Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year renting office space in downtown Honolulu.
Meanwhile, a state building has been sitting empty for more than a decade.
Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building sits next to Iolani Palace, near the State Capitol.
It was originally emptied out in 2003 and some work was done then, but it wasn’t until March of last year that construction crews came back in to give it another go.
“It’s not taking very long to renovate. It’s just a big gap where we didn’t do any work in the building. There was no funding,” said state comptroller Douglass Murdock.
Now, Murdock says, crews “are in the initial stages of putting in the plumbing, and the electrical and things like that, so once they are done with that, they will start to put in the walls and the flooring and the new ceiling and tile.”
The building is 60,000 square feet, but Murdock says the state still needs another 300,000 square feet of office space.
“We are looking at options in the downtown area,” he said.
The total cost for the project is $26 million. It will save taxpayers $2 million in rent once state employees move out of rented space and into the state-owned building.
Sen. Sam Slom says the state is spending too much money on office space.
“It’s like so many other projects, it’s overdue, it’s overbudget,” he said. “I’d like to see it finished. I’d like to see it occupied, so then we can check the figures if we are going to save any money by moving people from different buildings.”
The state says it expects to have workers back in the office building by the fall, between October and December.
“Everything was taken out of the building that wasn’t structural, so all that are left are the beams and the floors and the ceilings and we are going in and putting in everything new,” Slom said.
The Department of Health and the Department of Human Services are expected to move into the building.
The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, which used to have its offices in the building, says it has no plans on moving from its current location.