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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 3, 2010

Land sale may fund campus

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Gene Awakuni

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A deal to sell 55 acres of state land to finance the construction of a scaled-down University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu campus could be announced as soon as this month, according to the school's chancellor, Gene Awakuni.

The deal, which would still need UH and legislative approval, could allow construction of school facilities to begin as early as August with classes at the planned new campus beginning about a year later. UH-West O'ahu, which now operates out of Leeward Community College, had previously planned to open its new campus in spring 2011.

The university is still in negotiations with two developers that submitted bids following an announcement the land was for sale last fall, Awakuni said.

"We won't know for sure whether we'll have a deal or not until we consummate the process, which we think should take a few weeks," he said.

Awakuni said he hopes to have a recommended deal available to present to the Board of Regents this month or next. Any proposed sale of state land also will need the support of a resolution passed by two-thirds of the state House and Senate.

Awakuni declined to say what the land could be worth. But in the past he has said UH-West O'ahu hoped to raise about $40 million from the land sale.

According to the sales package for the land, the land could be used for a supermarket or other retail development, a health club, theaters, offices or apartments. Developers had until Sept. 10 to submit proposals.

Money from the sale would be used for the construction of buildings on the campus where work is under way on water, sewer and other improvements. The money also could be used to access bond money, Awakuni said.

Awakuni said he's confident the university will be able to proceed with construction soon.

"It's viable," he said. "We may not complete all quarter-million square feet of buildings, but we'll get something done."

The full cost of building the new Kapolei campus was supposed to have been covered by a $100 million deal to sell state land around the campus for a housing development. However, Hunt Companies pulled out of that deal last summer.

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