Last week, the Howard Hughes Corporation broke ground for its "Dynamic open green space", a central plaza on Auahi Street in Kakaako. The public park will support the entire Ward Village development, including Waiea, Anaha, and the upcoming Aeo, Gateway Towers, and Aaalii. The 1.5-acre site is slated to be complete by January 2019. It will surely be a welcome addition to the community, especially as more residents move into the area. Across the street, at Ala Moana Beach Park, the City and County of Honolulu has banned dogs, so we are grateful to hear that Howard Hughes will be providing an alternative space for Kakaako residents to enjoy the outdoors!
Read more from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, below:
Hawaii real estate developers usually hold ground- blessing and groundbreaking ceremonies for buildings that will replace open spaces. On Tuesday in Kakaako the opposite happened.
Representatives of Howard Hughes Corp. gathered on a parcel of land, housing the razed remains of warehouse buildings, and announced the start of work to turn the roughly 1.5-acre site into a great public lawn, slated to be completed in January.
Representatives of the Ward Village developer used Hawaiian digging sticks, or oo, to disturb a pulverized pile of asphalt, a move symbolic of starting work on what it envisions will be the first half of a 3-acre central public plaza. The plaza is part of the developer’s 65-acre master-planned community, which also includes up to 4,300 homes — mainly in condominium towers — plus 1 million square feet of retail space.
“We’re really going to make this come to life,” said Todd Apo, vice president of community development for the Texas-based company. “It’s really going to be something amazing.”
More elaborate elements of the plaza, such as water features, shade pavilions and walking paths, won’t be put in place for at least the next few years. Initially the 1.5-acre portion of the plaza will be a grassy area with some trees and landscaping plants. Hughes Corp. plans to use it for events — such as outdoor movies and yoga classes — that are currently held in a courtyard in the nearby IBM Building headquarters, also on Ward Village land.
The board of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which regulates development in Kakaako, had ordered Howard Hughes Corp. to complete the initial 1.5-acre portion of the plaza by January 2019 as a condition of approving what the developer expects will be its fifth tower in the area, ‘A‘ali‘i.
Howard Hughes Corp. had objected to the condition last year, saying it would be impossible to complete its grand plaza as originally designed by the deadline.
“The (deadline) is impossible to accomplish under any realistic scenario and would allow only for the demolition of buildings and the clearing of the area for temporary open space, with no features or amenities that enhance the experience for the community,” the developer said in its objection filed by attorneys with local law firm Watanabe Ing LLP. “Surely, it could not have been the intent of HCDA to obtain a central plaza that is simply a grassed area.”
HCDA’s board voted for the condition in part because the company had indicated the plaza would be part of Ward Village’s first phase.
At the time, all permitted or completed projects at Ward Village represented 44 percent of building density allowed under Hughes Corp.’s master plan. To date, two towers have been completed, two are under construction and three are permitted but not yet under construction. Recently, Howard Hughes Corp. announced its plan for an eighth tower, Ko‘ula, which along with ‘A‘ali‘i would be on the Diamond Head side of the 1.5-acre lawn and future central plaza.