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City council votes to support senior affordable rental project


    The Honolulu City Council voted today to support the plan for a city-sponsored rental tower for seniors on River Street in Chinatown.

The developer of a senior affordable rental tower in Chinatown won a major victory today when the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to support a development agreement for its River Street project.

The 151-unit Halewaiolu Senior Residences is on about an acre of city land between Kukui Street and Vineyard Boulevard. An older, two-story commercial building would be demolished.

Besides affordable rentals, the project is to include a community center. Supporters of the project, including the Downtown Neighborhood Board, say both the affordable rentals and the community center are badly needed, and that the project will breathe new life into one of the darker sections of Chinatown.

Michaels Development Co. is relying on various federal and state subsidies and loans to make the project pencil out.

To qualify to live at the tower, prospective renters would need to be at least 62 years old with annual income not exceeding 80 percent of Oahu’s area median income, what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines as the “low income” category. In 2016, 80 percent median income for a single person is $56,350. For two people, it’s $64,400.

Many of the units would be aimed at people earning less than that, Michaels representatives said.

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