A permitting process has begun for an amusement park in Kakaako, and if all goes according the developer’s plan, it could open by May 31.
“The main intention is for the whole community, [from] the real young ones to Grandma and Grandpa, to come together and share some good times,” said developer Billy Balding in his presentation to the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) Feb. 6.
The plan includes the renovation of a warehouse and grounds at 222 Ahui St. The park would feature go-karts, indoor skydiving, a zipline, a wave pool, a rock wall, a skate park, four carnival rides such as a children’s Ferris wheel and arcade and party areas. Balding emphasized safety throughout his presentation, pitching it as a safe place where families could take children. The skate park, instead of being open, would be supervised and host clinics, and the proposed style of zipline starts only six feet off the ground and reverses the rider up slowly. “It’s not like [users] are climbing up a tower–that can be really sketchy and dangerous,” he said.
Balding also attempted to assuage concerns about the noise level of the go-karts, which would be gas-powered. They would be “not nearly as loud as a lawnmower,” he said.
He said the park will create jobs for 45 full-time employees.
Only four people gave testimony, all in support of the project.
Local minister Michael Nelson vouched for Balding’s character. “His value system is one of if you’re gonna do something, do it right, do it well,” he said.
Longtime Kakaako advocate Ron Iwami encouraged Balding to consider kamaaina rates and other incentives to encourage locals to patronize the park, instead of just catering to tourists. “To me, it’s going to fit into the Kakaako Makai Master Plan,” Iwami said (see cover story, pg. 6).
The land is owned by Kamehameha Schools, who had no representative at the meeting, but Balding said they are negotiating a lease.
A second meeting on the matter has been scheduled for March 6, when more public testimony will be taken and the HCDA will make a decision on the permit.