Bills to Abolish Aloha Tower Development Corp. Advancing in Legislature

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The Aloha Tower Development Corp., a state agency that was bashed for its inability to deliver on redevelopment of Honolulu’s waterfront, will be abolished under legislation pending at the state Legislature.


Companion bills propose splitting up the agency’s functions and giving some of them to the Department of Transportation and the remainder to the Hawaii Community Development Agency.

The bills will formalize what has been a several-year effort to kill off the agency that at one time had ambitions of overseeing mixed-use redevelopment of the Honolulu Harbor’s waterfront between Piers 5 and 23. The agency was created in 1981 and at one time had plans to redevelop the harbor front with an international business center, hotel, condominium and other features.

But the plans fell short with only one notable development, the Aloha Tower Marketplace, failing to live up to financial projections and having to file bankruptcy. The festival marketplace is up for sale by its current owner.

The legislation before lawmakers is similar to recommendations from the state Auditor’s office, which last year issued a scathing audit of the agency saying only one phase of the development plan had been completed and that the goal of collecting $4 billion in rent from developed projects over a 65-year period remained a dream for the state.

“After 30 years of effort, the corporation has managed to complete only one phase of its original mixed-use development plan and that development, the Aloha Tower Marketplace, is struggling,” said the Auditor report issued in April.

The House Transportation Committee passed HB1020 earlier this week that would  establish an Aloha Tower Complex area to be controlled by the HCDA, which would also be transferred the functions, duties and assets of the former agency.

Other actions called for include a transfer implementation of the harbors modernization plan previously handled by the agency to the Department of Transportation.

Another bill, SB1247, also would abolish what remains of the agency and transfer its work. That bill, with amendments, was passed Tuesday by the Senate Committee on Water, Land and Housing.