Hawaii Community Development Authority board poised for developing Kakaako the right way

Some of the key members of the new Hawaii Community Development Authority board

Some of the key members of the new Hawaii Community Development Authority board

It’s been only a few months since a new board has been in place at the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the stage agency regulating developing in the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako.

But talk to people in the community, small-business owners in the area, state lawmakers and individuals on the new board, as I’ve done, and you’ll see that it’s already evident that the way Kakaako is being developed with scores of new high-rises being built, is beginning to change.

And for some, it’s a better, more smarter way of developing the area between Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki.

“Certainly, I do think our current board is no shrinking violets,” Tom McLaughlin, a self-employed private consultant and current board member told PBN. “Everyone is willing to speak up in public and ask questions. Some questions that appear to be shy, this current board shows no hesitancy in asking the tough questions.”

He noted that the board, which is mostly made up of small-business owners chosen under a new selection model, has been actively engaged in putting together a set of objectives going forward, involving issues of transacting the future of Kewalo Basin Harbor and how that portion of Kakaako is developed, and also reserved housing and taking a report on that issue done by the previous board and implementing it.

Then there’s the transient-oriented development process and the homeless issue that they are dealing with.

McLaughlin, an Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board member, said the key point is that the HCDA does not get enough money from the legislature to work on these projects.

“We need to find a way to prioritize or figure out where you get the biggest bang for your buck,” he said. “That’s the focus. It’s identifying what to do and come and prepare a legislative request for funding. When folks are clamoring and yelling about the homeless problem, and you’ve got no money to work on that issue, it’s a tough situation.”

Kalani Capelouto, who also is a board member, told PBN that he is hopeful that the HCDA places a higher emphasis on community when thinking about developments, while understanding the responsibility it has been asked to take regarding developing infrastructure to support needs in Hawaii.

“Development needs to work closely with the community to determine their needs and long-term goals,” the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale board member said. “Development should only press forward when the infrastructure is present to support it. What we see on Oahu is the stress caused to the community and lower quality of life when development outpaces the ability of the infrastructure to support it.”

Read more about the new board and its plans for Kakaako in Friday’s cover story in the print edition of Pacific Business News.

Duane Shimogawa
Pacific Business News

Hawaii agency board to make final decision on Howard Hughes residential project in June

This rendering shows The Howard Hughes Corp.'s planned 988 Halekauwila project

This rendering shows The Howard Hughes Corp.’s planned 988 Halekauwila project

The Howard Hughes Corp. is not quite sure what its next step would be after a Hawaii agency unanimously struck down its request to move ahead with its previously approved Kakaako residential project at 988 Halekauwila as a rental project, the Texas-based developer told PBN.

However, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Community Development Authority told PBN Thursday that the developer’s lawyers indicated that they will file exceptions to their application, so the board will take final action on June 24.

On Wednesday, the HCDA, which has a new set of board members, voted to deny the developer’s request to change the Ward Village project from a mostly affordable for-sale project to a rental project.

Steven Scott, vice chair of the HCDA and owner of Scott Hawaii, told PBN Thursday that the developer should abide by its original permit, which includes building a tower with 424 for-sale units, including 375 reserved units.

The project’s development permit was set to expire on July 17, although the HCDA voted Wednesday to approve an extension for two years.

David Striph, senior vice president for Hawaii for The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC), told PBN in an email that an approval of the developer’s request would have extended the length of regulations keeping the units affordable to 15 years for tenants at 80 percent to 100 percent of area median income, compared to for-sale units that would only remain affordable for two to five years for buyers at 100 percent to 140 percent of area median income.

For a single person, the Honolulu area median income at 80 percent is $46,256, while it’s $57,820 at 100 percent and $80,948 at 140 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“This new board has stated their intention to listen to the voice of our community, and public testimony was overwhelmingly in support of approving the project for 15 years,” Striph said in an email to PBN. “We are disappointed the project was not approved because our community suffers when the delivery of much-needed affordable housing is slowed down or stopped.”

He noted that, in spite of this setback, Howard Hughes is dedicated to providing a wide range of housing in Honolulu for local residents.

“[We] look forward to exploring alternatives to satisfy our reserved housing requirements for Ward Village,” Striph said. “There is much greater need for affordable housing in Honolulu than there is for for-sale condominiums. Approximately five times the number of households on Oahu would have qualified to rent at 988 Halekauwila versus those that are qualified to buy.”

Under the HCDA’s old rules, projects could be utilized as rentals for a minimum of 15 years or longer. But in 2011, new rules came into effect that set the timer period for affordable rentals at a fixed 15 years.

