Ala Wai Marine, a company that for decades offered Hawaii’s recreational boaters one of the few full service boatyards in the state, lost its lease with the state four years ago this month, and unfortunately for local and visiting boaters, the site has remained vacant ever since.
The state's Department of Land and Natural Resources, which is responsible for the property, together with its Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, announced in Sept. 2009 that a developer - Honey Bee USA, Inc. - had submitted the only acceptable proposal for the vacated boatyard.
Honey Bee had originally proposed the construction of a three-story building and to eventually operate a boatyard that would include a wedding chapel, shops, and a restaurant. Currently, however, the developer has announced more ambitious plans for the property.
One planned structure will be a four-story, 60-foot-high "Boatyard Building" fronting Ala Moana Boulevard that would offer retail space and restaurant space on the second and third floors. The fourth floor would also have restaurant space, plus office space. The first floor would be used for commercial boat ticket sales, retail kiosks and possibly an ice cream and sandwich place, the developer has said.
A new 30-foot-high, two-story wharf building would run parallel to the Ala Wai channel, which would also house restaurants and a separate two-story building will house a wedding chapel.
The question of whether sufficient space is being allocated in these plans for boat haulouts and repairs, has been a major point of contention for many harbor users considering that up until a bit more than four years ago the Ala Wai Marine boatyard had been a thriving business and an asset for boat owners state-wide.
And certainly there has always been the question of the compatibility of a wedding chapel amidst the dust and fumes of a functioning boat maintenance facility on the minds of those in the boating community.
A final point raised by many boaters came in reaction to the developer-provided artist’s rendering of the proposed project, which did not include the state’s somewhat unsightly floating trash trap adjacent to the property. If that feature were actually removed it would allow tons of debris to flow into the harbor after every rainstorm.