The story behind the cancellation of luxury condo Vida at 888 Ala Moana

The story behind Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group’s cancellation earlier this year of their Vida at 888 Ala Moana luxury high-rise condominium project started many months before the developers decided to ultimately nix the development.

B.J. Kobayashi, co-founder and partner of Kobayashi Group, who was a panelist at a commercial real estate industry event this week, said that they should’ve listened to his brother, Patrick, partner, president and CEO of the family-owned development firm, who four months before the final decision was made, first thought about stopping the project.

“It was really tough,” B.J. said. “We called every single homeowner and got their deposits back to them in four days. It’s the first time we had to shelve a project. The design was incredible.”

At the end of the day, though, what ultimately caused the two developers to cancel Vida was their rising costs, with Kobayashi noting that bids for their Park Lane Ala Moana project and King’s Village project came in three to four times higher than their Hokua condo project that was built 10 years ago.

Kobayashi also noted that Texas-based developer The Howard Hughes Corp.’s two luxury towers being built nearby may have also contributed the slow sales of Vida.

“My brother, Patrick, first raised his hand,” B.J. said. “One day, we were all in a conference room and we were looking at all kinds of scenarios to save it. My brother was right.”

Despite the cancellation of Vida, Kobayashi pointed out that there are a couple of sites that the two firms are looking at possibly developing, and one of those sites could be a high-rise project. The developers have already built the Hokua condo project in Kakaako and ONE Ala Moana near Ala Moana Center.

The firms are currently in various development phases for two condo projects in Honolulu, including Park Lane Ala Moana, which is under construction at the state’s largest shopping mall, and the 133 Kaiulani condo-hotel project in Waikiki at the former King’s Village site.

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