Massive Aiea 'workforce housing' condo project on hold

Published: Jul. 7, 2016 at 2:29 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 7, 2016 at 2:33 AM HST
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AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A highly anticipated development in Aiea is now on hold. That means an empty lot across from Pearlridge Center will stay empty for years to come.

"I was surprised when I heard about it and a little bit disappointed because everyone worked so hard," said Aiea Neighborhood Board 1st Vice Chair Jane Sugimura.

The mainland developer says they can't afford to build the complex known as Live, Work, Play Aiea right now.

"It is surprising to hear that it is several years in setback. But I understand with what's going on across our state with high construction costs," said area councilman Brandon Elefante.

The city council signed off on the project back in 2014 and back then, they said construction could start as early as 2015. But with the unforeseen rise in construction costs, developers now say it won't be anytime soon.

Live, Work, Play Aiea is slated to provide 1,500 new residential units some one-bedrooms starting at just $245,000, which is why working families have been looking forward to it.

But now the Los Angeles developer, Robertson Properties Group, says it can't be built for at least three more years. The costs are being driven up by high demand. The state labor department says more than 40,000 construction workers are employed in Hawaii right now, which is a record high.

The property, at the corner of Moanalua Road and Kaonohi Street, is the old Kamehameha Drive-In Theater. It's now the site of the Kamehameha Swap Meet. It's a neighborhood in need of affordable homes.

"I think it's a shame because the residential towers were gonna be workforce housing…teachers, firemen, policemen, and retail workers would be able to afford them and I think there's a demand for that type of housing. So in think it's really a shame that it's not gonna happen," Sugimura said.

The swap meet is expected to continue at that site until the project gets going. The developer told the neighborhood board it may be even longer than three years, until the price is right for construction.
Elefante thinks it will be worth the wait.
"This is a very important project and it will also deliver affordable housing units," he said.

The condominium timeline has been pushed back to at least three years, but the overall construction timeline is expected to begin early 2017.

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