The Oahu Burial Council in Honolulu, Hawaii, is asking for closer review over a controversial redevelopment project for the old Honolulu Advertiser building, 801 South St. in Kakaako.
OIBC members have stated that the State Historic Preservation Division removed the project from their oversight by not requiring that the developer conduct an archaeological survey before the construction phase. State officials gave the go-ahead for the project to continue without survey.
“Given the intense scrutiny for Kakaako and we are within a couple of blocks where 600-plus kupuna iwi were disinterred at Kawaiahao Church, how could such a decision be made,” said Jonathan Likeke Scheuer, the council’s outgoing vice chair.
Just last month Circuit Judge Karl Salamoto ordered a halt to construction on the project after he found that the state violated state historic preservation laws. Salamoto’s ruling will likely delay the project by several months.
Hawaii News Now reported that Susan Lebo, the state preservation division’s lead archaeologist for Oahu, initially did require an archaeological inventory survey for the Advertiser building, but then reversed her decision after the developer’s consultant convinced her of the low potential of finding “human remains”. The developer’s consultant did have an archaeological firm provide information in the form of “geotechnical boring”.
The developer claims that they have taken the steps to fulfill all of the historic preservation requirements, and that they are leaving it up to the state to decide what the next step will be.