Hawaii Construction Boom: New Developments Coming to Honolulu, North Shore, Central, West and Windward Oahu
New developments are changing the face of Honolulu—find out what’s coming.
Construction cranes rise across urban Honolulu, shifting the skyline and promising change. For those ready to move into these developments, the residential housing boom offers new places to live. For neighbors and others concerned about the pace of growth, some projects face resistance.
Photos: Courtesy of HCDA and the respective development companies.
With interest rates low, demand for housing red hot and the wreckage of 2007’s burst housing bubble fading in the rearview mirror, the city has embarked on a serious residential growth spurt. Nobody knows how long it will last, but for now, it’s full steam ahead.
Across the island, housing developments large and small are moving forward, from a posh, 38-story condo above Waikiki’s Luxury Row, to a six-building low-rise in downtown Kailua, to an 11,750-home mini-city on the Ewa Plain. And then there’s Kakaako, where more than 30 condominium buildings are planned or taking shape. All those glass towers slated for Kakaako have brought community backlash and rumblings in the Legislature about reining in the state’s planning authority over the area (see our sidebar on the HCDA). It’s also brought home to roost the highest concentration of cranes in Hawaii.
What follows is not a comprehensive look at every housing development that’s underway or in the pipeline, but rather a sampler platter of two-dozen high-profile projects. Whether you’re in the housing market or simply concerned about the changing shape of your neighborhood, this should give you a handle on what’s coming our way, in Town (1), the West Side (2), and in the Country (3).
1. GOING UP IN TOWN
From Waikiki to Aiea, dozens of new glass towers will transform the face of the city—most dramatically in Kakaako.
Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach.
ONE Ala Moana.
ONE Ala Moana
Home at the mall
This swanky new condominium could literally not be closer to Ala Moana Center. That’s because it’s being built at Ala Moana Center, or, more precisely, on top of the Nordstrom parking garage. Design-wise, the building is actually two towers wrapped in one glass skin, each with its own lobby and elevators. All 205 units sold out within two days of hitting the market. Clearly, there are people out there who love Ala Moana so much they never want to leave. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Ala Moana Center is primed for another new luxury condo like this one on the other side of the mall, but details are sketchy. The Super Friends team behind ONE Ala Moana is HHMK Development, a partnership of The Howard Hughes Corp., The MacNaughton Group and the Kobayashi Group.
1555 Kapiolani Blvd., $500K–$1.2M, 23 stories, 2014
Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach
Luxury Row goes vertical
Rising above Luxury Row, and obstructing the ocean view of its neighbors, this controversial new addition to Waikiki is the first of two towers developer Pacrep LLC plans for the block (the other is a proposed 39-story condo/hotel). A full-service spa, two swimming pools, a sushi restaurant and the first Dean & DeLuca gourmet market in Hawaii will be among the amenities here. Foreign investors have already snapped up many of the 309 units. Residents of the neighboring Four Paddle high-rise complained that the tower’s view-blocking alignment violates the guidelines of Waikiki’s Special Design District. It turns out guidelines are just that—guidelines, not mandates.
2121 Kuhio Ave., $900K–$15M, 37 stories, 2016
Live Work Play Aiea
If developer Robertson Properties Group gets its way—and a zoning variance raising the height limit from 60 feet to 350 feet—a 14-acre “urban village” will sprout from the site of the old Kamehameha Drive-In Theater, across the street from Pearlridge Center. Can you picture the old Kam Swap Meet filled with 1,500 new residences and a multitude of offices and stores? The neighbors can, and they see more congestion.
Moanalua Road at Ka Onohi Street, 5 buildings, 150-350 feet
801 South St.
Build ‘em, Danno
Owner-occupants (versus investors) got the first crack at the 635 units of Tower A, which went up for sale last spring and sold out immediately. While obviously popular with buyers, the twin towers have drawn protests from neighbors losing their views, housing advocates raising questions of affordability and historic preservationists objecting to the partial demolition of what was The Honolulu Advertiser building. Developer Marshall Hung razed the structure that once housed the newspaper’s printing presses and more recently served as a soundstage for the TV show Hawaii Five-0.
$300K–$700K, Two 46-story towers, Tower A 2015, Tower B 2016
The Kakaako development plan envisions an urban community where people can walk to their places of work and play. There’s no telling where the residents of this rapidly rising tower will work, but they’ll need only cross the street to catch a concert—or whatever else the Blaisdell Center has to offer. Sixty buyers queued up on the first day of sales last summer, five months before developer OliverMcMillan Pacific Rim LLC broke ground. The first seven floors of the building will be taken up by parking and commercial spaces, including showrooms for luxury carmakers such as Ferrari, Lotus and Lamborghini.
