New Kaka'ako highrise development planned - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New Kaka'ako highrise development planned

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

For more than two decades, the parking lot at 555 South St. has remained undeveloped, a grim reminder of the collapse of the Japanese bubble economy.

But now landowner Kamehameha Schools and developer Stanford Carr plan to build a 40-story tower and more than 150 affordable rentals at the former Waterpark Tower site, in an attempt to ride the current economic boom.

"We're trying to build a neighborhood. Much more so than a collection of infill projects," said Paul Kay, director of Kamehameha Schools commercial real estate division.

"So when we look at it from a neighborhood perspective, we're trying to bring in a diversity of incomes and a diversity of people."

Kay provided some of the details of the four-acre project during an Waikiki gathering sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The developers will hold a news conference tomorrow with Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Kay says the townhouse rentals will be build for median income residents. Prices could range between $1,000 for a studio to about $1,700 for a three-bedroom unit. Carr will develop about 400 for-sale units and about 40 percent of them will be available for middle-income buyers.

The project will also include retail space and a grocery store and will have a walking path in the middle of it, a reconstruction of the historic Keauhou Lane that once ran through the property.

It's all being planned in accordance with state's visions for Kakaako, which will include walkable streets that a closed to car traffic, bike paths and open sidewalks for retailers and other small shops.

Keauhou Lane is one of nine city blocks that Kamehameha Schools plans to redevelop over the next two decades. They include the nearby Salt project and the Collection highrise at the former CompUSA site that is being built by Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

Including proposed Leeward Oahu projects such as Koa Ridge and Hoopili, city officials project that new construction on Oahu over the next decade could total over $10 billion dollars, which is comparable the post-1980s Japanese investment boom, which poured over $13 billion into the state economy.

"Depth of market, we think is pretty strong this early in the market cycle," Kay said.

"I'm banking that our product will be solid enough to have a very good showing in this market cycle."

But some Kakaako residents say more building will mean more traffic and will tax the area's infrastructure.

"They're going to add another 10,000 people," said Galen Fox, who lives in the Waterfront Tower apartment complex across from the proposed new building.

"They should be doing major studies on traffic, on sewers, on water. They should have that all worked out in advance so they know what's going to happen."

The state has invested tens of millions of dollars in the area's infrastructure since the 1990s and Kay believes the area's infrastructure and roads are equipped to handle more growth.

"KS's master plan overall was designed to be in and use the infrastructure that has been in place. So we're not creating super blocks," he said.

The project still requires approvals from the state and the city. But once that's done, construction can begin as early as next year.

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