Hawaii agency board chief explains Symphony Honolulu condo glass issue decision

Symphony HonoluluA Hawaii agency’s decision to let San Diego-based developer OliverMcMillan proceed with its Symphony Honolulu condominium tower without making changes to the building’s glass curtain came down to a standard it could not defend, the agency board’s chief told PBN.

“It would’ve been just suits and countersuits,” John Whalen, chair of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, told PBN after Wednesday’s decision. “It would’ve been a total mess. If we had a standard that we could defend, it would be a different story.”

The HCDA, which regulates development in Kakaako, reached a $1 million settlement this week with OliverMcMillan over the agency’s existing “glass rule” for its Symphony Honolulu condo tower, which is being built at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue across from the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. The building has a completion date scheduled for March 2016.

“They offered it right before the hearing,” Whalen said, noting that he would like to have the money address the concerns that were brought up regarding the glare coming from the windows. “My first thought is to use it to plant a lot more trees and create park space because it helps mitigate the heat effect.”

The glass rule requires that current condo projects in Kakaako have a measured visible light transmission level of at least 50 percent, but the glass installed on the Symphony project has a visible light transmission level of less than 50 percent, which has prompted testimony about glare.

“Not sure if they self-reported, but when asked to supply data [regarding the glass windows], they admitted that they haven’t complied,” Whalen said. “That’s what the developer had apologized for.”

OliverMcMillan accepted the state agency’s decision, agreeing to add $1 million to its existing public facilities dedication fee, which now stands at $3.6 million. The HCDA also ruled that OliverMcMillan must reimburse the state agency for $24,000 in consulting services and pay a $2,000 fine for failing to correct the violation.

“How do you make something beneficial out of a really nasty situation?” Whalen asked. “It’s sort of like, our point is not to inflict pain, but solve problems.”

He admits that the glass rule is a procedural and regulatory issue that needs to be addressed.

Next month, the HCDA will hold public hearings to address a glass issue for another Kakaako condo, which was developed by Downtown Capital LLC.

However, Whalen pointed out that the circumstances dealing with the 801 South St. affordable condo project are somewhat different from the Symphony project, mainly because the glass windows are much smaller at 801 South St.

“It’s [still] non-compliance of a standard,” he said.

Duane Shimogawa
Reporter
Pacific Business News

Hawaii agency delays decision on high-rise ‘glass rule’ for OliverMcMillan’s Symphony Honolulu condo tower

Symphony HonoluluThe Hawaii Community Development Authority on Wednesday delayed until next week making a decision on a “glass rule” for Kakaako high-rise projects regarding an issue with OliverMcMillan’s Symphony Honolulu mixed-use condominium tower.

The board of the state agency regulating development in the Honolulu neighborhood was to vote on a decision at a meeting on Wednesday, but after a little more than an hour of deliberating in executive session, the board’s chair, John Whalen, said members needed more time to come to a decision.

The HCDA decided to continue the hearing, which could include a decision on the glass rule, to Aug. 12 at 1 p.m.

Symphony Honolulu is currently being built at the corner of Ward Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard across from the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, and is expected to be completed in less than a year.

OliverMcMillan is requesting that the HCDA waive or permanently suspend the existing glass rule as it pertains to its Symphony project, as well as suspend the rule for Kakaako in general. The glass rule requires that current condo projects in Kakaako have a measured visible light transmission level of at least 50 percent.

Symphony is being built with a visible light transmission level of less than 50 percent. The project’s development permit was approved for the current glass that is being installed, although the HCDA did not take into account the area’s glass rule.

The San Diego-based developer said that the implementation of the glass rule has resulted in an unfortunate set of circumstances preventing development projects from satisfying HCDA-mandated minimum energy savings under the current set of rules.

“The unintended consequences of the glass rule places it in a direct conflict with and contrary to the goals and requirements of the Mauka Area Rules’ Green Building Section, which mandates that projects meet at least the base LEED standards,” OliverMcMillan said in its testimony to the HCDA. “The glass rule has unintentionally imposed an undesirable development pattern on Kakaako projects, mandating the use of glass that is far less energy efficient than other readily available alternatives. This directly conflicts with the Green Building section of the authority’s rules, increasing every project’s drain on [their] natural resources by raising the cooling costs for all buildings in Kakaako.”

The developer also said that the glass rule makes it impossible for a project with a window-wall design, such as Symphony Honolulu, to meet both the glass rule and the required LEED minimum.

“The rule also states to provide views out of and into the building,” OliverMcMillan said. “This is particularly discouraging to future residents looking to live in Kakaako as any planned buildings will be located in an area already occupied by other high-rises.”

