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Hawaii Pacific University has arranged the final step to consolidate its “campus” in downtown Honolulu as part of a master plan for 2014 to leave its longstanding Windward Oahu base.
The state’s largest private university announced Tuesday that it plans to rent enough downtown office space – the equivalent of roughly a 12-story building – to complete the shift over the next two years.
HPU committed to rent around 20 percent of the Waterfront Plaza office complex, long known as Restaurant Row, along with a smaller portion of the Pioneer Plaza office tower for classrooms, laboratories, a library, executive offices and other school purposes.
Under the plan, the last remaining operations of HPU’s Hawaii Loa campus in Kaneohe would move downtown, including the College of Science and Computer Sciences and the College of Health and Society, which will bring over 1,000 students and faculty to Waterfront Plaza would.
HPU will lease around 100,000 square meters of space at Waterfront Plaza on the border with the city center and at Kakaako at 500 Ala Moana Blvd. The university will also lease approximately 22,000 square feet in Pioneer Plaza, about nine blocks from Ewa at 900 Fort Street Mall.
Many of the relocated operations will remain on the HPU windward campus, although other parts, including the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Professional Studies, will be relocated from other buildings in the city center that will be used by the University at Kukui Plaza, in on Bishop Street and in the Mauka at the end of Fort Street Mall.
John Gotanda, HPU president, said in a statement that the relocation will give the university a more central “campus” in the city center.
“Securing new facilities at Waterfront Plaza and Pioneer Plaza is an important step in realizing HPU’s vision of a world-class urban campus,” he said.
HPU expects the relocation to begin in July 2019 and to be completed by May 2020.
The university has been working on a master plan to consolidate the city center for several years.
A big early step was taken when HPU bought the buildings on the largely vacant Aloha Tower Marketplace in 2012 for around $ 14 million and then another roughly $ 40 million to convert retail space into classrooms, dormitories, and others Facilities issued. Some restaurants, including the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, have also been preserved on state-owned land, which was originally developed as a market square by the water.
In 2014, the HPU created a master plan with a focus on the city center, which was anchored in the Aloha Tower. Two years later, she sold her 132-acre Hawaii Loa campus to Castle Medical Center with an agreement that the university would stay as a tenant for up to five years, giving the university time to find enough downtown space to settle move.
The university said the new leases brokered by commercial real estate firm Colliers International will make the nonprofit school the largest residential real estate user in Honolulu’s central business district, covering 350,000 square feet.
Larry Taff, president of Waterfront Plaza owner Pacific Office Properties Trust Inc., said in a statement that the complex of seven low-rise office buildings mixed with restaurants, retail stores and an open-air bar provides a campus-like environment and will rise Occupancy up to almost 100 percent.
At Pioneer Plaza, HPU is already renting around 17,000 square meters for the College of Business and the classrooms. Steve Metter, CEO and director of Pioneer Plaza owner MW Group Ltd., said in a statement that HPU students and faculties are diversifying and nurturing economic activity in the downtown area.
“As one of the largest downtown tenants, HPU draws thousands of students and faculty to the neighborhood,” he said.
The HPU was founded in 1965 and has around 5,000 students. For much of its history, it mainly operated downtown rented office space. The university acquired its Kaneohe campus in 1992 through a merger with Hawaii Loa College.