HCDA grants variance for Symphony Tower

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - A rendering shows how the 400-foot tall Symphony Tower condominium building will fit on the three-acre site across from the Blaisdell Arena. Developer OliverMcMillan wants to set the long side of the building parallel to Kapiolani Boulevard instead of Ward Avenue.

OliverMcMillan Pacific Rim president Dan Nishikawa said if the long side faced Ward Avenue, the company would have to build around an underground stream. And there would be other drawbacks.

"Our blockage of solar panels would have been about a fifty percent loss on our solar production," Nishikawa said. "There's also site constraints with view corridors along Kapiolani and also along Ward Avenue that played into it."

A new rule prefers that long sides of towers built in the Kakaako district parallel mauka-makai streets.

At a meeting of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, some Kakaako residents urged the board to deny the developer's request for a variance.

"The concern is it's just a slap-sided building, which maximizes the views for the occupants at the expense of the other people, the people uphill and makai of the building. It blocks their views," said Rick Beall, whose condo at One Archer Lane faces the lot where the tower would sit.

HCDA voted 10 to 1 to grant the variance, saying the placement of the tower to face Kapiolani Boulevard won't alter the neighborhood's character.

"Kapiolani corridor, that particular neighborhood, is considered to be a high value that has allowances for high-rise construction," HCDA executive director Tony Ching said.

The $380-million project will include 100 workforce housing units and an 80,000 square foot auto showroom.

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