Those who testified against the changing of the glass rule contend that it may set precedent for other developers, and that OliverMcMillan should have followed the rules.

Duane Shimogawa
Reporter
Pacific Business News

OliverMcMillan pays $26M for Symphony Honolulu condo project land

This rendering shows the Symphony Honolulu condominium, which is being developed by San Diego-based OliverMcMillan.

This rendering shows the Symphony Honolulu condominium, which is being developed by San Diego-based OliverMcMillan.

OliverMcMillan has purchased the little more than three-acre parcel across from the Neal S. Blaisdell Center where the San Diego-based developer is currently building the Symphony Honolulu luxury condominium tower, according to public records.

OliverMcMillan, which formed Honolulu-based OliverMcMillan Pacific Rim LLC, paid JN Group Inc. and Casti Family LP $26 million for the property at 888 Kapiolani Blvd. The sale closed on July 30.

The 388-unit, 45-story Symphony Honolulu project, which is under construction at the corner of Ward Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard and is expected to be completed in less than a year, gained headlines recently regarding an issue dealing with its glass windows.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, which regulates development in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako, is deciding whether to waive, permanently suspend, or uphold the area’s existing glass rule as it pertains to the Symphony project.

Symphony is being built with a visible light transmission level of less than 50 percent. The project’s development permit was approved for the current glass that is being installed, although the HCDA did not take into account the area’s glass rule.
The developer said that the implementation of the glass rule has resulted in an unfortunate set of circumstances preventing development projects from satisfying HCDA-mandated minimum energy savings under the current set of rules.

The HCDA, which has delayed making a final decision on the issue three times, has set a decision-making hearing for Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.

Symphony will include commercial space on its lower floors, including an automobile showroom for JN Automotive Group.

Duane Shimogawa
Reporter
Pacific Business News

Symphony Honolulu’s glass facade not transparent enough

HONOLULU —The Symphony Honolulu highrise at the corner of Kapiolani and Ward is on track to open next spring.

90 percent of the units already sold. Crews have installed glass up on the 35th floor with just a few stories remaining.

But as it turns out, the glass doesn’t meet the proper transparency standard set by the Hawaii Community Authority.

It’s what engineers and architects refer to as VLT (Visual Light Transmission).

The developer, Oliver McMillan, is hoping to get a waiver because it chose a darker, more reflective glass to keep the units cooler.

“More privacy, better energy efficiency. Unfortunately, we can’t achieve that with glass that is 50 percent VLT or greater, so that’s why we chose the glass that we did,” said Oliver McMillan’s Dan Nishikawa.

Some Kakaako residents don’t think HCDA should grant the waiver. They say all you have to do is look around.

“We are building more buildings with glass surfaces, and the concentration of light will be much greater in certain areas of downtown. I think the heat index will rise to a point it will be uncomfortable for area residents and visitors,” said Kakaako resident John Kobelansky.

HCDA said the whole idea behind the rule change was to avoid building more buildings with a ‘Darth Vader’ look.

Staff maintains there isn’t a conflict in the new mauka area rules, but board members questioned whether there’s a standard for reflectivity since they were told less light streaming into an apartment unit doesn’t mean less light reflected out.

In the case of the glass in the Symphony highrise, the mistake wasn’t caught until a competitor flagged it and HCDA checked.

“It’s really important to understand how you are going to enforce it,especially when it’s something that is not being applied to other buildings outside of Kakaako, and this is something brand new,” said Board Chairman John Whalen.

“If sustainability, energy efficiency is really important, we may want to take a look at reviewing the VLT and come up with a parameter that balances energy savings with other elements we are trying to achieve,” said HCDA’s Deepak Neupane.

So, it could be back to the drawing board on the new glass rule.

The HCDA is scheduled to make a decision on the Symphony high rise waiver on August 5th.

 

 

OliverMcMillan’s Symphony Honolulu high-rise condo 90 percent sold

This rendering shows the Symphony Honolulu condominium, which is being developed by San Diego-based OliverMcMillan.

This rendering shows the Symphony Honolulu condominium, which is being developed by San Diego-based OliverMcMillan.

San Diego-based developer OliverMcMillan, which began construction on its Symphony Honolulu luxury condominium project in late 2013, has sold 90 percent of the units in this project, which is expected to be completed in less than a year, the firm’s CEO said this week.

The project, being developed on 3.35 acres at 888 Kapiolani Blvd. across from the Blaisdell Center, includes 388 units in a 45-story tower, with commercial space on lower floors, including an automobile showroom for JN Automotive Group.

