Ward Village info center nears completion

Ward Village info center nears completion
A model showing what Kakaako could look like in ten to 15 years.
A model showing what Kakaako could look like in ten to 15 years.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's been a lot of talk about future development in Kakaako, but what will it actually look like? Kakaako's largest landowner is now preparing to give the public an idea.

The Howard Hughes Corporation owns 60 acres in Kakaako. It envisions 22 condominium towers and retail space in the area, which it calls Ward Village. And it will show it off in a new information center on the ground floor of the IBM Building.

"These buildings aren't designed," said Nicholas Vanderboom, the senior vice president of development for the Howard Hughes Corporation, as he showed a scale model of Ward Village. "This really represents the maximum potential build-out that will happen over maybe a ten to 15, maybe longer, period."

The clear buildings in the model are just concepts of what might be built. But Howard Hughes also includes current buildings, along with its first two towers. The first development, Waiea, will be built in the parking lot across from the Ward Theatres. A second, Anaha, will be right across the intersection where Pier 1 was located.

Together, the first two towers will add about 500 housing units, in a state that adds about 40 more people each day. Sales are currently only by appointment, with completion of the first tower expected in 2016.

"There's a shortage of housing, and it's very difficult to build here," said David Striph, Howard Hughes Corporation's senior vice president for Hawaii. "There's not much land. And so when you do have product available, there's a huge demand for it."

The corporation has also commissioned an interactive scale model of Honolulu, from Diamond Head to Sand Island, for prospective condominium buyers to "see" the city, using a touch screen to highlight different areas, including parks and historical landmarks.

"You want to see Iolani Palace is? You press it, and it lights up there," said Striph, who pressed the touch screen. A plastic block representing the palace immediately lit up while information about it appeared on the screen.

"I know that the company that made that model for us has done models of London, Oslo, and now Honolulu, and so -- Honolulu's becoming a world-class city, I think," said Striph.

The information center itself is just part of a $24 million renovation of the historic IBM Building.

"Really an iconic building, one that we wanted to honor the architecture, enhance it, open up the ground floor with glass and really bring people into it so that they could appreciated the history of the building and also of this place," said Vanderboom.

"We've got a very long-term vision here," said Striph. "And so to put the money in that we put into this investment, I think makes a lot of sense to really show people what it's like to live and work in Ward Village."

The information center and its models will open to the public in the next few weeks.

Previous story: Owner of Ward Village to develop 900 apartments

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