Kakaako developer breaks ground on Whole Foods project

Kakaako developer breaks ground on Whole Foods project
Published: Feb. 11, 2016 at 8:46 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2016 at 9:59 PM HST
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Image Source: Howard Hughes Corp.
Image Source: Howard Hughes Corp.

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Construction of a new Kakaako condominium with a much-anticipated Whole Foods Market kicked off Thursday.

Howard Hughes Corp. held a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of the condo, on the corner of Queen and Kamakee streets.

If you're keeping count, this is the third recent Howard Hughes Corp. groundbreaking in the area.

Despite headwinds facing other developers, HHC says it's continuing to move forward with planned developments.

"We're working on a 60-acre master plan, and that gives us so many more opportunities on when to do things, how to do things," said Todd Apo, vice president of community development. "You've got a canvas of 60 acres, you've got a number of pieces that are here already and figuring out how do you make these pieces work together."

Increased construction costs and slowing international economies sunk the unrelated Vida condominium project last month. But Howard Hughes can boast revenues from businesses across its properties.

"All those revenue elements that continue the operations here allow us to have a little bit more flexibility," Apo said.

Aeo is a 466-unit luxury project, with one-bedrooms starting at $792,000 and three-bedrooms starting at $1.7 million. The building is expected to be completed in Fall 2018.

In addition to a street-level Whole Foods and other shops, it will have a private movie theater, wellness center, dog run area, and three suites for visiting guests.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state's steward for Kakaako, is tasked with overseeing the growth in Kakaako.

Aedward los Banos, HCDA executive director, said there's always a need for more affordable housing, "but we have to make room for these developers to make these projects feasible."

Los Banos foresees a continued trend of growth in the area, but he concedes the market will ultimately shape Kakaako.

"If the developers want a project to move forward, they're going to have to price accordingly," he said.

Howard Hughes will have its fourth groundbreaking, for an affordable housing project, later this year.

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