Dene Oliver, CEO of OliverMcMillan, the keynote speaker of the International Council of Shopping Centers Hawaii event in Waikiki, said that he plans to own and live in a unit at Symphony Honolulu. He also has lived in a unit at another OliverMcMillian project, Pacifica condominium in Honolulu.

The firm has recently opened a Hawaii regional office in Downtown Honolulu at Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower.

It also has offices in Atlanta, Houston and a showroom in New York.

Alan Ong, former chief operating officer of Hunt Development Group’s Hawaii Division, has recently joined OliverMcMillan as its regional manager of its Hawaii operations.

When asked by PBN about new projects the firm is working on, Ong declined to specify.

The developer, through its former Hawaii regional manager, previously told PBN that it is eyeing several other projects in Hawaii.

OliverMcMillan has been chosen to develop a nearly 27-acre parcel in Kapolei in West Oahu into a 400-unit mixed-use residential project.

Ong, who was in attendance at the ICSC event, told PBN that it is working on the planning and design of this project.
Duane Shimogawa
Reporter
Pacific Business News

San Diego-based developer OliverMcMillan eyeing other Hawaii development projects

This rendering shows the Symphony Honolulu condominium, which is being developed by San Diego-based OliverMcMillan.

This rendering shows the Symphony Honolulu condominium, which is being developed by San Diego-based OliverMcMillan.

OliverMcMillan, the San Diego-based firm developing the Symphony Honolulu condominium project, is opening a Hawaii regional office next month and is in negotiations for two new development projects in the Islands outside of Honolulu, the head of the company’s Hawaii office told PBN.

One of the projects is a condominium and the other a mixed-use urban village, according to Serge Krivatsy, managing director of OliverMcMillan’s Hawaii office. The firm also is looking at developing projects in Kapolei and on the Neighbor Islands, he said.

“We’re looking at stuff in town and in Kapolei,” he said.

Krivatsy told PBN that the firm is eyeing three to four deals, with one or two being a condo project and another a potential apartment complex for renters.

“We’re looking at unique stuff, not projects where there are 20 others looking at it,” he told PBN. “We’re definitely to where we are in an [upward] market cycle, [but] we are cautious about the sites and projects we are looking at. The things we are looking at, we still think we have time to be in a good position to execute.”

OliverMcMillan, which acquired and completed the Pacifica condominium in Honolulu, the former Moana Vista project, several years ago, is opening its Hawaii regional office at Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower in Downtown Honolulu.

It also has offices in Atlanta and Houston and a showroom in New York.

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

OliverMcMillan puts 10 penthouses on the market at Symphony Honolulu

OliverMcMillan puts 10 penthouses on the market at Symphony Honolulu

Bill Cresenzo Reporter – Pacific Business News

OliverMcMillan Pacific Rim LLC has put 10 penthouses at its 388-unit 45-story Symphony Honoulu condo project on the market with prices that start at $1.56 million.

The company said Wednesday that the largest the penthouses at 888 Kapiolani Boulevard is 2,053 square feet.

All of the penthouses have floor-to-ceiling windows, and some have 10-foot ceilings. They also have white oak flooring, kitchens with Thermador applicances, stone and marble bathrooms and ocean views, the company said.

OliverMcMillian broke ground last year on the project, which should be ready by 2016. It is 75 percent sold, the company said.

OliverMcMillan, in partnership with JN Automotive Group, will offer residents a car service called Velocity Premier Auto Concierge, which will allow them to use cars such as Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini.

OliverMcMillan breaks ground on Symphony Honolulu condominium project

Nov 20, 2013, 2:58pm HST
Duane Shimogawa Reporter  |  Pacific Business News

OliverMcMillan Pacific Rim LLC began construction Wednesday on its 388-unit, 45-story Symphony Honolulu mixed-use condominium tower at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue, across from the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu’s Kakaako neighborhood.

sym_CaptureMore than 150 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the project, which is located on 3.35 acres at 888 Kapiolani Blvd.

“Kakaako is a very exciting urban location, offering so much in exciting activities, location and culture,” OliverMcMillan CEO Dene Oliver said in a statement. “We’ve created spacious, artfully designed condominiums that appeal to the Hawaii market and where residents can make a home for years to come.”

Earlier this month, the developer said that First Hawaiian Bank is the lead bank among four lenders on a $120 million construction loan for the project.

Other lenders included Central Pacific Bank, American Savings Bank and the Washington Capital Joint Master Trust Mortgage income fund.

The condo tower will include market-rate and reserved residential units, as well as commercial space on the lower floors, including an automobile showroom for JN Automotive Group.

San Diego-based OliverMcMillan expects construction of Symphony Honolulu to take about 25 months to complete.

About 70 percent of the available units were sold within the first two days of sales, which began in June.

Company Disclaimer: Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.