New UH dorms designed as innovative incubator for next generation of entrepreneurs

UH-Manoa students looking for campus housing this fall have a new option.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 5:01 PM HST|Updated: May. 17, 2023 at 5:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - UH-Manoa students looking for campus housing this fall have a new option.

The historic Atherton YMCA houses are being converted into a new complex called RISE, an acronym for Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs.

Come August, nearly 400 students are expected to live in RISE, the brainchild of PACE, the Shidler College of Business’ Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship.

It’ll be both student housing and co-working space for the community.

“This is what’s called the live-learn-work complex,” said Sandra Fujiyama, PACE executive director.

“There are only a few in the country, universities that have these. So it’s the first-of-its-kind in Hawaii. And it’s really to help our students who are much more engaged in creating positive impact.”

She added: “We hope that everybody will come together, and really look for ways to diversify our economy, look for ways to increase the workforce and create jobs for our students so that they can stay here in Hawaii.”

The project itself embodies innovative thinking.

The UH Foundation bought the Atherton YMCA buildings for $8 million in 2017 and hired Hunt Companies Hawaii to execute PACE’s vision.

Backers say the public-private partnership allowed it to be completed in 6 years and will be on time, within budget and without spending taxpayer money.

“This is all self-funded with the private funds that the Foundation raised through bond issuance. And so we spent like, no taxpayer money to build this project, which is just amazing in itself,” said UH Foundation vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer John Han.

“This project came through and started during a pandemic, and then had to build through an unfortunate war and then obviously go through the financial markets that we’re going through right now, which obviously have an impact on cost of financing as well as cost of goods,” said Mike Lam, senior VP for Hunt Development Group.

“But we’re still here. And we’re still, you know, very much going to deliver in August of this year, just like we promised,”

And it comes at a good time. RISE is the first dorm to be built on the UH Manoa campus in 15 years.

“It’s much needed. And the demand is really high for student housing. The enrollment has been growing at UH. And so we’re really happy that we could be a part of the solution for UH housing,” Han said.

Applications are being accepted now for single and double rooms. The dorm includes shared bathrooms, a common kitchen and living area, and outdoor deck. Every room will have an individual air conditioning unit.

Fees start at $1,200 a month for a double room, compared to about $700 in UH’s cheapest dorms. The lease term is 12 months, versus 9 months at other campus housing.

To offset the cost, the UH Foundation is offering $500,000 in scholarships for students who want to live in RISE or take part in PACE programs.

“The scholarship will definitely help students that want to live here that think, oh my gosh, it might be a little bit too expensive, right? It’s new,” Fujiyama said.

And who knows? With PACE resources and like-minded folks, the next Google or Facebook could come out of these halls.