- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - The city’s plan to tear down Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium is being pushed back as state officials raise concerns about the historic building’s preservation.

City official, Robert Kroning, said State Historic Preservation Division officials have asked the city to consider a third possible alternative for the building, which he said could take about 16-18 months, reported The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1KVGb4S).

Kroning said the city had hoped to complete a draft environmental assessment in April. “An 18-month delay would probably put us toward the end of 2016,”?he said.

A final EIS would probably be completed about six months after that, he said.

The draft assessment lists alternatives as demolition or the full restoration of the pool, bleachers and arches of the nearly century-old structure.

Kroning said the Caldwell administration still calls for most of the building to be torn down and the area turned into a beach. Under the plan, the Beaux Arts-style arches would be saved and moved back from the shoreline, which is estimated to cost about $18.4 million.

SHPD officials have told the city that they “feel pretty strongly that we should be including at least one more alternative that takes into consideration . saving a little bit more of the memorial than what we have in our preferred alternative,”?Kroning said.

In a statement, the state Architecture Branch did not say outright that it asked for a third alternative. However, the branch said, “We did attend a site visit on May 29, 2015, to assess the condition of the Natatorium and discuss options that may be identified within the EA including restoration, adaptive reuse, and redevelopment of the site.”

The decision to tear down the Natatorium was made in 2009 by a task force comprised of various stakeholders.

Debate over what to do with the historic building has gone on for decades. The facility was built in 1927 as a memorial to honor those who died in World War I. After years of neglect and disrepair, the building was shut down in 1979.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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