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Hawaiʻi Convention Center previews $64M roof repair, upcoming events

FILE - Kawaii Kon 2022 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center
Liberty Peralta
FILE - Kawaii Kon 2022 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center

State lawmakers have solved a $64 million question when it comes to the future of the Hawaiʻi Convention Center. That's the cost of fixing the center's leaky roof, which has become an increasing problem as repairs were delayed for years.

Any spending for the convention center usually comes out of the budget for the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, but legislators separated the roof repair bill from the controversy surrounding HTA’s funding.

"Because the leak project has been deferred for so long, the leaks are running in other areas, and it's now running in areas that impact attendee meeting rooms," said Teri Orton, the head of the convention center. "Hopefully most of the rainy, wet months have passed us and we're now getting into summer."

Orton said the center was in the process of awarding a $15 million contract to begin temporary fixes on the roof. The additional funding for a permanent fix is good news, but now they have to cancel the contract process and begin anew.

"I don't believe in the next fiscal year we will start any construction. We'll still be going through the RFP process and, of course, awarding and going through the planning and permitting stage. We're somewhat projecting 2025-2026 is when we're looking at construction to start if planning and permitting goes as planned," she said.

The plan is for no construction during convention center events, so dates may have to be moved around.

"We also have to look at how that's going to impact cost escalation for the overall project compared to the business that we may have to displace. So there's a lot of moving parts in the planning of this project that are still unknown," Orton added.

With all the recent news about HTA funding, Orton said she has reassured staff that the venue has alternate funds to survive operationally.

Orton said there are 16 large events scheduled at the convention center in the fiscal year that starts this July.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 9, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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