- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - A long-vacant state building in Honolulu will finally be renovated and used again.

The work by contractor Ralph S. Inouye Co. is set to begin Monday at the nine-story Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building, which has been unused since 2003, Honolulu news station Hawaii News Now (https://is.gd/EN2MMQ) reported.

Renovations were expected to cost about $25 million.

The previous discovery of asbestos and deteriorated systems in the old building increased the costs.

Tentative plans call for workers with the state health and human services departments to relocate to the building in the fall of 2016, according to Doug Murdoch, a state comptroller. Murdoch heads the state’s Department of Accounting and General Services, which oversees state facilities and purchasing.

State officials estimate moving workers back into the building will save about $1.6 million in annual rent. Currently, the state rents about 250,000 square feet of office space from private landlords in urban Honolulu.

The Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building, located 1 1/2 blocks from the state Capitol, has been empty so long that a tree has sprouted on the roof and another in front of the building’s main sign.

The state set $12.6 million aside in 2005 for renovations. Removal of asbestos and old air-conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems cost about $1.4 million.

“The original funding that we had was good for removing asbestos and doing some other remediation work that we had to do to turn it into an empty shell as it is now,” Murdoch said.

The project languished, however, during the recession. Murdoch said it’s only been in the past few years that the state has gotten full funding to finish the project.

Constructed in 1957, the building was listed as the tallest commercial building in Honolulu at the time. The state paid $2.5 million to the Hawaiian Trust Co. for the property in 1968.

The building was shuttered in 2003.

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