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Hawaii’s favorite boatyard to be replaced this year

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

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

Only one of two RFPs that were received by the department was deemed worthy of consideration and at last report the DLNR and the developer were 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.

Today, over four years later, 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.”

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.

Understandably perhaps, 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.

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