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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
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A new plan put forth by the Hawaii Community Development Authority proposes a transit-oriented mega-development of up to 3 700 ft. towers and additional towers having raised height limits to 550 ft. in an area of Kakaako around the aging Neal Blaisdell Center Arena. With approval still pending, there may be a series of changes to the plan which is embraced by the Mayor of Honolulu.

Agency’s plan would rebuild Blaisdell complex

Kakaako envisioned as a new 'downtown' filled with taller towers including The Blaisdell.

The proposal envisions residential towers and an entertainment center at the site

By Andrew Gomes
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 23, 2013

The city's aging Neal S. Blaisdell Center could be a site of one of three proposed 700-foot residential towers under a draft plan proposed by a state agency regulating development in Kakaako.

The plan would give the city the ability to let a private developer build such a tower in return for replacing the Blaisdell with new public concert and event facilities There could even be a business hotel, a multi-plex cinema and a large park on the Blaisdell site, along with new performing arts facilities, parking and the high-rise, the plan suggests.

The draft plan is being proposed by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency regulating development in Kakaako, and aims to allow higher-density development in areas largely concentrated around two city rail stations slated for Kakaako.

The authority released a summary of the plan on May 10, unveiling broad strokes of the proposed draft rules -- including raising tower height limits to 550 feet from 400 feet in some areas, plus authorizing three towers up to 700 feet. The site for one of those towers -- the Blaisdell -- is described in the full 206-page draft, a copy of which was released Wednesday.

This is a perfect opportunity -- should the city take it, said Anthony Ching, the development authority's executive director. A representative of Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who represents Kakaako, said she's open to a private-public partnership redeveloping the Blaisdell with new public facilities. That's probably the only way to get funding, she said. But Kobayashi added that any redevelopment should fit the neighborhood. "It's hard to envision a 700-foot tower next to McKinley High School."

Sites for the other two envisioned 700-foot towers would be near the city's two planned rail stations, but are not more precisely specified.


Honolulu mayor open to skyscraper at Blaisdell Center

The aging Blaisdell Center presents an opportunity.

City considering a redo for aging cultural facilities

UPDATED 7:25 AM HST May 24, 2013

HONOLULU —Honolulu's mayor recalls coming to his first concert at the Blaisdell to see Jimi Hendrix. “I remember going into the arena and it was like a spaceship, and I was like wow, this is amazing,” said Kirk Caldwell.

But that was a long time ago.

The Blaisdell Center is about 50 years old and it’s already been renovated once. In fact the city has been weighing its future and the mayor has put money in the budget for a master plan. "We are looking at how we can make better use of this site. This is our cultural and arts district," the mayor said.

The new transit development plans for Kaka'ako offer the carrot of a 700-foot-high skyscraper, provided the public gets some benefit. "In an area where density makes sense we will allow them to utilitze that density by going higher to which they will provide for benefits we do not have, or for things they can help pay for,”said Tony Ching, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. "I would love to see this site redeveloped so we can right size it for a symphony and also have a separate place for Broadway plays, so we are not competing with each other, and of course a new arena with dressing rooms for the first-rate acts coming into town," the mayor said.

But some community watchdog groups aren't convinced a super tower is the right way to do it. It was only last year the state proposed 690 Pohukaina -- the state high-rise that would be allowed to exceed the 400-foot height limit by 250 feet.

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