Developer of luxury condo threatens boycott over permitting snag

Published: May. 12, 2017 at 2:31 AM HST|Updated: May. 12, 2017 at 11:11 AM HST
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Artist rendering of Hawaii City Plaza. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Artist rendering of Hawaii City Plaza. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A developer whose permit has stalled in Honolulu City Council is threatening to organize a boycott of Hawaii if he doesn't get his way.

In a rambling letter to Councilman Ikaika Anderson, Johnson Fang, developer of the proposed 26-story Hawaii City Plaza high-rise on Sheridan Street, accused the Windward lawmaker of being biased.

"We deem your racial remarks (have) violated federal law…and discriminated against Chinese-Americans," Fang said in the letter. "l will call on Chinese to not visit Hawaii... not to make investment or buy property in Hawaii."

Fang is referring to comments by Anderson last week where he said, "If you're looking to provide 25 rental units and then you're going to take 130 units to market in China, sir, I'm not interested in that quite frankly."

Anderson declined comment on Fang's allegations on the advice of city attorneys. But he said he opposes the condo project -- where units go for as much as $1.5 million -- because it would do little to ease the housing crisis.

"As such, this project is clearly not appropriate for a (transit oriented development) area. It just does not fit," Anderson said.

The council member also took offense to recent comments by Fang's son, Jay Fang, who said that most of Hawaii City Plaza's buyers won't ride the rail system at all, even though it's a transit-oriented development project.

Jay Fang told the council that the rail system is for "old people, unemployed people or someone who can't afford the expense of a private cars."

"I am concerned that this developer seems to have some disdain for some people of Honolulu," Anderson said.

Fang is asking council members to approve a transit-oriented development permit, which will allow him to build more apartments on his lot than in other neighborhoods.

He said his project will create 1,000 jobs and that he will donate $2 million toward the construction of the nearest rail station.

For this Fang said: "I even believe I deserve the title of honorary city mayor."

That TOD permit applications remains in the council zoning committee and no further hearings are scheduled.

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