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By Dane Stein. April 8, 2013 - 11:40 am
After months of delay in dispute over ownership, Hawaii Pacific University has secured full ownership of Aloha Tower Marketplace and can proceed with plans to convert the space into lofts for 300 students and other mixed-use facilities.
Controversy began in October 2012 when 80% owner HPU attempted to buy out the remaining interest from developer Ed Bushor and his company Hawaii Lifestyle Retail Properties for a reported $5 million, a plan which reports said he opposed.
Bushor was replaced as manager of the company by Hawaii Downtown Holdings, a company managed and founded by HPU leadership.
By 2013, the case was in arbitration, and HPU stood accused of defrauding Bushor out of his stake in the project, a claim that Aloha Tower Development Corporation, which oversees development of the state-owned land around the historic tower, decided in January lacked sufficient evidence.
HPU?plans to add student housing and other university amenities along with new retailers and restaurants at the 165,000-square-foot open-air retail center that has struggled with low tenant occupancy since it opened in 1994, the Star Advertiser has reported.
The matter was finally resolved this month for an undisclosed figure, leaving the property open to HPU’s redevelopment plans.
The university intends to fund the project with an estimated $31-35 million in special purpose revenue bonds from the state, which stipulate that the not-for-profit university may not share interest with a for-profit organization.
HPU leadership estimates bond sales to total $76 million, and cover a variety projects in addition to the student lofts and academic facilities intended to occupy what it calls the Aloha Tower Project.
Since these are state bonds, all relevant financial records pertaining to their use are required by state law to be made public.
“The sale of special purpose revenue bonds in support of this project and numerous other university upgrades is scheduled to begin in May,” said HPU President Geoffrey Bannister. “We hope to begin renovation work this summer.”
Bushor said in a report written by HPU that he is happy that a mutually acceptable agreement was reached, stating, “I am honored to assist HPU, education and youth in the growth of the university. I believe this will further HPU’s ambitious program of development and place it on the map worldwide. This is a win-win for all – HPU, its students, Bushor and Hawaii.”
Photo by: Joana Gonzalez