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Revitalization of Hawaii’s Military Bases Leads to Record Construction Projects

Rose Medina Kemna  |  January 29, 2019

Revitalization of Hawaii’s Military Bases Leads to Record Construction Projects

Aerial view of Honolulu, Hawaii, on an overcast and rainy day. Focus on Pearl Harbor.

It is a known fact that the Military is the second-largest economic segment in Hawaii behind the Tourism Hospitality Industry. Because Hawaii is a key strategic location for the defense of the United States it has always had a strong presence in our islands. Growing up on Oahu, I recall my mother, who was a local girl, describing to me her experience when she was “a little girl on that fateful day of December 7, 1941, when bombs exploded on Pearl Harbor and it could be heard all the way to Waialua” on the north shore where she was born and raised.

From then until now, local residents understand and respect the importance of the U.S. Military. If you are a military veteran or on active duty and are reading my blog, I’d like to start off by first expressing gratitude to you for your service to our great country. If you are Kama’aina (a local resident), or if you live outside of Hawaii, this will give you a good perspective on the scope of our military presence, especially on the island of Oahu.

New Investment in Military Bases

The Asia Pacific region as of late has been having important political developments, most notably with North Korea and China, which has given our congressional leaders motivation to invest in the revitalization of the military installations (bases) on Oahu and some key areas in the state. In a recent quote, Senator Mazie Hirono said that as part of the National Defense Strategy, Hawaii Military Construction projects “received appropriations totaling $311.42 million for fiscal year 2019.” That was up from 2018 by $119 million or 38% over last year which is a significant increase.

Read on to learn about some of the Department of Defense Military construction projects taking place due to these appropriations.

Main Construction Projects from the 2019 Appropriations

One of the significant projects is a redevelopment to build a new complex for U.S. Army Indo-Pacific Command and Control Facility at Fort Shafter. The funding will support Phase III of the $284 million project. Project Manager, Rob Myer, points out that the great thing about this project is that it’s giving a “generous amount of small business participation and involvement as part of the projects’ contract requirements.” What this means is that small business general contractors are able to participate because the Department of Defense took this into consideration and crafted the RFP’s (Request for Proposals) to encourage opportunities for local small businesses that would not have otherwise been possible under normal military contract requirements.  The military has done a great job and has continued to increase ways to support our community.

Rendering courtesy of Hensel Phelps Construction Co.

Other Department of Defense (DOD) Projects

  • MV22 Osprey landing pads at Marine Corp Base Hawaii – Work includes constructing four concrete landing pads for MV-22 and rotary wing aircraft, and incidental related work.
  • Operational Readiness Training Complex at Pohakuloa Training Area (on Hawaii Island) – The Army is looking to modernize a small portion of the 134,000-acre training space situated between Mauna Loa and Maunakea by replacing aging buildings to “improve personnel safety and quality of life,” as well as to meet current building criteria and comply with anti-terrorism standards.
Utility upgrades at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam – including an MCAF F-22 Fighter Alert Hangar for Joint Base Pearl Harbor at an estimated cost of $41.48 million.

New MV22 Ospreys arrive at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, 2018. Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps

Even beyond the scope of the 2019 Appropriations, several community leaders including Connie Lau, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council and Senator Mazie Hirono have indicated that additional investments are on the horizon, one of which is “the Navy’s 20 year $21 billion shipyard modernization plan released this year which is expected to invest nearly $5 billion in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard over the next 20 years to enable it to handle the larger Block V Virginia class submarines, in addition to other long-neglected improvements to modernize and increase efficiency at the shipyard.”

Another major project is being initiated by the Missile Defense Agency which is looking to build a homeland defense radar in Hawaii as confirmed by Senator Hirono. Currently, the Missile Defense Agency, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army, is currently in the process of having an environmental impact study for proposed locations of the radar and associated support facilities. The proposed budget by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction forecast is $100 million to $200 million for each phase of the two-phase construction.

Successful flight test for medium-range ballistic missile

Finally, last but not least, one of the most notable projects is the U.S. Army’s 2.6 Billion plan to upgrade and build new facilities in Hawaii. According to a statement by U. S. Senator Brian Schatz, who helped spearhead the plan, the Army’s Hawaii Infrastructure Readiness Initiative “is critical to Hawaii, to the Army’s success and to our national security.”

The plan is expected to start in the fiscal year 2020 with a five-year, $350 million upgrade to Wheeler Army Airfield facilities. In later years, planned infrastructure improvements will focus on strengthening Army readiness with repairs to or construction of new aviation, operations, maintenance, and training facilities, Schatz said. Plans include improvements to all Army installations in Hawaii, including Schofield Barracks.

Island Palm Communities

All of these DOD Military construction projects signal a continued strong growth and commitment for the military segment in Hawaii as these big projects revitalize and have a positive domino effect on our economy generating revenue for hospitality, retail, and residential real estate sectors to name a few. (Readers’ Note: these are some of the main projects; however, there are more I haven’t been able to mention here). Besides the commercial projects taking place, LendLease Hawaii in partnership with the Army has been in the process of upgrading and renovating the Island Palm Communities residential base housing starting last year, 2018.

Island Palm Communities is a partnership between the U.S. Army and LendLease Hawaii. Information on its website states that “the partnership developed, designed and constructed 4,725 new homes and 7 community centers, and renovated 2,516 existing homes during its initial development scope.” These homes provide rentals primarily to Army personnel and secondary to other branches of the military.

There are numerous other options for military personnel who prefer to use their VA benefits to purchase a home in Hawaii. If you have questions about the Department of Defense military projects in this blog or the process of buying or selling a home in Hawaii, feel free to reach out to me.

Beautiful military couple who are wonderful clients

More Information

Rose Medina Kemna holds a Broker’s License and an “MRP” designation which stands for Military Relocation Professional. She is passionate about helping people from all walks of life including active-duty personnel and U.S. veterans and has many friends and clients in the military. Her grandfather and father were both U.S. Army Veterans, and she has an Uncle who is a retired Colonel in the Army, as well as several cousins who are former military. Prior to becoming a Realtor six years ago, she worked as a sales professional in the hospitality industry for ten years and was responsible for working with the Military market, including spending time at all the Oahu Military bases and the offices of U.S. Pacific Command. She has been recognized by both Honolulu Magazine, for “Best in Real Estate” as well as earned recognition by the Honolulu Board of Realtors as an Aloha Aina Award Nominee for consecutive years since 2014. You can reach out to her at [email protected]

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I believe my life's purpose as a Realtor® is to help people navigate the transitions in their lives during the buying and selling process of a home in Hawaii. Born and raised on the island of Oahu, I am passionate about sharing my love for these islands with people from all walks of life.

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