New Cost Estimates for Natatorium Are a Promising Development for Preservation

December 12, 2017 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

On December 11, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell held a press conference to update the public about the ongoing process of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Waikīkī Natatorium War Memorial. Remarkably, he announced that the cost of retaining the landmark would be roughly equal to the cost to demolish it and replace it with a beach.

Demolition has been the city’s preferred option due to the high costs of a full restoration option, but citizen advocacy has been instrumental in convincing the city to study a less expensive preservation-friendly option. The mayor announced the EIS, due out in the summer of 2018, will include an alternative that rehabilitates the Natatorium stadium structure and decking, but re-engineers the swim basin to allow ocean water to flow freely.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, both this alternative and full demolition would cost between $20 million and $30 million. One of the reasons for the high demolition cost would be the need for the city to rebuild lifeguard facilities that are currently housed in the Natatorium stadium structure.

Identifying a preservation option that comes at a cost similar to that of re-creating the beach is a big step forward and will help counter the assumption that saving the Natatorium is too expensive.

Read the full article here: Mayor weighs alternatives in Natatorium dilemma.



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