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Kakaako towers need closer look


The state agency that decides on development of Kakaako has revealed competing plans for a 650-foot residential tower that would be by far Hawaii's tallest. Information that had been concealed were released last week to the public, an encouraging first step, but myriad more details will be needed in order for citizens to render informed support or concerns.

The plan for 690 Pohukaina St. is huge. The tower would be far taller than Hawaii's present highest — the 438-foot First Hawaiian Center building. The Hawaii Community Development Authority has the power to exempt projects from the city's 400-foot quasi building lid, and it has plans to allow development of numerous other structures between Restaurant Row and Ala Moana.

HCDA has scheduled a Nov. 20 hearing to receive testimony in response to competing plans by Ohio-based Forest City Enterprises Inc. and Australia-based Lend Lease, both with experience in Hawaii development. The public should note that the just-released proposals could change by Nov. 16, the deadline for the developers to submit their best-and-final offers. The agency's board is expected to choose a winning plan on Dec. 13.

Public access to the plans submitted by the two companies at this point is encouraging after HCDA indicated initially that they would not be accessible to the public until December or January. Now, conceptual designs can be viewed at hcda-public-consultation.org — but important details such as the housing-affordability mix, justification for exceeding height limits and commercial-community space will be the critical factors beyond the futuristic visuals.

The concept behind 690 Pohukaina is supported by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has described it as "sustainable urban density." Four of his department directors and several of his community representatives are on the HCDA board.

In this case, the bidders are highly capable. Forest City, which has assets of $10.5 billion, built two of the 10 largest skyscrapers in New York City, including an 870-foot tower that is recognized as the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere. It is involved in Navy and Marine Corps housing construction on Oahu.

Lend Lease says it has constructed more than 450 residential buildings worth $16 billion in America, and is building military housing at Hickam Air Force Base and Aliamanu Military Reservation.

Forest City's initial three drawing options include one 650-foot tower and another consisting of a pair of towers rising up to 560 feet or 400 feet. The Lend Lease plan consists of two towers, one 650 feet high and the other reaching 400 feet.

HCDA says the tall buildings will result in significant affordable housing. About half the 1,002 units in the Lend Lease plan would be available to buyers with an upper end income of about $80,000 for singles or $114,240 for a family of four, with maximum sales prices of nearly $400,000 for one person and just over $550,000 for a family of four. Maximum monthly rental rates would be about $2,000 for a studio to $3,000 for a three-bedroom apartment.

All of Forest City's units would be rentals but few details have yet emerged.

The winning tower complex would be a major beginning of what the HCDA sees as 16 buildings in Kakaako 400 feet tall or more. The Pohukaina towers are to be completed by 2018 if market conditions are favorable. Testimony over the next two months will be extremely useful in determining whether the plans are as favorable to the public as they are to the Abercrombie administration.

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mainland_refugee wrote:
$2,000 for a studio to $3,000 for a three-bedroom apartment... doesn't sound very affordable to me!
on November 1,2012 | 05:34AM
loquaciousone wrote:
This sounds like Guy Hagi's CHEAP EATS where his "cheap" plate lunches cost $11.50.
on November 1,2012 | 07:15AM
false wrote:
yeah cheap if you're getting it for free. LOL
on November 1,2012 | 12:05PM
allie wrote:
on November 1,2012 | 09:59AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Well, if those new Nordstrom condos at ONE Ala Moana are going to sell up to $9 million like the other article says, these prices are absolute bargains!
on November 1,2012 | 12:22PM
Bdpapa wrote:
They are just too big!
on November 1,2012 | 05:59AM
cojef wrote:
Like rabbit hutches or cracker boxes, take your pick. Decent living space at very high premium. Further the infra-structure, such as water, sewers, thrash and fire protection are being stretched beyond what can be considered prudent. Lolo projects, even the Nordstrom project is quite small units for a half a million bucks.
on November 1,2012 | 03:00PM
bender wrote:
Like PLDC, the Hawaii Community Development Authority should be repealed. They've served their purpose but now has become the frontman for developers. We already have zoning rules and other laws that can regulate building in the area. And it's about home rule. We don't need a state agency controlling the development agenda in Kakaako or any other part of Oahu or Hawaii.
on November 1,2012 | 06:00AM
allie wrote:
yup..you got it
on November 1,2012 | 10:00AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Was this written by a child? The opening paragraph is in the passive voice, and there is subject verb disagreement between "information" and "were."

