Segregation? Tenants in affordable units to get separate entranc - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Segregation? Tenants in affordable units to get separate entrance

(Image: Courtesy) (Image: Courtesy)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A mixed-use residential highrise planned for the Ala Moana area is raising some concerns because it has separate entrances for those who purchase market-rate condo units -- and those who will live in affordable rentals on the same property.

ProsPac Holdings Group plans to build a 41-story tower that would rise 400 feet on the corner of Keeaumoku Street and Makaloa Street, one block mauka of Ala Moana Center. 

There would be about 350 market priced condo units, which would have an entrance on Keeaumoku.

Another area would have 79 affordable rentals with a separate entrance on Makaloa. Some have referred to this as a "poor door."

The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice is among those bothered by the difference. Co-director Victor Geminiani calls it segregation.

"Ultimately this will be the first time we will have approved a mixed-use residential project with separate entrances," he said.

"That sends messages to all of us."

The affordable rentals would be open to working class people, according to Honolulu City Councilman Brandon Elefante. "They may be people that may be in the service industry. They may be fellow teachers. People that may be working at your local supermarket. These are people that are really in our communities," he said.

"While they may not seem poor, just because of their lower income, I don't feel that we should separate, or have to separate entrances," he added. "They should still be allowed the same front door."

ProsPac Holdings said the proposal is not one building, but two distinct projects for two different housing needs.

"While most developers create a market rate tower in one location and an affordable tower in another location, our solution allows both projects to exist on the same block in the heart of Honolulu's Ala Moana neighborhood," William Chen, ProsPac Holdings Assistant Director, said in a statement. "This approach is a response to international best practices in space management and forward thinking about the kind of urban density that will work best for transit-oriented community planning."

"Unless there's a real specific design need to do this -- and I don't think there is in this building -- you don't need to ultimately create two separate entrances, two separate elevator systems," said Geminiani.

The city council's Housing and Zoning Committee will hear the proposal on Tuesday.

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