Lawmakers stall funding for 10-story school building in Honolulu

HONOLULU — State lawmakers stalled funding for a 10-story public elementary school, preventing a groundbreaking this year for the state’s first vertical public school.

Members of the Legislature recently opted not to approve $20 million for the Pohukaina Elementary School and an associated residential tower, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

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The funding for the estimated $60 million project was planned as a supplemental capital improvement spending authorization running through June 2021.

Democratic state Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said the funds were not needed in the next year because the project is not ready for construction.

“We were looking to put money into projects that will be used soon,” Keith-Agaran said.

Construction in the Kakaako district of Honolulu was expected to start last year. Alakai Development, the tentative developer, plans to build a companion, 390-unit apartment tower on state land next to Mother Waldron Park.

The apartments are expected to serve families with projected monthly rent starting around $2,500.

The estimated cost for the school, which is projected to serve 750 students, has risen from an initial $40 million to the current $60 million.

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Jon Wallenstrom of Alakai Development did not comment on what has limited progress other than saying the school remains in a design phase with a focus on serving the urban community.

The project planning began in 2012 with a request for development proposals issued by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency regulating development in Kakaako.

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