Hilton Hawaiian Village, embroiled in sometimes acrimonious contract talks and pre-occupied by crisis management as experts study mold in the one-year old Kalia Tower, has still won a victory in its effort to build yet another tower.
The Honolulu City Council’s Zoning Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to send the Hilton’s plan for a 350-unit timeshare tower to the full council for a vote on Aug. 7, despite the fact that there is already congestion and insufficient parking in the area.
The hearing drew residents of nearby condos who oppose the $80 million tower along with small business owners from the vicinity who support it. Hilton consultants said traffic would actually improve under its plan. Councilman Duke Bainum said opposition had diminished because of changes Hilton made from its original plan.
Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union submitted reports that said employees of the Hilton Hawaiian Village are forced to park on the streets around Waikiki’s largest hotel campus whenever there is a major event there. That’s frequently, since the Village hosts more business conferences than the Hawaii Convention Center does. Local 5 also said existing business at the Village was creating cleanliness problems with the hotel’s famous lagoon. The Hilton promised to clean it up. Finally, the union told the zoning panel what it had already told the public, that it felt the Hilton should resolve its mold problem in the Kalia Tower before getting the go-ahead to start a new one.
The planned tower would be long and narrow, close to Ala Moana Boulevard and aligned with the alley that separates the Hilton property from the Ilikai. The alley would be widened with a traffic light installed so Hilton could turn it into a more important means of accessing the entire Village campus. The City Council meeting next week will be in Kapolei. Peter Schall, manager of the Hawaiian Village, said Hilton had nothing to do with that and to prove it would offer a free shuttle bus to the meeting for anyone who wants to attend including opponents.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village has more than 4,400 rooms and so many shops and restaurants that some visitors never leave the grounds. It is one of the biggest profit centers Hilton has worldwide. A major feature of the company’s quarterly earnings report Tuesday was a $10 million charge for mold clean-up in Hawaii.