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44-story condo faces fumigation

Residents of 352 units will move out while the building is treated

By Michael Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 12:14 a.m. HST, Aug 20, 2010


» General contractor Nordic PCL said problems at the Keola La'i condominium were likely caused by termites in the cabinetry installed in the units. The story below omits this information.


Residents of the Keola La'i condominium on Queen Street will spend a week away from home next month as the 2-year-old high-rise undergoes treatment for termites.

Chamber fumigation of the 44-story building that spans the 600 block of Queen Street in Kakaako is scheduled to take place between Sept. 12 and 18 to address moderate but worrisome termite activity during the last year.

"Not all residents have a problem," said Russell Gouveia, president of the Association of Apartment Owners of Keola La'i. "There are only a small number but that number has been growing. The ones that do have a problem have it to different degrees. The people I've talked to have found (termite) droppings here or there."

General contractor Nordic PCL is footing the sizable bill for the fumigation, relocation of residents of the building's 352 occupied units and related expenses. The building is managed by A&B Properties.

Displaced households have been given the option of accepting a one-week stay at a Waikiki hotel (including meals) and a $500 food-replacement gift card, or a lump sum payment between $3,350 (single occupant) and $4,000 (three or more occupants).

Nordic PCL also has agreed to hire bellmen to help tenants with their temporary move, caretakers to mind plants and aquariums, and housekeepers to vacuum apartments before residents return.

Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, which will handle the fumigation, will bring in two chamber fumigation experts from California to consult on the project. The company also has agreed to treat residents' new, incoming furniture for up to a year after the fumigation.

"As a company, we try to be positive and proactive," said Nordic PCL construction manager Rick Crago. "We'll fix it if we're responsible for it, and that's what we're doing."

Crago declined to specify how much the company will pay for the fumigation project.

Crago said the termites likely came from the cabinetry installed in the units. He also said  said the termites could have come either from furniture residents brought in or through the building's open windows, which don't have screens. Each apartment is equipped with cabinets constructed of milled wood that cannot be termite treated.

"Unfortunately, in Hawaii, where termites are so predominant, it's something we have to live with," Crago said.

Gouveia, who moved in to the condominium shortly after it opened in 2008, said he first started hearing reports of termites about a year ago. In May, the association met with representatives from A&B Properties and Nordic PCL, as well as a University of Hawaii entomologist, to discuss the possibility of fumigating the entire building. The association later hired another UH entomologist and held two open forums to discuss the proposal with residents.

"It was a very positive process," Gouveia said. "Everybody understood the situation and was onboard with what we wanted to do. Nordic really stepped up and there was no acrimony at all in the process."

(CORRECTION: An earlier version  of this story omitted the statement that the termites likely came from the cabinetry installed in the units.)

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