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Hawaii’s favorite boatyard redevelopment not on schedule

Vacant Ala Wai Boatyard Property
Vacant Ala Wai Boatyard Property
Ray Pendleton

Once an important employer, a viable revenue producer and a valuable service provider to Honolulu’s recreational boaters, the Ala Wai Boatyard has been closed for business for nearly five and a half years.

The previous operators of the boatyard were ordered to vacate the property in the first week of January 2009. Subsequently a “Request for Proposals” from new potential operators was announced by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, which controls the property. The lease of a nearby fuel dock operation was also included in the offer.

Only one of two RFPs that were received by the department was deemed worthy of consideration and since that time the DLNR and the developer have been working together with the city’s Department of Planning to resolve zoning and environmental review issues.

The DLNR, which is responsible for the property, together with its Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, announced in September 2009 that a developer - Honey Bee USA, Inc. - had submitted the only acceptable proposal for the vacated boatyard.

One proposed structure is to be a four-story, 60-foot-high "Boatyard Building" fronting Ala Moana Boulevard offering retail 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.

Over four years after that proposal had been accepted, DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood, in response to an e-mailed question said, “We are happy to announce that the lease was finally issued in December 2013. The contractor is now in the process of starting construction.”

Fast-forward to this week – some six months later - and it is obvious to anyone passing by the property that such construction has not yet begun. A DOBOR representative could not confirm rumors of Honey Bee’s inability to attract a sufficient number of qualified tenants as one reason for the project’s delay.

The same DOBOR representative did confirm however, that Honey Bee Inc. has continued to pay the state $15,000 per month to maintain its lease.