Kakaako residents want tower plan halved at the 801 South Street project

Kakaako residents want tower plan halved at the 801 South Street project. via @staradgomes Honolulu Star Advertiser…………..

One tower is OK but two towers are too much.

That’s the view of a group of residents in Kaka­ako’s Royal Capital Plaza condominium tower, next door to the proposed site for two 400-foot towers called 801 South St.

Royal Capital residents have launched a campaign to try to stop the second of two towers proposed for 801 South, forming the group Kaka­‘ako Cares and staging protest rallies the last two Fridays in front of the project site at the Ewa end of Kapiolani Boulevard at South Street.

On Wednesday the group is expected to argue against the tower plan at the first of two public hearings held by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency regulating development in Kaka­ako.

The general idea for 801 South was announced a year ago, and HCDA approved a permit in December for the first tower, which began construction in May.

Detailed plans for the second tower were publicized last month after project developer Downtown Capitol LLC, a firm led by local affordable-housing builder Marshall Hung, submitted a permit application to HCDA.

This is the third time this year that residents of an existing high-rise condo in Kaka­ako have organized and opposed a planned tower project on an adjacent parcel.

One instance involved Imperial Plaza residents opposing a project called 803 Wai­manu in which a developer sought to build closer to Imperial Plaza than permitted under HCDArules. In that case the agency rejected the plan.

The second instance involved residents of One Waterfront Towers opposing a project called The Collection. HCDAapproved this plan, though the opposition group calling itself Kaka­‘ako United has appealed the agency’s decision.

Complaints about residential density in Kaka­ako are only expected to increase as developers push ahead with plans to add more than 30 towers over the next decade or two in the area bounded by Ala Moana Boulevard and King, Pii­koi and Punchbowl streets.

Jesse Allen, a real estate agent and spokes­man for Kaka­‘ako Cares, said in a statement that two towers and a pair of separate 100-foot-tall parking garages will overwhelm the 3-acre site that is also partially occupied by a historic building constructed in 1929 for The Hono­lulu Advertiser newspaper.

“My neighbors of all ages, both kama­aina and newcomer, decided that was too much development for a scenic gateway to Kaka­ako and historically significant block,”Allen said.

He also argued that proposed prices for some units in the second tower won’t qualify as “workforce” housing under an HCDArule that the developer is using to double the normal maximum density allowed on the site.

The rule, adopted in 2011, allows twice as much density for projects that receive no government financial assistance and make at least 75 percent of units affordable to residents earning between 100 and 140 percent of Hono­lulu’s annual median income.

The workforce housing rule has been touted as a new tool to help produce moderate-priced housing in Hono­lulu, where housing prices consistently rank as the highest or almost highest among major cities.

Hung has said all the units in 801 South’s first 635-unit tower and second 410-unit tower will be within HCDA’s workforce housing parameters.

The income limit ranges depending on family size. For a single person the limit is $84,574. For a family of four the limit is $120,820. For a family of six the limit is $140,151.

Units in 801 South’s first tower were priced from $250,000 to $550,000 for studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom condos. The second tower is planned for larger units with one to three bedrooms priced from $360,000 to about $690,000. Of the 410 units planned in the second tower, 45 have three bedrooms and uppermost prices.

Guidelines used by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., a state agency that assists with affordable-housing development, say a roughly $700,000 home is affordable to a family of six earning about $140,000 based on a 5 percent down payment and an interest rate of 4.5 percent on a 30-year loan.

Allen contends that prices in the second tower are too high for buyers earning a maximum 140 percent of Hono­lulu’s median income.

“This isn’t a project for teachers, nurses and policemen,”he said in the statement. “This is designed for their most senior managers.”

Allen said Kaka‘ako Cares welcomes future neighbors in 801 South’s first tower. “The market determined our status, with no double density and other bonuses,”he said. “We’re in the same boat; our salaries and our apartment prices are roughly the same.”

Downtown Capital representatives dispute the opposition group’s contentions, saying that its project is for teachers and policemen and suggesting that Royal Capital residents only want to preserve their views.

The developer said the need for moderate-priced homes on Oahu is overwhelming, and said about 6,000 prospective buyers picked up applications in March for its first tower, which is sold out.

HCDA’s board will be considering several requests by Downtown Capital to deviate from agency rules, the biggest of which is to build a detached parking garage 107 feet high. The height limit for such structures is 45 feet.

The agency allowed Downtown Capital to build a 102-foot parking garage next to its first tower. The developer said building a separate garage would save $10 million and was necessary to deliver units in the moderate price range.

A decision by HCDAis slated to be made following a second public hearing scheduled for Dec. 4.


>> When: Wednesday, 9 a.m.

>> Where: 461 Cooke St., Hawaii Community Development Authority