Now past a price-related pause, work on a Makiki affordable housing unit begins

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:42 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 4:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City leaders alongside members of Oahu’s construction industry broke ground Thursday on a new rental building in urban Honolulu. It’s seen as another step in meeting the need for affordable housing.

“We’re gonna replicate this exact scenario,” Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi said. “There are over 7,000 parcels in the urban core. About 3,000 of them are in sort of ghetto-like condition. They should come down. They’re part of our rich past, but we need to create an even richer future.”

The 29-unit property is located at the corner of Pensacola and Lunalilo streets and will feature 20 one-bedroom apartments, all of which are affordable.

It was supposed to begin seven months ago, but the project hit a speed bump when the cost of construction materials went up 40%.

“The bonding company said ‘Hey wait a minute, we gotta check the numbers because material cost, shipping cost and everything else is gonna be a challenge, so we want to verify numbers,’” said Don Huang, design architect and owner of Collaborative 7 of Companies. “We had to go out and rebid.”

The idea of allowing investors to redevelop small parcels for affordable units was the first major housing initiative of the Blangiardi administration.

The builders receive breaks from aspects such as parking requirements and city fees in return for keeping prices low enough for those with below average incomes.

The mayor says so far demand is high despite increased costs.

“We’re just in the process now of getting a lot of greenlights and start to make things happen,” Blangiardi said. “We are really committed to affordable housing and we’re gonna make that a reality.”

Construction is expected to be completed by late next year.

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