Kapiolani Blvd. at Ward Ave, $500K–$800K, 40 stories, 2015
Keauhou Place & Keauhou Lane
Mixing it up
Everybody knew that the Eat the Street food trucks weren’t going to have their own city block forever. Landowner Kamehameha Schools envisions filling the block with a variety of housing types, including townhomes, lofts, live-work spaces, rentals and a tower with 400 or so units. The tower is called Keauhou Place, while a six-story mid-rise, which will have restaurants and retail on the ground floor, is called Keauhou Lane. Developer Stanford Carr hopes to break ground later this year.
555 South St., 40 stories + 6 stories, 2016
Keauhou Place & Keauhou Lane.
Cheap rents on the park
Built to satisfy the Hawaii Community Development Authority’s requirement for affordable rental housing, this building’s 204 units are for workers whose income is no more than 60 percent of Honolulu’s median annual income. For a single person, that would be $41,000. Units range from studios to three-bedroom apartments. At press time, developer Stanford Carr was putting the finishing touches on the building, which shares its block with Mother Waldron Park.
Halekauwila Street at Keawe Street, Rentals from $956–$1,389, 19 stories, 2014
A shrunken giant
Community outcry forced California-based developer Franco Mola to scale back his planned building from 400 feet to a measly 65 feet. Residents of Imperial Plaza—a building just 39 feet away—still complain that their neighbor to be is too close for comfort. Nonetheless, construction is set to begin later this year. Prices for the 153 studios and one- and two-bedroom units range from affordable to market-rate. An automated parking garage (think car elevator) puts a twist on parking.
$200K–$450K, 7 stories, 2016
Business and housing
A new piece from the “Our Kakaako” development plan came to light recently with the announcement of Castle & Cooke’s plan to create a mix of commercial and residential space at Auahi and Keawe streets. The ground floor will feature 10,000 square feet for businesses. Ninety-five one- to three-bedroom condos will occupy floors two through six. All of it is just a half block from Waterfront Plaza.
$400K–$700K, 6 stories, 2016
TROUBLE FOR THE HCDA
The intensifying pace of high-rise construction in Kakaako has set off a backlash against the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency in charge of redeveloping the area. Driven by fears of over-development and the sense among many Kakaako residents that the agency puts the interests of developers ahead of their neighborhood, an anti-HCDA movement has arisen. It has produced picket lines at construction sites, calls to rein in the agency or abolish it altogether, and three grassroots organizations: Kakaako United, Kakaako Cares and Kakaako Do It Right.
Ward Village: Waiea
The ample lap of luxury
The Howard Hughes Corp., whose long-term plan for low-slung Kakaako involves pulling it into the sky with 21 residential high-rises, is kicking off the campaign with a pair of towers across from the Ward Stadium 16 movie theaters. This one’s targeted at buyers in the uppermost tax brackets looking for plenty of elbow room. The smallest units will have 1,138 square feet, which is larger than some houses. Altogether, the 171 units will include a row of townhomes along Ala Moana Boulevard, plus 10 ultra-pricey penthouses. One lists for a walloping $20 million—reportedly a record asking price for a new condo unit in Hawaii.
Ward Village: Anaha
A wavy monument
This fraternal twin of the Waiea tower will be the same height as its sibling—400 feet—but have more down-to-earth prices (and two extra floors, thanks to lower ceilings). Seventy-three townhomes and flats will line the street, while the tower will hold 238 one- to three-bedroom units. Its distinctive stacks-of-wavy-glass design could make this building a landmark for miles around, or at least until it’s lost among the score of other high-rises Howard Hughes plans to build around it.
1108 Auahi St., $470K and up, 38 stories, 2016
Apartments for rent
Across Ward Avenue from Sports Authority (which will be replaced by a high-rise itself, someday), this 424-unit tower is being built by The Howard Hughes Corp. to satisfy its obligation to create “workforce housing” in Kakaako. The building’s elegant lines may belie its proletarian mandate, but don’t be fooled—nobody gets a lanai. Instead, architects have created “two large voids” where residents will find common areas featuring ocean views and fresh air. The start of construction will follow pending sales of Howard Hughes’ Waiea and Anaha towers.
44 stories, 2016
Ward Village: Anaha.
Tomorrow’s high density today
If anyone minds that five nearby high-rises will block much of this rising tower’s ocean views, it’s apparently not the buyers. They snapped up all 341 units last summer, before the ninth floor was even poured. In Waihonua’s favor, it’s a half block from Ala Moana Center, it’s pet friendly and its mauka views are more or less unobstructed. Such high-density blocks of high-rises will eventually be the norm in Kakaako. Waihonua just got in on it early.
1189 Waimanu St., $400K–$700K, 43 stories, 2016
A variety pack
As part of Kamehameha Schools’ “Our Kakaako” development plan, this 396-foot tower is set to arise on the block once occupied by CompUSA. Eventually, the block will feature a collection of new-urbanist abodes, including townhomes and four-story mid-rise condos. But first up is this high-rise, with 397 one- to three-bedroom units. For the artists and other creative types who’ve laid claim to the block across the street, The Collection is a harbinger of the higher rents to come. As far as they’re concerned, the building may as well be named The Gentrification.
