Getting The Ward Plan Right
Wednesday - June 25, 2008
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As the vice president of development for the Hawai’i region of General Growth Properties, I am privileged to be working on what I consider one of the nation’s most exciting projects. The plan we have proposed - developed in consultation with Kaka`ako-area community leaders and residents - would transform the Ward properties into a vibrant urban neighborhood. It would create beautiful public plazas and landscaped pedestrian promenades that would become special neighborhood gathering places for Kakaako and the larger community.
Whether we plan for it or not, the Kaka`ako economy and population will grow over the next two decades. Wisely, state and local public policymakers endorse thoughtful planning today to ensure quality of life, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability for generations to come. Given this historic opportunity, our company has offered a new vision for urban Honolulu in the more than 60 acres that comprise our Ward Neighborhood properties. Our proposed master plan would guide development over the next 20 or more years and occur in multiple phases, each phase offering new opportunities for public input.
The master plan envisions elevating the Ward properties from a “location” to a neighborhood destination: accessible, inviting, affordable and convenient. We hope to provide Oahu with something sorely needed: choice. Currently, due to the absence of convenient lifestyle alternatives, most residents are forced to live varying distances from work, shopping and recreation.
The Ward Neighborhood Plan will incorporate significant public green spaces, mauka to makai viewscapes, convenient housing options, and centralized retail and entertainment choices - all accessible via pedestrian-, bicycle- and transit-friendly alternatives. In addition, we envision connecting to and complementing the Kaka’ako neighborhood and businesses, Ala Moana Boulevard and beach park and Kewalo Basin.
Community, communication and collaboration are themes central to successful land use planning. General Growth Properties has hosted dozens of meetings with Ward neighbors, community members, business people, educators, cultural leaders, urban planners, non-profit executives, Kakaako residents, and key government officials. We have invited input during meetings with the themes of “Open Spaces/Public Places,”
“Creating a Livable Neighborhood” and “Sustainability and Connectivity.” An open house was held for all within the Kaka`ako area. What has emerged from these meetings, workshops and open house functions is the beginning of a compelling - and, we hope, growing - collection of ideas, recommendations and goals.
We are now asking the public to take this opportunity to voice their thoughts about the Ward Neighborhood Plan. The agency that oversees the development of the Kaka`ako area - the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) - has a process in place to review our plan and to solicit public input. We support their efforts and are eager to hear your thoughts. After viewing the master plan at www.WardNeighborhood.com, you may contact GGP or HCDA at 587-7683 (www.hcdaweb.org) and register your thoughts.The Kaka`ako community has an opportunity to develop a remarkable neighborhood that incorporates the best ideas in land use planning, sustainability, accessibility, diversity, culture and family - everything that makes livability in Hawaii a reality.
We look forward to your ideas.
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