HPU Today
The Aloha Tower Project

New student housing is first focus

Momentum around Hawai‘i Pacific University's Aloha Tower Project (ATP) shifted into high gear in March, as HPU cleared the last major obstacle between it and redevelopment of the iconic downtown Honolulu waterfront site.

Hawaii Pacific University and Our Future

HPU and its former development partner on the project agreed in February to a buyout of the developer's minority interest, leaving the university as the sole owner — a detail essential to the university's ability to use proceeds from a coming tax-free bond-sale for the ATP renovation, as well as other campus facilities and IT needs. The HPU Board of Trustees approved the deal in a March 8 meeting.

Those events followed three months of forward progress on the project, including gaining necessary ownership and management approvals from the governing body for the Aloha Tower site, the Aloha Tower Development Corporation. As this issue of HPU Today goes to press, final arrangements are being made for the bond sale, with demolition projected by summer and renovations following that.

"We're excited about our ability to move forward with a project that we believe has tremendous implications for the university, for our downtown merchants and community and for all of Honolulu," said HPU President Geoffrey Bannister.

Even as machinations to make the project a reality continue to develop, HPU leaders are working to identify a master planner to integrate development needs not just for the ATP, but campus wide. With the recent completion of the university's strategic plan along with ATP progress, elements necessary to guide master planning well into the future are finally in place.

Slideshow of the Aloha Tower Project Architectural Renderings
Conceptual renderings by Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects. The university continues with the Aloha Tower Project development discussion. Construction plans will be finalized at a later date.

The first priorities of that planning with regard to the ATP are expected to focus on student housing and development of gathering spaces for athletic events, concerts, lectures and other public events. The second floor of the existing marketplace is projected to be converted to chic urban lofts, enough to house more than 300 students, as well as resident advisors and perhaps visiting faculty or other university guests.

The remainder of the mixed-use development likely will be devoted to retail establishments — restaurants, clothing shops and other businesses catering to residents as well as tourists from Waikiki and the mammoth cruise ships that dock next to Aloha Tower at Pier 10.

University leaders are focused on development that will support student success and that will make the Aloha Tower site an attractive place for a variety of individuals to visit. Rather than envisioning those two points of appeal as mutually exclusive, project leaders believe they will be complementary, creating an atmosphere that, among other things, helps HPU compete more effectively for international students.

"This will be enormously helpful in our efforts to attract even more students to study in Hawai'i," Bannister said. "Creating an inviting environment for those students is at the heart of our plans, and we believe that environment will also be very exciting for Honolulu residents and for visitors to our island."