Affordable rental project in historic Chinatown district set to open in October

Top stories from across Hawaii and around the world, as seen on the 6 p.m. news broadcast from Hawaii News Now.
Updated: Aug. 31, 2020 at 4:50 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Finishing touches are being put on the second floor of Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown as contractors transform 25,000 square feet of upstairs space into 34 affordable rental units plus four apartments for families transitioning out of homelessness.

Former Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s group, MKM LLC, partnered with the city on the project.

“The second floor here was just storage,” Abercrombie said. “I said, ‘No! We’re going to house people, not store goods.’”

Aliou Sami, who is in the Coast Guard, hopes to rent a unit.

On Monday, he toured the project and came away impressed.

“Big windows. A lot of lighting. They’re way more spacious than I thought they would be,” he said.

Studio apartments will rent for about $1,300 a month. One bedrooms will go for about $1,400. Rent for a two-bedroom will be about $1,700 a month.

The rents includes water and sewer fees, but electricity will be billed separately.

“We have all the ENERGY STAR appliances,” construction manager Chad Johnston said.

He said countertops and cabinet material are the same quality that are used in regular apartment construction. “We wanted to make sure we used quality products that will last. We’re really hoping that this is going to set an example for other projects to come,” he said.

There is no designated parking for the project that’s called Residence at Maunakea at Maunakea Marketplace, but there are amenities like exercise and recreation spaces.

“You don’t have to look very far before you see opportunities to be able to get things done for hard-working people that deserve a break,” Abercrombie said.

To qualify for a unit, income for single occupants must be less than about $53,000 a year. The income limit is about $60,500 for couples. It increases for families with children.

Sami is single and is hopeful he’ll land an apartment.

“I’m one of the first, I think, to try and get in one of these places,” he said.

Abercrombie worked with the city’s Department of Community Services, which will give final approvals to applicants. The apartments will be ready to rent in October.

Abercrombie’s group wants to do more projects like this.

“This is just the beginning,” he said.

Avalon Development is managing the property. To get on the waiting list for a unit, email your request to or call (808) 587-7770.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.