HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kobayashi Group decided to start unit sales at ONE Ala Moana after a full page newspaper ad that was to have run Monday ran on Friday instead.
"It was originally planned to open next Tuesday," said Joyce Timpson of Joyce Timpson & Associates. "However the Star Advertiser ran the ad today instead of Monday." The ad is supposed to provide 24-hour notice of unit sales to prospective owner-occupants.
The inadvertent early running of the ad brought scores of interested buyers, who starting lining up at the sales office at the Hokua Condominiums at 4 a.m. "We had to mobilize the troops instantly," said Kathy Inouye, Kobayashi Group COO and partner. "We woke everyone up, we tried to get the sales people down here."
At its peak, developers said there were about 160 people waiting in line for units that start at $500,000 and run to $3.6 million. There also are four penthouse units with prices topping $8.8 million, with one of them already sold.
"They were prepared to stand in line for four days," said Inouye. "I think that tells you a lot about the demand and the desire for a unit in this building."
The project has been closely watched because the speed with which its units sell could signal how rapidly the Hawaii economy is recovering. Developers said the high turnout showed that there's a pent-up demand for luxury high-rise units.
ONE Ala Moana also is drawing buyers from Asia, including China. "I think there are more flights to Hawaii from China now, number one," said BJ Kobayashi of the Kobayashi Group. "And number two, I think they like the fact that this project is right in Ala Moana Shopping Center, and a lot of our Chinese visitors do enjoy the high-end retail experience at Ala Moana."
One Ala Moana is the condo tower to be built over the Nordstrom parking garage on the mauka side of Ala Moana Center. The parking garage had been designed to support the weight of a condo tower over it. The fact that the garage already exists means this is one condo project not likely to be delayed by unexpected issues underground.
Kobayashi also said there may be a heightened interest in the project because there are only 206 units in the building, half of which are up for sale to owner-occupants. Many of the other units have already been sold.
Those who were lined up were given tokens to reserve their places, and the sales will start earlier. "We consulted with a few of our attorneys, and they suggested just to be on the safe side, since there were already people in line, that we start sales within 24 hours," said Inouye. So sales will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.
"This is the beginning of the real estate boom in Hawaii," said Eddie Flores, CEO of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, who has a background in banking and real estate and teaches. "I have been telling my students that."
If sales go well, developers said construction could be completed as early as the end of 2014.