Redevelopment of Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial gains traction

Pacific Business News
July 23, 2014
Duane Shimogawa

The City and County of Honolulu submitted an environmental report to the state for the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial redevelopment project. | PBN File

The City and County of Honolulu submitted an environmental report to the state for the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial redevelopment project. | PBN File

The project to redevelop the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, which includes creating a new beach fronted by a replica World War I memorial arch that could cost more than $18 million, is gaining some traction.

The City and County of Honolulu recently submitted a 141-page final environmental assessment and environmental impact statement preparation notice done by Aiea-based WCP Inc., to the state.

This notice, which triggers a 30-day public comment period, is to let the public know that a full environmental impact statement will be done because of the anticipated impacts it could have on the environment, as well as gather input on the project. A final EIS on the project is expected to be completed in summer 2016.

Last year, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced a plan to spend $18.4 million to demolish the pool, which has been closed for years, move the historic arch identifying it as a war memorial, and create a new public beach on the site.
Officials at the time said it would cost $69.4 million to restore the pool decks, which are crumbling into the ocean. An updated cost of the project is expected to be disclosed in the EIS.

The plan, which includes aligning the replica arch with the existing Roll of Honor plaque and hau tree arbor, also involves building a new bathhouse, the removal of an internal roadway and construction of a consolidated parking lot.

The purpose of the project is to improve the Waikiki War Memorial Complex area of Kapiolani Regional Park by renewing the memorial to World War I veterans and to fully reopen that portion of the park to the public, as well as to bring new life to the deteriorating structure.

The Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial was recently named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which supports the search for alternatives to the city and state plan to redevelop the 6.7-acre site bounded by the Waikiki Aquarium, Kalakaua Avenue, the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel and the ocean.