Kewalo Basin part of Kakaako redevelopment plans

The Howard Hughes Corporation has big plans to turn Kewalo Basin into a visitor and local attraction.

Those who use the little harbor say that would be a welcome change.

It is one of the gems of the Honolulu waterfront, but right now, it’s a diamond in the rough. Howard Hughes Corporation, a real estate development and management company that’s been a major player in the plans to redevelop Kakaako, has made a bid to take over operation of Kewalo Basin.

“We’ve spent a number of years on this,” said Anthony Ching, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. “An environmental impact statement has been conducted for the harbor repair project. At this point, we’re going to be spending a bit of time and probably no more than two weeks to insure that some of the general terms and conditions are abundantly clear to both parties.”

That means having all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted, but Ching says the matter should be settled shortly.

“Before this (Tuesday public) meeting, we had a stakeholders meeting because we have a regular group that’s convened, and so we believe there has been extensive and continuing discussion on this matter.”

Kewalo Basin is an active boat harbor, but over the years, some of the piers have fallen into disrepair. Some of the skippers said they’d be happy to pay higher boat slip fees, if the piers are fixed.

“Definitely,” said “Captain Crash” of Aukai Catamarans. “It’s been like this for years and years and years, and the previous corporation that ran the place, they wanted to raise the rates, and I think they did, but there’s no improvements.”

Dock B at Kewalo is in obvious need of repair. Skippers realize that slip fees may be increased because of the repair work, but they say some of that cost may be passed on to charter passengers.

The Howard Hughes Corporation has a vested interest in making Kewalo Basin an attractive venue because it’s steps away from its Waiea luxury condo development planned just across Ala Moana Blvd.

“We appreciate the opportunity,” said corporation spokesman Race Randle. “We look forward to making Kewalo a fantastic place for families to gather, for people to recreate and for businesses to succeed.”

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