More changes in Kakaako

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - VIEWS & VOICES -

Much of the re­de­vel­op­ment ac­tion in Kakaako so far has been makai of Ka­pi­olani Boule­vard, largely by Howard Hughes Corp. in its Ward Vil­lages and by Kame­hameha Schools’ project part­ner­ships.

But ready or not, start look­ing mauka: Hawai­ian Elec­tric Co. is launch­ing a search for pri­vate-de­vel­oper pro­pos­als so it can sell eight of its 10.7 acres across from Neal Blais­dell Cen­ter.

No doubt the lo­ca­tion is prime — it’s bor­dered by three condo tow­ers, Sym­phony Honolulu, One Archer Lane and the Royal Court — as is the tim­ing: HECO’s 10.7 acres is val­ued by the city at $161 mil­lion, ex­clud­ing $19 mil­lion for build­ings, a hefty in­crease from $100 mil­lion in 2013. Plus, the lease on HECO’s his­toric down­town head­quar­ters on Richards Street, on Kame­hameha Schools land, ex­pires in 2021.

It’s also a pivot pe­riod in Hawaii’s en­ergy fu­ture, with new tech­nolo­gies emerg­ing amid the state’s pol­icy push for 100 per­cent “clean” en­ergy by the year 2045.

All this con­ver­gence makes it an ideal time for HECO to look for more ef­fi­cien­cies, in­clud­ing from within: About 700 work­ers are over­crowded at the Kakaako hub, while another 700 are spread over seven other sites, some of them leased of­fices down­town. Con­sol­i­dat­ing op­er­a­tions and im­prov­ing func­tion­al­ity, the util­ity said, are top rea­sons for this po­ten­tial top-dol­lar real es­tate sale.

Be­yond more changes for Kakaako, all this also has im­pli­ca­tions for en­ergy ratepay­ers.

“What we’re hop­ing to get out of this is an in­vest­ment that, through ef­fi­ciency and cost sav­ings, gets passed on to the cus­tomer,” said HECO spokesman Jim Kelly.

More power to HECO, then, as this process com­mences. Ratepay­ers, the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion and the Con­sumer Ad­vo­cate all will be fol­low­ing this closely.

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