Advocates: Ala Moana luxury highrise should include affordable u - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Advocates: Ala Moana luxury highrise should include affordable units

(Image: Manaolana Partners) (Image: Manaolana Partners)
(Image: Manaolana Partners) (Image: Manaolana Partners)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A 36-story luxury highrise proposed for the Ala Moana area would be the first built under the city's new transit oriented development permitting process, which allows taller buildings with less parking and less open space.

Manaolana Partners says it will transform the block across from the Hawaii Convention Center, at the corner Kapiolani Boulevard and Atkinson Drive

"The place that we're building is a place that today is occupied by drug dealers, massage parlors and strip clubs. We're cleaning it up and we're happy to do that," said James Ratkovich, of Manaolana Partners.

The building is slated to have up to 109 residential units and 125 hotel rooms -- but no affordable housing.

And that's got affordable housing advocates concerns.

"This is a double whammy," said Marya Grambs, of Partners in Care, a consortium of homeless service providers. "We don't get affordable housing. We don't get it in the TOD zone. And we get another luxury building."

The developer agreed to set aside $2.4 million for the city's affordable housing fund.

But advocates say the trust fund has never been used for affordable housing.

"Giving money to build housing at some point in the future is not the same as actually building units," said Gavin Thornton, of the Hawaii Appleseed Center. "Who's to say units are ever going to built with this?"

Ratkovich, meanwhile, said the project is helping the community. It would create more than 900 jobs and include $7 million in community benefits with a public plaza, restaurants, and a new bus stop, he said.

"The economic benefit goes beyond that to tens of millions of dollars to the state, to the county and to the city in increased tax revenues," he said.

Manaolana Partners has been negotiating terms of the project with the city for the past two years.

Floor plans and pricing of the condo units haven't been finalized.

The City Council is considering a proposal under which the developer would buy a separate property to build 16 affordable housing units along the rail line. Council members will discuss the idea in a future meeting.

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