Hawaii hui formally submits bid for presidential center

Published On: Jun 16 2014 05:45:00 PM HST

Even though the talk is of a competition for the Barack Obama presidential library, Hawaii's hui has been straight up and it's really not about a library.

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"Storing stuff? Hawaii is not a place you want to store lots of stuff," said University of Hawaii’s interim president David Lassner.

The university, along with the state’s shakers and movers, have put close to a half a million behind a proposal to be a partner in the mix.

"We have one shot at it. We have one opportunity," said Lt Gov. Shan Tsutsui, whose office is overseeing the bid.

The focus is using the location, which could some see as a negative into a positive.

Can the 8-acre waterfront spot become a model for global warning and coastal management, using cutting edge technology and planning working with the wind, sun and sea?

For more than a year now, it has been all about priming this spot in Kaka'ako.

The conceptual plan includes how the center could dovetail into Kaka'ako, the third city, complete with think tank and a magnet for education and advocacy.

The website that rolled out today includes a video narrated by actor Daniel Dae Kim that showcases the bid sent in to the Obama Foundation.

"The location has the prominence to feature postcard architecture and with the right design and the grandeur to inspire transformational work.  The Kaka'ako district is in motion easily accessible by car, and soon by rail," Dae Kim said. 

"We don’t pre-select an architect. The way this works is we suggest the location and program list and they can come back and work with us and that’s  one thing a two-step process allows," said Lassner.

Lassner expects decision makers will make a site visit before the final nod is given in 2015.

It's a gamble, but the payoff could be big.

"In the long run when you look at the potential, the economic impact what it could mean as a as an economic driver. Those numbers are just tremendous," said Lt. Gov. Tsutsui.

The shores of the Asia-Pacific region are just calling out for the chance to tell the story of an island son, an island president.

At least three other cities are vying for the presidential center.

Hawaii is hoping to partner with one of the other major players for a piece of the action. New York and Chicago are two other locations that are being proposed as potential sits.

Tsutusi said  that in January, a University of Chicago official toured the Kakaako site in an effort to understand what the Hawaii plan entails.

The Obama Foundation will have the task of fundraising.

The conceptual plans submitted Monday are expected to be followed up with a formal plan later this summer.

John F

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