Honolulu affordable highrise would include shelter for at-risk youth

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's not much to look at now, but the current home of Honolulu's juvenile detention center is poised to become a first-of-its-kind housing development.

Under a plan that still requires key taxpayer funding, the state would construct a 19-story highrise on the one-and-a-half acre plot, with the first three floors being set aside for the juvenile court system. The space would include services for troubled youth and a shelter.

The rest of the Alder Street building would be made up of 180 affordable rental units.

State Rep. Scott Saiki, whose district includes McCully and Kaheka, said the location of the highrise is ideal.

"It's close by to public transportation, schools, a public park," he said.

But the project still has a significant funding hurtle to overcome.

Lawmakers already approved funding for the residential portion last year. But in order to break ground, taxpayers would need to ante up another $15 million to cover the juvenile justice side of the project.

The idea has overwhelming support, but that might not be enough move the project forward.

"There are a lot of competing needs this year," Saiki said. "So it's one of the items that we have to consider and we'll know by the end of April whether we can approve it or not."

If it gets the go-ahead units would only go to people making less than 60 percent of the state's median income, or about $47,000 for a family of four.  A studio would go for $1000 per month, while a one bedroom would rent for about $1,100 a month.

If funding is approved, construction could start in 2019. The first phase of the project would be completed two years after that.

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