First-time homeowners handed the keys to new affordable housing towers in Kakaako

Published: May. 14, 2019 at 9:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of Hawaii families will begin moving into their new homes in Kakaako this week as two major affordable housing projects open their doors to new residents.

Ke Kilohana is the first affordable housing tower in Ward Village, and 375 units in the high-rise tower have been reserved for first-time homeowners.

On Tuesday, Ricky and Karen Muraoka were handed the keys to their new two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the 43-story condominium that was developed by Howard Hughes.

The young couple moved to Hawaii from Los Angeles. For Ricky Muraoka, it was an opportunity to come back home to Oahu.

“Who wouldn’t want to live in central Kakaako,” he said. “We’re excited to be able to walk everywhere, and we really were fortunate to get in and have a unit here.”

A two-bedroom affordable unit in Ke Kilohana measures about 750 square feet ― and prices start at around $473,000.

The building comes with amenities like a sky lanai, a kids playground, a theater and a karaoke room.

"All those pieces that we felt what local residents are looking for, from a lifestyle standpoint, are all within the building," said Todd Apo, senior vice president for community development at The Howard Hughes Corporation.

“This is their first home, so the chance for them to begin their lives, their stories, right here in the urban setting is really what we’re looking forward to.”

It's not the only new housing opportunity in the neighborhood.

Across the street from Ala Moana Center is the new Hale Kewalo, an 11-story mid-rise with 128 affordable rental apartments.

Rent there starts at $656, plus utilities, for a one-bedroom unit.

Developer Stanford Carr says projects like this are complicated, but remain possible through multiple financing sources.

“We can keep building this for years to come and never really get caught up to meet the growing demand for housing,” Carr said.

The head of the Hawaii Community Development Authority says offering different levels of affordable housing for residents creates a positive ripple effect in the market.

“When they move into a building like this, one, they become a homeowner. And two, it opens up that unit in Makiki where someone can move up the housing ladder,” said Aedward Los Banos.

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