State weighs options for land previously reserved for presidential library


Now that Chicago has been named the future site for Barack Obama’s presidential library, what will happen to nearly eight acres of land in Kakaako?

The University of Hawaii may have lost its bid against the University of Chicago, but UH officials say it will partner with the Barack Obama Foundation for a joint program that will likely based at the Manoa campus.

As for the empty state land previously set aside for the library, state officials say they’re plowing through with the goal of turning Kakaako Makai into a family-friendly park.

The land, nestled between Children’s Discovery Center and the restaurant 53 by the Sea, has been empty for years now.

“Since it’s owned by the state, I think it’s a great idea to expand it into a park area,” said Kapahulu resident Glen Oide. “For the children, for the families, and it’ll blend into the continuing park that goes out to Ala Moana Boulevard.”

The Hawaii Community Development Authority says it wants to make the empty space more inviting.

“We want to really bring back the people to these areas and provide really good gathering places,” said HCDA spokeswoman Lindsey Doi. “We know it’s not being used right now, but we hope with the right activities, we can have these great family friendly spots where people love going.”

Through community feedback, officials are looking into many options for the space, namely a volleyball center, dog park, playground, art incubator, farmers market, and a music and entertainment space.

“There’s all sorts of suggestions. There’s literally dozens,” said Doi.

While plans are up in the air right now, Doi says HCDA should have the details fleshed out by July.

“We’re seeing what would fit in those parks and putting together a master plan to turn these into reality,” explained Doi.

Parkgoer Keoki Aio says he doesn’t want to see the space turned into industrial space or a “high-rise condominum, which are coming up all over in Kakaako.”

Doi says that’s not going to happen.

“As of right now, residential is not allowed in the Makai area,” said Doi. “It will all be park lands. We’re just looking to activate them more.”

HCDA says public feedback is welcome. It will meet Thursday, June 4, at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 13, at HCDA’s Kakaako office, 547 Queen Street, Honolulu, HI 96813.

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