“Under the Howard Hughes plan that it inherited from [General Growth Properties Inc.], it’s a minimum of 15 years,” Scott said. “Then when they went to get their permit in April 2013 for Waiea and Anaha, they said they would be building 375 reserved units for sale at 988 Halekauwila. That would satisfy their affordable requirements.”

Then in January, Howard Hughes said it wanted to make the change from a for-sale to a rental project for 15 years.

“The previous board had put out a study in March, which recommended that if it is a rental project, it should be for 30 years, and that the area median income percentage should be reduced from 140 percent to 120 percent,” Scott said. “When this proposal came to us on April 1, the sentiment was that 15 years is too short. In terms of affordable housing, it should be longer, and in 15 years, they could turn around and sell those units at fair market value, turning it from a co-op to a condo.”

In February, Howard Hughes officially requested the ability to proceed with its 988 Halekauwila project, which will be built across from Sports Authority on Ward Avenue, as a rental development.

The developer previously told PBN that if the request was approved, it would in no way impact the number of reserved housing units — 375 — provided at 988 Halekauwila, which represent three times the number of units required for phase one of Ward Village.

The project, which is being planned on what is the former site of the Kanpai Bar & Grill and the current California Rock ‘N Sushi, is part of the developer’s first phase of its 60-acre Ward Village master plan.

Scott told PBN that under the current rules, Howard Hughes can’t move people into its Waiea and Anaha luxury condos, which are also part of phase one, until it puts financial assurance that it will build 988 Halekauwila, or starts construction on the project.
Duane Shimogawa
Pacific Business News

Honolulu’s Auahi Street to unite Kamehameha Schools, Howard Hughes projects

Auahi Street, looking toward Downtown Honolulu from Ward Avenue will be opened up when the Hawaii Community Development Authority moves the city's coning unit branch to another spot in Kakaako.

Auahi Street, looking toward Downtown Honolulu from Ward Avenue will be opened up when the Hawaii Community Development Authority moves the city’s coning unit branch to another spot in Kakaako.

Auahi Street, an important route through the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako that currently separates The Howard Hughes Corp.’s 60-acre Ward Village master-planned community from Kamehameha Schools’ properties, is getting connected.

Anthony Ching, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency regulating the redevelopment of Kakaako, said this week at its regularly scheduled meeting that the plan to open up Auahi Street should gain some traction during the first quarter of this year.

Currently, Auahi Street, which starts and ends on Queen and South streets, is cut off almost in the middle from Kamani to Koula streets by the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Facility Management’s sidewalk-nuisance ordinance and stored property ordinance program and coning unit branch.

The connection of Auahi Street from Kamani and Koula streets would prove useful to both Kamehameha Schools and The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC) — and would connect the two developers’ mixed-use communities, providing pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular circulation.

But the HCDA has proposed moving the city’s coning unit branch to the state agency’s former Look Lab Facility in Kakaako Makai, which consists of an 18,000-square-foot warehouse and 29,560-square-foot open yard space.

Ching said that this property, which was previously leased by the University of Hawaii until 2003 and has since been vacant except for short-term tenants, would be a perfect fit for the branch because it would provide the city with a needed facility and enforcement of the sidewalk-nuisance ordinance program in the Kakaako Makai area.

“The proximity of the branch will impact the homeless population in the area,” he said, noting that opening up Auahi Street would be a full-service effort, painting lines to show bike and pedestrian lanes.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

Hawaii agency moves up hearings for Howard Hughes, MacNaughton-Kobayashi condo towers

The planned Vida at 888 Ala Moana luxury condominium tower being developed by the Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group received neighborhood board approval Tuesday night.

The planned Vida at 888 Ala Moana luxury condominium tower being developed by the Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group received neighborhood board approval Tuesday night.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has rescheduled the decision-making public hearings for The Howard Hughes Corp.’s plan to replace Ward Warehouse and the Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group’s Vida luxury condominium high-rise on a 3.5-acre site in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako.

The state agency, which oversees the redevelopment of the fast-growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako, originally scheduled the Howard Hughes hearing for Dec. 3, but has moved it to Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving. The presentation hearing for the Kobayashi-MacNaughton project, which is scheduled for Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. has not changed, but the new date for the decision-making hearing has also been moved to Nov. 25 at noon, from Dec. 17.

Both hearings will be held at 461 Cooke St. in the Makai Conference Room.