600 Ala Moana Blvd., $300K–$700K, 43 stories, 2017
2. CENTRAL AND WEST SIDE
A mix of sprawling new communities and small expansions of existing neighborhoods will beef up the stock of single-family homes and duplexes.
A major game changer
Developer D.R. Horton hopes to break ground on its massive and much contested development next year, kicking off a construction project that could be underway for the next 20 years. Eighty percent of Hoopili’s homes will be mid-rises, townhomes and other multi-family dwellings, while 20 percent will be single-family homes, with 3 million square feet devoted to commercial and industrial uses. This makes the development more of a small city than a simple subdivision. The main objections of the project’s many opponents include the loss of 1,375 acres of prime farmland, and the logjam traffic that building this many homes upstream of the H-1/H-2 freeway merge is sure to exacerbate.
$300K–$600K, 11,750 homes, construction begins 2015
Food v. shelter
After more than a decade of protests and legal challenges, Castle & Cooke’s long-in-coming Koa Ridge housing development has yet another obstacle to overcome: the Sierra Club’s appeal of the State Land Use Commission’s rezoning of the land from agricultural to residential and commercial use. If Castle & Cooke prevails, it expects to begin building in late 2015, with the first homes available for occupancy in 2016. Construction is expected to last 10 to 15 years. The development is slated for 576 acres of former pineapple fields between Mililani, Waipio Gentry and the H-2 freeway. Opponents object to the loss of the last bit of farmland between Pearlridge and Wahiawa, the impact on drinking water downslope from the development, and the worsening of the region’s already hellish traffic.
3,500 single- and multi-family homes, first homes 2016
Awakea at Mehana
Townhomes in the Second City
The latest installment of developer D.R. Horton’s fast-growing Mehana subdivision features two solid blocks of two- and three-bedroom townhomes mixed with spaces for small businesses. Under a novel “flex home” option, buyers can add a bonus room to use either as a business or as extended living space. Thirty of the units are designated as “affordable” and are reserved for those earning 80 percent of Oahu’s median income or less.
$300K–$500K, 115 townhomes, 2016
Home on the greens
This is one of two small housing developments happening between the edges of the Ewa Villages Golf Course and the existing homes of the Ewa Villages neighborhood. Construction of these one- and two-story homes by developer Castle & Cooke is well underway.
$500K–$700K, 62 single-family homes, now selling
Golf Villas at Lokahi Greens
Build to suit
When the City and County of Honolulu put 57 lots along the Ewa Villages Golf Course up for auction last March, developer D.R. Horton snapped up 54 of them. Sales of the one- and two-story, build-to-suit homes that will fill those lots began in February. Construction is set to start soon.
$400K–$700K, 43 stories, 2016
Kahiwelo at Makakilo
This subdivision has been crawling up the foothills above Kapolei since 2007, and it’s about halfway complete. Developer D.R. Horton’s three- to five-bedroom homes come with the option of “edible landscaping,” which can include fruit trees, vegetable beds and aquaponics systems. The neighborhood features some of Oahu’s best sunsets, and some of its most challenging commutes.
$600K and up, 472 homes, 2016
3. COUNTRY SPRAWL
Modern mid-rises, low-rises and townhomes face mixed reactions across the island.
Thanks to its four-story height limit, bustling little Kailua isn’t getting any taller. But with these half-dozen, four-story condominiums replacing a series of older walkup apartments, it’s suddenly looking a lot denser. The brand-new Target box store simultaneously going in next door compounds the sense that Kailua is a town in transition. Demand for housing in Kailua is so great that developer D.R. Horton has decided to sell all of Ka Malanai’s 153 units by lottery. In round one, 128 applicants vied for the first 28 units. No word on the date for round two.
Kailua Road at Aoloa Street, $400K–$900K, 153 units, 2015
For the gentleman farmer
The so-called “gentleman farmers” of the Neighbor Islands have long known that if you want to build a mansion on land zoned for agriculture, all you need are a few horses or fruit trees and—voila—your mansion is suddenly a “farm dwelling.” That loophole in Hawaii’s land-use laws may be taking hold on Oahu. Developer Bridge Real Estate Hawaii has transformed 64 acres of former horse pasture mauka of the Olomana Golf Course into what it’s calling the island’s “only private agricultural subdivision.” Lots come with the option of a custom-built home with fruit trees in the yard. Horses not included.
240 Old Kalanianaole Highway, $1.15M–$1.625M, 23 homes, 2014
Conflict in the Country
Turtle Bay Resort’s expansion plans include building 625 new hotel rooms and a housing development that would include 590 market-rate units and 160 affordable units. The plan faces heated opposition from the Defend Oahu Coalition, a group called Keep the North Shore Country and the Sierra Club. Advocates for the project say it will add jobs and much-needed housing. Opponents want to preserve one of Oahu’s most prized, and last remaining, rural areas. Litigation could keep Turtle Bay’s expansion inching along like, well, a turtle, for some time to come.
750 single- and multi-family housing units