Plans to turn a long vacant lot into one of Waikiki's tallest buildings is headed for a showdown Thursday.
That's when the Honolulu City Council's zoning committee has scheduled a vote on Ritz Carlton condotel project on the 2100 block of Kuhio Avenue.
Developer PACREP2 LLC wants to build a 350-feet tall, twin-tower project that's 50 feet above the current height limit for Waikiki. They're asking for council approval for a height variance.
But residents are balking at the plan.
"We've created a Waikiki that looks like Rodeo Drive or the Champs-Elysees than a Pacific Island," said Louis Erteschik, vice chair of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board.
Waikiki resident Mark Monoscalco said the project intrudes on Waikiki's skyline.
"Right here in the center ... the Great Wall of Waikiki. It's going to be there for the service life of the building, 150 years. It's going to be there forever," he said.
But builders said the project will create hundreds of jobs and will add tens of millions of dollars in new investment.
They added that they've already created more open space in the project as a concession to residents' concerns.
"The additional 50 feet of height that we're talking about only makes things better. I think it is a reasonable thing to ask for," said Scott Glass, the project's architect.
"It's an improvement to the project across the board."
But the chair of the council's zoning committee said the developers haven't addressed enough of residents' concerns.
"It seems to me that the committee is going to want to see additional concessions from the developer. I'm not hearing that tonight," said Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who hosted Tuesday's informational briefing.
The zoning committee has deferred a vote in response to community concerns. If those concerns aren't met, the committee could defer decision making again, adding further costs to the developer.