HONOLULU (AP) — The developer of Ko Olina Resort & Marina has used nearly $3.5 million in state tax credits to pay for costs associated with a proposed aquarium project that was canceled.
Jeff Stone said last year he would not use any of the $75 million in state credits for the aquarium, which he had decided not to build. But state records show Stone used some of the money and plans to claim about $323,000 more in expenses for the project.
Stone says he tried to return the money to the Legislature, but lawmakers could not agree on how to use the funds.
‘‘We tried to give them (the credits) back several times,’’ Stone, who claimed the credits last month, told The Honolulu Advertiser. ‘‘It just kept sitting there and sitting there.’’
Several bills last year to redirect the tax credits for affordable housing, education and other purposes failed. Bills to rescind the tax credits also failed last year.
Stone says he supports using the credits to build affordable housing and adds that much of the $75 million is still available.
Although two measures to redirect the credits have stalled this year, lawmakers are still considering a bill to repeal them.
An aquarium was envisioned as a way to stimulate development at the resort and in the surrounding West Oahu community. But Stone has said market forces — and possibly even the expectation of the aquarium — accomplished that goal, making the aquarium unnecessary.
A hotel and time-share project by Walt Disney Parks & Resorts at Ko Olina is expected to include an aquarium or at least elements of an aquarium.
Stone’s $3.45 million credit was for mostly design and planning expenses incurred from 2003 to 2005.
Stone and his partners bought the struggling Ko Olina in 1999 at the end of a statewide economic downturn. Since then, hundreds of homes, condominiums and time-share units have been built and more are planned.