WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council zoning committee has unanimously approved plans for a hotel-condo tower to be built at King's Village in Waikiki that's 110 feet higher than current zoning allows.
The new project will be about as high as its neighbor across the street, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.
MK Development Consulting, a company run by the kamaaina MacNaughton and Kobayashi families, wants to build a 32-story condo-hotel at King's Village off Kaiulani Avenue in Waikiki,
Plans call for about 213 units, along with a restaurant, bar, and meeting facilities on the one-acre site.
It would replace the low-rise complex of shops and restaurants that was built in 1972.
Eddie Keliinohomoku, owner of a tricycle tour company at King's Village, understands the need to modernize.
But, he said, "It's a little sad, you know, to see it go, especially after International Marketplace, it's kind of a last little piece of Waikiki that has that rich history, specially being King David Kalakaua's former residence here."
A major retail tenant in the new complex will be an ABC store.
"Waikiki is an aging product and we have to be competitive globally and there's been so few projects that have been redeveloped in Waikiki. So here's an opportunity for us," said Paul Kosasa, president of ABC Stores.
City Councilman Trevor Ozawa said the zoning approval was about understanding the direction of Waikiki.
"We have to accept as our reality is making sure that we revitalize Waikiki," he said. "If we revitalize Waikiki, we can keep other parts of the island country."
The Local 5 hotel workers union testified against the proposal, saying a condo-hotel will have significantly fewer employees than a hotel. The union says the developer's prediction of 320 full-time jobs is overblown.
"Something that looks like it might be a hotel right now might end up just being a pure residence. And so something that looks like it will create a lot of jobs now might end up not, really," said Ben Sadoski, of Local 5.
But the Waikiki Neighborhood Board voted unanimously to support the project. Construction on the new project is slated to start in about a year, assuming the full City Council gives final approval at its next meeting on April 20.