HONOLULU (KHON2) — After 40 years in business, Dee Lite Bakery in Kalihi closed its door in 2018. The City acquired the property a year later for $8.84 million using city affordable housing funds. Four years later, community members are questioning why the property hasn’t been used for its intended purpose yet.
“That’s a wishlist for the community,” said Amanda Ybanez, Kalihi Palama Neighborhood board member. “I think that’s something that many people currently now are looking for that possibility.”
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Back in December, Honolulu City Council Budget Chair, Radiant Cordero, sent a letter to the managing director about her concerns regarding the lack of plans for the development of the property.
KHON2 reached out to the city on Friday and it said it’s hoping to execute a contract through the Department of Planning and Permitting within the next month for feasibility analysis and preliminary concept design for the property for affordable housing.
But what will actually be built at the former Dee Lite Bakery property is still up in the air.
Digging deeper KHON2 found that the funding behind the property might make future plans restricted.
“The difficulty with the type of funding — it is pretty restrictive,” said Cordero. “I do think we need to find a way to allow for mix use in the area so it can not just serve that affordable housing unit, but the greater community in the area and the rail station too.”
Over the years, the Honolulu Fire Department refurbished the bakery for a temporary fire station and the Department of Facility Maintenance also used it. Now, the Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement program is temporarily using the property.
However, others in the community have different ideas for how it should be used. Moving forward, Kalihi residents want a clear line of communication on what’s being done with the space.
“So they can also decide what this is going to look like. Instead of a top-down, we’re going to tell you what it’s going to be,” Ybanez said.
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The City Council Budget Committee Chair is looking into ways to allow flexibility for how the property will be used.