HCDA will not compromise with OHA on their plans for Kewalo Basin, even though OHA is a major stakeholder (HCDA PART 2)

On March 1, 2009, the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) assumed the management of the Kewalo Basin Harbor from the Department of Transportation and hired ALMAR Management, Inc. (a California-based marina operator), to oversee day to day harbor operations.

On June 7, 2012, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that HCDA agreed to lease the 143-slip harbor in Kakaako for 50 years to Almar Management Inc. and a partner doing business as KB Marina LP.  The Almar partnership would finance $22 million in repair work to replace all piers and docks and would increase boats slips from 143 to 243.

Almar anticipates the upgrades taking five years to complete and would pay HCDA about $45 million in rent over 50 years.  Is this what the State considers a fair price?  These are ceded lands and OHA beneficiaries & state stakeholders will end up losing out.  Who is benefiting from this deal?

As I mentioned in my last column, OHA received a letter from HCDA on August 6, 2013, stating HCDA will not compromise with OHA on their plans for Kewalo Basin, even though OHA is a major stakeholder.

The HCDA and their many controversial plans for Kakaako have made frequent headlines in the media lately, but most of us are in the dark about what exactly the HCDA is and who is really in charge.


The 1976 State Legislature created HCDA to revitalize urban areas that were underused and deteriorating.  The Kaka‘ako Community Development District covers 600 acres within Piikoi, King, and Punchbowl Streets and Ala Moana Boulevard, as well as the waterfront from Kewalo Basin to Forrest Avenue.  (Source: http://dbedt.hawaii.gov/hcda/about-hcda/)

HCDA is attached to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) for administrative purposes and their mission is to create “vibrant” communities within Kakaako and encourage new investment by building essential public infrastructure such as roadways, utilities, and parks that are necessary for redevelopment.


HCDA’s Kakaako Authority is composed of members from the public and private sectors.  They include:

Four “ex officio” voting members from State departments:

  1. Dean Seki, Comptroller, Accounting and General Services;
  2. Kalbert Young, Director, Budget and Finance;
  3. Richard Lim, DBEDT Director ; and
  4. Glenn Okimoto, Director, Transportation.

The Governor also appoints members from a list of names submitted by the Honolulu City Council, the Senate President and the House Speaker.

At-large member:

  1. Brian Lee, Director of Research and Communications, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Community members:

  1. Miles Kamimura, President, Pacific Property Group;
  2.  Lois Mitsunaga, CFO, Structural Engineer at Mitsunaga & Associates. INC.; and
  3. VACANT.

Cultural specialist: 

  1. VACANT.

An Executive Director serves as the CEO and is appointed by HCDA members.


What is sorely missing here is disclosure.

  • Do the members of the Authority, especially those from the private sector, have any conflicts of interest?


  • Do they represent any clients that would benefit from any development projects being considered for Kakaako or are they themselves in a position to benefit from any developments?


  • Are they contributing to any political campaigns in 2014?


  • Should HCDA have sole power over planning, zoning, and directly promoting economic development in Kakaako?

These are the questions the community should be asking this Authority.