Hawaii legislature readies passage of redevelopment bill

HILO, Hawaii — A proposal that would create a redevelopment district for Hilo is headed for a vote in the state Legislature.

The “Hilo community economic district,” under the pilot program, would include the Kanoelehua Industrial Area as far inland as Makaala Street, the Waiakea Peninsula, Wailoa River State Recreation Area, the bayfront ball fields and along Kalanianaole Avenue to Hilo Harbor, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .

It applies only to state land.

The measure would allow tenants within the district to extend their leases for up to 40 years if they make substantial improvements.

The bill also would allow for a tenant, who has less than 10 years left on a lease, to start a “request for interest” process to see if other parties are interested in the land before a new lease is issued.

Democratic Sen. Kai Kahele, who sponsored the bill, called it a “home run for Hilo.”

“It’s going to incentivize current lessees and future lessees and start to revitalize and rehabilitate what you see today,” he said. “You drive around the industrial area you see dilapidated facades, you see facades falling down.”

State law caps public land leases at 65 years, but this bill would allow existing leases within the district to last up to 95 years in total, if tenants’ plans are approved by the state Land Board.

Businesses will have to invest equal to 30 percent of the property’s market value in order to qualify for the extension, Kahele said. Otherwise, the property and improvements revert back to the state for public auction.

The measure must pass the Legislature and be signed by Gov. David Ige to become law.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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