More changes in Kakaako
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.