A developer promised a “magnificent” addition to Waikiki about two years from now at a ceremony Tuesday for a planned rental apartment tower.
Dene Oliver, chief vision officer of mixed-use development for Canadian-based Brookfield Properties, said the 28-story tower with 402 mostly market-priced apartments will feature a full-service grocery store affiliated with Foodland Farms, other retail tenants and a garden around an existing banyan tree at the Kuhio Avenue site occupied by a Food Pantry store and other businesses until recently.
“When you’re all back here for the opening, your jaws are going to drop,” Oliver told the audience filled with project team members, government representatives and others gathered to bless the site for construction. “This is going to be a place like you haven’t seen before. It is truly going to be magnificent.”
The tower, named Lilia Waikiki, has been in planning and permitting stages for several years and will rise on about 2.5 acres between Walina and Kanekapolei streets leased for 65 years from an affiliate of The Queen’s Health Systems.
Construction is projected to finish in late 2021.
San Diego-based development firm OliverMcMillan began the project and was acquired by Brookfield last year.
Brookfield officials said Lilia will be the first rental apartment tower built in Waikiki in more than 20 years, and provide a new opportunity for many people who work in Oahu’s primary tourist resort area to live there, as short-term rentals won’t be allowed.
As part of the project, Brookfield is providing 91 residences that will be affordable to Hawaii residents earning no more than 80% of Honolulu’s median household income.
Of the 91 affordable rentals, 53 units will be in four existing low-rise buildings on the other side of Kanekapolei that were built in 1958 and are being renovated. These one- and two-bedroom units are projected to be ready for occupancy early next year, according to Kris Hui, mixed-use development vice president for Brookfield.
The 91 units satisfy city affordable-housing regulations and will be maintained as affordable housing for
Under city guidelines, maximum monthly rents would be $1,390 for studios, $1,563 for one-bedroom units and $2,067 for two-bedroom units if apartments were available this year.
Corresponding maximum tenant incomes equate to $67,500 for a single person, $77,150 for a couple and $96,400 for a family of four.
Hui said Brookfield expects to hold a lottery for the first 53 units around December. Applications for units in the tower, including 38 affordable studios, aren’t expected to be available until closer to project completion.
Kazu Muneko, a bellman at the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach hotel next to the tower project site, said living in Waikiki has its appeal. But he pays $800 a month to live in Hawaii Kai and said even the affordable rent at Lilia is too much for him.
“I would live in Waikiki but the prices are too high,” he said. “$1,300 for a studio — that’s a lot.”
Ariana Demery, a University of Hawaii-Manoa student living in the Waikiki Walina apartment building mauka of the Lilia site, misses Food Pantry but looks forward to a new grocery store opening and said she’s pleased that the tower to rise next door won’t be another hotel.
“Being for local people is a plus,” she said.
Lilia is the second new tower project to get underway in recent months within about three blocks.
Earlier this year Hilton Grand Vacations demolished the King’s Village retail complex about two blocks makai to make way for a 32-story timeshare tower with 191 units projected for completion at the end of 2021.
The Princess Kaiulani Hotel, just Ewa of the former King’s Village site, also is slated for redevelopment with 1,009 hotel rooms in a 33-story tower projected to break ground in mid-2022.
Redevelopment of the former Food Pantry site was contemplated together with redeveloping the International Market Place, which is also on Queen’s land. The redone marketplace opened in 2016 with anchor Saks Fifth Avenue.
Both the marketplace and Lilia projects will generate additional lease revenue that benefits Queen’s.
Les Goya, vice president of Queen Emma Land Co., the affiliate of the nonprofit health care organization that owns the Lilia site, said the tower will sustain and enhance the mission of Queen’s.
Hui said the development team selected the name Lilia, the Hawaiian word for lily, because it was a favorite flower of Queen Emma, who once had a garden on the site.
The city allowed the tower to exceed the 260-foot height limit for the site by
25 feet while also having 37% more density and slightly encroaching on transitional tower setbacks. The allowances were granted under a planned development permit, under which the developer could have sought to build as high as 350 feet on the site zoned for apartment-mixed use.
Brookfield declined to disclose a cost for Lilia but has said the 91 moderately priced units equate to a roughly $20 million community benefit.