impressive to have a condo and a boat down there but where does that leave us down the road," said DeRego.
The board sided with Howard Hughes Corporation, giving it first dibs on negotiating a long-term lease.