Hawaiian Electric seeks developer to plan consolidation of downtown, Ward Avenue sites

Goal is to reduce space, increase efficiency, generate savings

Release Date: 1/10/2018

Download PDF

Ward Avenue complex

Hawaiian Electric Company's Ward Avenue complex
Photo courtesy of Colliers International

HONOLULU, Jan. 10, 2018 - After completing a comprehensive review of its facility needs, the Hawaiian Electric Company is assessing options for consolidating its downtown offices and Ward Avenue operations in new or existing space.

Hawaiian Electric's consultant, Colliers International, plans to issue a request for proposals to potential developers this month. The developer selected would be asked to recommend options for the disposition of the company's existing real estate holdings and the lease, purchase or construction of new facilities.

The primary goal of the consolidation would be to reduce costs, increase efficiency and pass on savings to customers. Final plans, including financing, would require the approval of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The company expects to develop a facility master plan and file an application with the PUC by the end of 2018. It's expected that the bulk of employee moves wouldn't occur earlier than mid-2023.

Presently, about 1,400 Hawaiian Electric employees are scattered among eight locations, including the 4-story building at 900 Richards St. that has served as the headquarters of Hawaiian Electric since 1927 and the company's 70-year-old Ward Avenue complex, which includes offices, a construction and maintenance yard, fleet operations, warehouses and a parking garage.

In addition to eliminating the time spent moving between buildings, bringing employees together in one or two sites would make it easier to collaborate and would significantly shrink the square footage used by the company, potentially reducing cost.

Among the options being considered is the sale of the Ward complex, which consists of about eight usable acres for development. The bulk of the Ward Avenue property was purchased in 1944 for the construction of an office building that opened in 1947 and was expanded in 1970.

The building houses much of the company's engineering and planning staff along with its system operations center, warehousing and fleet operations. More than 400 field employees, including line crews, meter readers and construction workers, also work out of the Ward complex.

As the redevelopment of Kakaako has progressed, the industrial nature of the Ward site no longer fits with the neighborhood. Traffic has made moving trucks and heavy equipment in and out of the Ward base yard more challenging and repair crews leaving the yard are often delayed, resulting in longer outage response times.