Honolulu Civil Beat
By Blaze Lovell
October 12, 2021
The state is moving ahead with a plan to redevelop the parking lot surrounding Aloha Stadium in an effort to turn the site into a vibrant residential and entertainment district over the next several decades.
Work is expected to begin late next year. The 46-year-old stadium is also expected to be demolished next year to make way for a new, 35,000-seat stadium that would be the centerpiece of what is now called the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District.
The redevelopment project is being handled on two separate tracks. On one track, three teams are competing to win a contract to rebuild Aloha Stadium. On a separate track, which kicked off Tuesday, more teams of developers will be vying for a contract to redevelop the 73-acre site surrounding the new stadium.
Once the site is redeveloped and the stadium is operating, the entire project is expected to generate $1.4 billion in economic output and an additional $27 million in annual tax revenue for the state.
On Tuesday, state officials released a set of solicitation documents to get the ball rolling on the real estate portion of the development. The Request for Proposals released Tuesday will require applicants to create a preliminary master plan for the 73-acre site, something that’s “over and above” typical construction solicitations, according to David Harris, the NASED project director.
Project teams will also be evaluated based on their project understanding, team structure, experience financial capacity and financial plans.
A “Master Development Partner” will lead development on the real estate site and lease lands to generate revenue for the state. The real estate development will be key to the stadium site’s success, state officials have said. Exact details on what revenue the state and developers would get to keep or how they would share costs would be worked out at a later date.
The Legislature has put $170 million in bonds toward the stadium and real estate projects. It’s about half of the $350 million previously set aside for stadium redevelopment.
The new stadium is expected to cost more than $400 million, and the stadium developer will be expected to handle any costs not picked up by the state.
However, there’s no estimated cost for how much the redevelopment of the entire site could ultimately cost taxpayers.
State Public Works Administrator Chris Kinimaka said during a news conference Tuesday there are no set targets that applicants will be expected to spend on things like infrastructure.
“We have modeling to see what we anticipate the market can bear,” she said. “This is our litmus test to hear directly from the industry on what that capacity is.”
There are also no set plans for what exactly the real estate site should look like. But the state already has some ideas.
Project officials envisioned a mixed-use development with space for hotels, retail and housing. Instead of a giant parking lot, parking structures for those buildings would dot the area instead.
Concept drawings depict sleek hotels alongside condominiums and wide park areas where the stadium sits now. Stores and restaurants would greet passengers disembarking from the Honolulu Rail, which has a station near the stadium on Kamehameha Highway.
“These are just indicative renderings of a flavor, an idea of what we’d like to see,” James Pastine, an associate at Crawford Architects, said.
The responses to the RFP will be judged by a team of state officials. And the lead developer is expected to be selected in 2022.
Kinimaka told reporters Tuesday that the state still does not want to set a timeline for when the stadium could be completed, though she said it definitely won’t be open in 2023.
That had been the initial target date for the stadium opening to coincide with the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior football team’s home opener that year.
But the stadium was plagued with delays in funding and policy changes at the Legislature. And UH has since set up a 9,000-seat stadium at its Manoa campus. UH Athletic Director Dave Matlin has plans to add more bleachers to raise the seating capacity to 15,000 for the 2022 season.
Kinimaka said that UH’s plans had no effect on the timeline the stadium is pursuing or the delays that caused it to push construction back.
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