And this room temperature dreck was written by the SA's editors?!?!

This project waiver and the PLDC love-fest between developers and politicians is bad for Hawaii. It deserves a better editorial than this mess.
on November 1,2012 | 06:48AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
When you see "PLDC", think PEDDLING - because that will be the result of this bad act. Peddling public assets to cozy insider deals. Governor! Stop PEDDLING our lands and properties.
on November 1,2012 | 08:43AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Information that had been concealed -- Now why does that phrase sound so familiar?
on November 1,2012 | 07:12AM
In all the grandiose plans for Kakaako, including the Ward properties, all I ever see is huge buildings. Thousands of units, 4,000 at Ward alone, but where are the parks, the schools, the grocery stores? Can't we build neighborhoods where people really live? Instead we are still planning using an outdated "mixed-use" concept which results in a shopping mall surrounded by high rises. People will still live there because that will be the only choice they have, but why can't we create places they will love to live in?
on November 1,2012 | 07:37AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I like their concept of cheap affordable housing starting at $2000 a month for a studio.
on November 1,2012 | 07:50AM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF HAWAII, ARTICLE IX, Section 6.  MANAGEMENT OF STATE POPULATION GROWTH.  The State and its political subdivisions, as provided by general law, shall plan and manage the growth of the population to protect and preserve the public health and welfare; except that each political subdivision, as provided by general law, may plan and manage the growth of its population in a more restrictive manner than the State. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]
on November 1,2012 | 08:05AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Why is Abs pushing a 650' monstrosity when developers seem just fine with 16-29 condos at 400 feet? The smart money says this is to break down the current height restrictions so that all new condos have a precedent for requesting a variance to height. Once we breech the 450' limit, everybody will ask for a variance and as we know, the HCDA gives every developer exactly what they want.
on November 1,2012 | 08:45AM
allie wrote:
It will be grotesque. Especially when the belching rail roars by. I feel sorry for the people who will have to live here in the next 10 eyars
on November 1,2012 | 10:01AM
false wrote:
A rail stop somewhere around there?
on November 1,2012 | 12:07PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Not any more. Rail is dead.
on November 1,2012 | 12:23PM
false wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 1,2012 | 08:48AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
No. It seems most can't figure out why we need to allow 650' buildings. There are roughly 29 towers planned in Kaka'ako by Hughes and KS - they are 400 footers and are offering affordable units (even though that is a shibai). Why do we need a 650' tower? It is out of character to the area, huge burden on infrastructure, intrusive and unnecessary.
on November 1,2012 | 10:20AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I suspect that that guy that just jumped out of a space ship needs some place high enough to test out his new and improved space suit.
on November 1,2012 | 02:41PM
islandsun wrote:
Seems like the public has no say with this group of sellout politicians.
on November 1,2012 | 10:01AM
Bdpapa wrote:
what comment approval!
on November 1,2012 | 11:22AM
false wrote:
This is the flagship for PDLC. Unless something happens its going to go. I think its a done deal.
on November 1,2012 | 12:04PM
false wrote:
A good tsunami will fix all those towers in Kakaako. Don't hold your breath. It will come. How much fill is there on that reef bed?
on November 2,2012 | 05:17AM
Slow wrote:
The Friends of Kewalo spearheaded the drive to preserve the open waterfront that Alexander & Baldwin wanted to develop with high rise condos. Then Neil Blabbercrombie gave the property to OHA to repay the Hawaiians. Repayment is decades overdue but please tell me how empty acreage benefits the Hawaiians. Golly, maybe we could right back and build the towers, pay off the developers and unions and give the profits to the Hawaiians. Let's start by putting Blabbercrombie's 650 foot building right there on the waterfront. A fitting monument to a 650 foot ego.
on November 2,2012 | 08:33AM
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