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Residents of Kakaako highrise ask state to intervene in dispute with developer

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 5:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents in the Ke Kilohana affordable apartment complex in Kakaako are asking for the state’s help in their multi-million dollar dispute over maintenance fees.

They blame developer Howard Hughes Corp. for a 50% increase in monthly maintenance costs, which they allege have made their condos no longer affordable under the guidelines set by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

“When we saw the increase in maintenance fees were were shocked and in disbelief. Then it turned into a feeling that we were scammed. It was bait and switch,” said owner Shelley Steele.

Steele said her maintenance fee was $590 a month when she bought her home in 2019. But last year, it jumped by $350 a month, or nearly 60%.

The increase affected the owners of 375 affordable units in the project.

The condo association said developer Howard Hughes Corp. deliberately low-balled the maintenance fees to boost how much it could charge for the units.

Attorney Sharla Manley said that over a 30-year period, Howard Hughes’ maintenance cost estimates would fall $65 million short.

The owners also claim that their parking stalls are too small -- and violate the building standards.

Howard Hughes says it followed HCDA rules, fully disclosed all fees and that an independent property management company certified its estimates.

The company also said it offered financial aid to homeowners but the association refused and sued instead. The lawsuit is still pending.

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