The HCDA already held two public hearings on The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC) project, which includes a total of 236 units in two towers, as well as commercial and recreation space on the site of the current Ward Warehouse.

The Howard Hughes Corp. is asking the HCDA for four modifications, including to increase the maximum platform height to 65 feet with an allowance of an additional 15 feet in height for 15 percent of the roof area that will be used for accessory uses.

MK Development, a joint venture of the Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group, purchased six acres from Kamehameha Schools for an undisclosed price to develop two ultra-luxury mixed-use residential projects totaling about 500 units along the mauka side of Ala Moana Boulevard.

The 38-story Vida tower at 888 Ala Moana Blvd. will include 265 two- and three-bedroom units and will be designed by Los Angeles-based Arquitectonica and Honolulu-based Ben Woo Architects, which will be helping the project seek LEED certification with an energy-efficient design and features.

Amenities for the project include guest suites, movie theaters, dining rooms with a chef’s kitchen, children’s play areas, game rooms and a putting green.

Heyer & Associates LLC will be handling sales of the project.

The Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group also developed the Hokua and Capitol Place mixed-use projects in Honolulu, and are also working on a project that includes seven ultra-luxury condominium towers planned for what is now a parking area of Ala Moana Center fronting Ala Moana Boulevard called Park Lane Ala Moana, with a development cost of about $300 million, according to public records.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

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Hawaii agency moves ahead with affordable housing project in Kakaako

This vacant lot at 630 Cooke St. in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako could be developed into affordable housing.

This vacant lot at 630 Cooke St. in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako could be developed into affordable housing.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency overseeing the redevelopment of the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako, has given its executive director unanimous approved to send out a request for proposals to developers wanting to build an affordable housing project on land owned by the agency.

Lindsey Doi, spokeswoman for the HCDA, confirmed to PBN that the decision was made at HCDA’s regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday. She said that HCDA could begin soliciting bids and choose a developer by Feb. 2015.

The vacant industrial parcel at 630 Cooke St., which consists of about 10,400 square feet and is located between Sunshine Scuba and Baby Emporium, is currently being used as a surface parking lot.

“We acquired the parcel of land in the 1990s through the Cooke Street realignment improvement district project,” Doi previously told PBN via email. “We always hoped it could help supplement Kakaako’s housing supply, and we’re looking for a different type of housing unit that might be a better fit for qualified income groups.”

She noted that microunits are an option, since these types of units might create smaller rental units for lower prices.

The property has an estimated value of about $1.9 million, and is owned by the HCDA, according to tax records. No building permit has been filed for the property since 1991.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

Another housing project for Honolulu’s Kakaako neighborhood may be in the works

The Hawaii Community Development Authority may be looking for a developer to build an affordable housing project on land it owns in the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, which is overseeing the redevelopment of the area between Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki that will gain thousands of new residents living in several new high-rises in the coming years, may issue a request for proposals for such a development at 630 Cooke St.

The vacant industrial parcel, which consists of about 10,400 square feet and is located between Sunshine Scuba and Baby Emporium, is currently being used as a surface parking lot.

“We acquired the parcel of land in the 1990s through the Cooke Street realignment improvement district project,” HCDA spokeswoman Lindsey Doi told PBN via email. “We always hoped it could help supplement Kakaako’s housing supply, and we’re looking for a different type of housing unit that might be a better fit for qualified income groups.”

She noted that microunits are an option, since these types of units might create smaller rental units for lower prices.

“If the RFP is approved, we could solicit bids and choose a developer by February 2015,” Doi said.

The property has an estimated value of about $1.9 million, and is owned by the HCDA, according to tax records. No building permit has been filed for the property since 1991.

The HCDA is scheduled to make a decision whether or not to issue an RFP to develop the property at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m. at 461 Cooke St.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

Howard Hughes Corp. withdraws petition for reserved units at Kakaako residential project

This rendering shows The Howard Hughes Corp.'s planned 424-unit, mostly affordable condominium at 988 Halekauwila, part of the developer's Ward Village master-planned community.

This rendering shows The Howard Hughes Corp.’s planned 424-unit, mostly affordable condominium at 988 Halekauwila, part of the developer’s Ward Village master-planned community.

The Howard Hughes Corp. is temporarily withdrawing its petition dealing with reserved housing units on its 424-unit residential tower planned for 988 Halekauwila in Honolulu’s Kakaako neighborhood as part of the first phase of its Ward Village master plan.

The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC) said that 375 of the total number of units will be offered at prices lower than the market-rate luxury condo towers.

