HONOLULU — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has advanced its pledge to develop 30 acres (12 hectares) of underutilized and mostly waterfront land in the state despite pushback from the community, the Legislature and a law that prevents residential development.
The OHA Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a plan to hire a development consultant and community planner to further its goal of utilizing its land in Kakaako Makai.
The board on Thursday formed a panel designed to recommend a list of eligible development consultants, investigate land and commercial property policies and implement a request for proposal for a community planner, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
The trustees are pushing to develop the land that was given to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs by the state in 2012 to compensate for funds owed to the agency from revenue from lands in the Public Land Trust.
The Kakaako Makai properties were estimated to be worth about $200 million. The new source of revenue was intended by OHA to help fund grants and other programs designed to improve the lives of Native Hawaiians.
But, the Legislature had outlawed residential development in Kakaako Makai in 2006 after Alexander & Baldwin Inc. proposed two condominium towers that were heavily opposed, the newspaper reported.
The OHA has said it is unable to generate enough revenue from the land without building residential towers, according to the agency’s planning and financial analysis.
“Regardless of whether the Legislature grants Native Hawaiians the same ability to build residential housing on our lands as our neighbors across Ala Moana Boulevard enjoy, OHA is moving forward with developing these prime lands,” OHA’s website said. “Our intention is to submit a master plan to the Hawai’i Community Development Authority reflecting the best case scenario approved by our board of trustees.”