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Rail-oriented Kakaako development plans revealed

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: May 23 2013 09:43:07 PM HST
Updated On: May 24 2013 06:58:50 AM HST

The Kakaako skyline in Hawaii would look a lot more crowded under a development proposal designed around two rail transit stations in the area. The public got to see that controversial development proposal for the first time tonight at an open house-style meeting.

HONOLULU -

The public got its first look at massive development proposal for Kakaako on Thursday.

"It's going to destroy this island," said Kakaako resident Jan Wanso.

He was one of many people to get a first look at the Hawaii Community Development Authority's transit-oriented development plan for Kakaako.

"I think it's overwhelming," Wanso said. "The density seems to be way too much."

The brains behind the plan disagrees.

"If you start to raise the tower heights or the building heights and increase the density, that allows you an opportunity to put more emphasis on what the public benefits are on the street," said planning consultant Lee Sichter.

Benefits that include more park space and wider sidewalks, according to Sichter. His proposal includes dozens of skyscrapers with at least three reaching 700 feet. That's 300 feet higher than the city's current limit, and a height that's not sitting well with many.

"We're not talking about a lot of buildings of the same height," he said. "In fact, the whole texture of the plan allows for different height buildings."

Buildings that Sichter said won't need as many parking spaces. "With the presence of transit, it starts to take the pressure off the automobile."

But that's a concept some aren't buying.

Kakaako resident Gerald Chun said, "There's no infrastructure change. Traffic is terrible already. We're going to add all these buildings with more people, thousands of people."

Sichter said that's not true. "The state has made a profound investment in the in infrastructure over the last 30 years and we've put together a plan that articulates what the state envisions for this and now we have to evaluate it in terms of environmental impact statement to make sure that the district can handle it in terms of capacity of infrastructure."

The Hawaii Community Development Authority will be holding three more open houses at its Kakaako office.

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