“Ward Village is dedicated to helping fulfill the housing needs of our neighborhood, [and] we have listened to the community and have heard great demand for more affordable options, including rentals at lower income levels,” Race Randle, senior director of development for the Texas-based developer, said in a statement. “In response to this message from our community, we have asked for clarification of [Hawaii Community Development’s] rules to better understand what options are available.”

He also said that “due to the misunderstanding of our request, we have decided to temporarily withdraw it so that we can further clarify our intentions to the appropriate stakeholders.”

“This rule clarification in no way changes our commitment to build 375 reserved housing units at 988 Halekauwila, nor does it change our strong commitment to creating a diverse community at Ward Village with an array of housing options and price points, including affordable and market-rate housing,” Randle said.

The developer noted in its second quarter earnings report that it is finalizing plans for this project, and that as of June 30, it has spent $3.8 million on developments costs on the project, which will be located on what is the former site of the Kanpai Bar & Grill and the current California Rock ‘N Sushi.

The project also will include six levels of parking and about 23,000 square feet of retail space.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

The Howard Hughes Corp. finalizing plans on Honolulu workforce housing tower

The Howard Hughes Corp. plans to redevelop the block at 404 Ward Ave. in Kakaako, including the two-story building shown here, into a 415-unit residential tower with commercial space and parking, the first project in its Ward Village master plan.

The Howard Hughes Corp. plans to redevelop the block at 404 Ward Ave. in Kakaako, including the two-story building shown here, into a 415-unit residential tower with commercial space and parking, the first project in its Ward Village master plan.

The Howard Hughes Corp. is finalizing plans for its 424-unit workforce housing residential tower planned for 404 Ward Ave. in Kakaako as part of its first phase of its Ward Village master plan, the Texas-based developer said this week in its second quarter earnings report.

As of June 30, The Howard Hughes Corp. has spent $3.8 million on development costs on the project, which will be located on what is the former site of the Kanpai Bar & Grill and the current California Rock ‘N Sushi.

The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC) said that 375 of the total number of units will be offered at prices lower than the market-rate luxury condo towers, Anaha and Waiea, as well as 404 Ward tower’s 49 market rate units.

The project also will include six levels of parking and about 23,000 square feet of retail space.

The Howard Hughes Corp. is expected to start construction on Anaha, the 311-unit luxury condo planned for the site of the old Pier 1 Imports store, later this year with a completion date scheduled for early 2017. As of June 30, it had spent $16.8 million on development costs for the project.

Waiea, which will have 171 luxury units, began construction in June on what was a surface parking lot next door to Ward Warehouse, is expected to be completed at the end of 2016. Thus far, The Howard Hughes Corp. has spent nearly $20 million on development costs for the Waiea project.

As of Aug. 1, about 65 percent of the 482 total units in the two towers — 71 percent in Waiea and 61 percent in Anaha — in these two towers have been contracted and passed their 30-day rescission period for which buyers have made non-refundable deposits.

This week, PBN first reported that The Howard Hughes Corp. will present to the Hawaii Community Development Authority in October its plan to build a 236-unit residential high-rise project that will include two towers at the 115,000-square-foot Ward Warehouse site as part of its second phase of its Ward Village master plan.

The developer also has plans to build another condo tower at the corner site of the existing Old Spaghetti Factory.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

The Howard Hughes Corp. to replace Ward Warehouse with condominium projects

The Howard Hughes Corp. plans to replace the Ward Warehouse shopping center in Honolulu with several condominium towers. The Texas-based developer plans to present the plans to the Hawaii Community Development Authority at a hearing on Oct. 1.

The Howard Hughes Corp. plans to replace the Ward Warehouse shopping center in Honolulu with several condominium towers. The Texas-based developer plans to present the plans to the Hawaii Community Development Authority at a hearing on Oct. 1.

The Howard Hughes Corp. will present plans this fall to replace the existing Ward Warehouse shopping center in Honolulu with a new 236-unit residential high-rise project that includes two towers, as well as commercial and recreation space as part of its second phase of its Ward Village master plan, the head of the Hawaii agency overseeing the redevelopment of the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako told PBN.

Anthony Ching, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, said that the Texas-based developer also has plans to build another condo tower at the corner site of the existing Old Spaghetti Factory, completing the entire replacement of the 115,000-square-foot Ward Warehouse, which was opened in 1975 by Victoria Ward Ltd. and is the current home to dozens of small businesses.

