Kamehameha Schools releases plans for Kakaako redevelopment

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kamehameha Schools will begin the first phase of its master-planned community in Kakaako by creating new, loft-style rental apartments in what is currently an office building.

The school has hired Architects Hawaii to design the renovation of 680 Ala Moana Boulevard and plans to complete construction by the end of 2012. Concurrently, Kamehameha is conducting archaeological studies on two additional parcels within the nine-block master plan area. Information from those studies, as well as other market research, will guide the school as it solidifies redevelopment plans.

The building's approximately 54 units will be reserved for renters who earn up to Honolulu's median income and will fulfill a portion of the Hawaii Community Development Authority's "reserved housing" requirement for the schools' Kaiaulu 'o Kakaako master plan. Kamehameha expects rents will be at or below figures that are set by state reserved housing laws.

"This is a unique opportunity to provide newly constructed rental housing to Honolulu's working families The project aligns perfectly with Kamehameha's vision of Kakaako as a robust and diverse neighborhood," said Kamehameha Schools' commercial real estate director Paul Quintiliani.

The apartment complex at 680 Ala Moana Boulevard will also include 7,600 square feet of ground floor commercial space. The existing concrete structure will be re-configured to feature a new spacious and modern look featuring 11-foot open ceilings with the newest style of exposed building conduits, stained concrete floors and double-paned windows to block out street noise. A planned rooftop deck will showcase views of Diamond Head and Kewalo Basin.

"We think the location and layout of these apartments will be attractive to young professionals who work in downtown as well as students and faculty from the neighboring John A. Burns School of Medicine and the future Cancer Research Center," said Quintiliani. "As we begin to fill the neighborhood with residents and businesses that cater to those residents, Kamehameha is planting the seeds of a new community."

The building's conversion is Kamehameha's first redevelopment project in the Kakaako district since its Kaiaulu 'o Kakaako master plan was approved by the Hawaii Community Development Authority in September 2009. Over the next 15 years, Kamehameha expects to transition Kakaako away from older office and industrial uses into a vibrant and diverse, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with tree-lined thoroughfares, unique and local manufacturing and retail, and open community gathering spaces.

Under the terms of a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between Kamehameha and 19 trade unions, the school will employ local, unionized labor for the project.

"It's historic to achieve an agreement of this magnitude with Kamehameha Schools," said Lance Yoshimura of the Hawaii Carpenters' Union Local 745. "Their master-planned project in Kakaako will help Hawaii's economy recover by employing thousands of workers during and after the redevelopment. Our gratitude goes out to Kamehameha Schools for their innovative thinking and open-mindedness, and we look forward to continue working together in the future."

"It's exciting to see that there are organizations like Kamehameha Schools that, despite the tough economy, are taking the initiative to invest in the future of our state," added William "Buzzy" Hong, executive director of the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council. "We are proud to be a partner in this collaborative effort, and we are committed to providing the necessary highly skilled-workforce to ensure the success of this and future projects."

Kamehameha expects to start construction at 680 Ala Moana Boulevard by early 2012.

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