Race Randle, senior director of development for The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC), told PBN in an email that, consistent with its approved master plan, the developer is continuing its long-term planning efforts for the entire property to make Ward Village an integrated, sustainable master-planned community that will continue to be a gathering place for Honolulu.

Ward Warehouse tenants react to Howard Hughes plans to redevelop Honolulu center

“We are still early in the planning process for phase two and there are no immediate plans for Ward Warehouse,” he said. “Ward Warehouse will continue to be open and at such time as we are ready to proceed with redevelopment, we will work closely with our tenants to assist them in relocating within Ward Village or to another location in the area.”

Ching said that The Howard Hughes Corp.’s Ward Village master-plan calls for a potential of four towers — all with unobstructed views of the ocean overlooking the Kewalo Basin small boat harbor — for the Ward Warehouse site, as well as an urban park.

The HCDA has scheduled an Oct. 1 presentation hearing at noon at its office at 461 Cooke St. in Kakaako with two other hearings following the initial one for The Howard Hughes Corp.’s first Ward Warehouse condo project that includes two towers.

Located at 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., the address for Ward Warehouse, the two towers will rest on separate platform structures and have a combined total of 236 residential units, about 19,730-square-feet of commercial space, 42,178-square-feet of ground level open space, 80,242-square-feet of indoor and outdoor recreation space and 548 parking stalls.

The developer is asking the HCDA, which oversees the redevelopment of Kakaako, for four modifications, including to increase the maximum platform height to 65 feet with an allowance of an additional 15 feet in height for 15 percent of the roof area that will be used for accessory uses.

This project is part of The Howard Hughes Corp.’s second phase of its Ward Village plan, which planned to add more than 900 units in the first phase, which includes two mixed-use high-rises called Anaha and Waiea.

A third tower is in the works, which will be a mostly affordable residential tower with 415 units at 404 Ward Ave., the space where the former Kanpai Bar & Grill occupied, as well as California Beach Rock ‘N Sushi.

The Howard Hughes Corp. also is expected to present its plans soon for another mixed-use project as part of its second phase, which incorporates the new Whole Foods Market that will cover the entire block at Queen and Kamakee streets.

“The Whole Foods project was supposed to start the entitlement process in the third or fourth quarter of this year,” Ching said.

Project to build tallest building in Hawaii still in limbo

Forest City Hawaii has chosen Honolulu’s Nordic PCL Construction Inc. as the general contractor for the $500 million 690 Pohukaina mixed-use project in Kakaako.

A rendering of Forest City Hawaii’s 690 Pohukaina project in Honolulu

A rendering of Forest City Hawaii’s 690 Pohukaina project in Honolulu.

A rendering of Forest City Hawaii’s 690 Pohukaina project in Honolulu.

A rendering of Forest City Hawaii’s 690 Pohukaina project in Honolulu.

It’s been about a year since the developer of the 690 Pohukaina mixed-use project in Kakaako, which would be Hawaii’s tallest building at 650 feet, made any major moves.

In May 2013, Forest City Hawaii, which had been selected by the Hawaii Community Development Authority to develop the parcel on Pohukaina Street, announced that it had chosen Honolulu’s Nordic PCL Construction Inc. as the general contractor for the $500 million project. Additionally, Honolulu-based Ben Woo Architects LLC was chosen as its local architecture firm for the 800-unit rental project, which will include affordable and market-rate units.

Forest City Hawaii President Jon Wallenstrom has not returned several messages left by PBN.

But the HCDA, which oversees the developer of the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako, told PBN, through a spokeswoman, that it has not yet received an application from Forest City for a development permit for the project.

Lindsey Doi, spokeswoman for the state agency, said that last she heard was that the developer was still working out financing and other issues.

What’s more, is that given the passage this year of House Bill 1866(Act 61), which limits building heights in Kakaako to no higher than 418 feet, the project is still in the discussion phase between the state agency and the developer.

The 690 Pohukaina project was one of the first residential condominium projects announced at the start of the current Kakaako condo boom.

Since then, there have been several projects that have passed the Forest City project on the road to development, including Alexander & Baldwin’s The Collection, Stanford Carr and Kamehameha Schools’ Keahou Lane, The Howard Hughes Corp.’s Anaha and Waiea towers and Downtown Capital and Tradewind Capital’s 801 South Street project, just to name a few.

In December 2012, the HCDA unanimously selected Forest City Hawaii to develop 690 Pohukaina, which would be built on state land under a 65-year ground lease.

During that time, Forest City and the HCDA began an 18-month development process, which includes conducting an environmental assessment.

That 18-month period ended in May.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

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