Downtown Honolulu Living at Keola Lai

The Philpotts & Associates-designed lobby at Keola Lai.

The Keola Lai security guard is laughing at me, a big, toothy grin that says, “Who you think you are, lady? You can’t just walk into my building.” That’s my kind of security. You want in to Keola Lai? You’ll need a key fob scanner to gain entrance, or you’ll have to call your friend and he or she can buzz you in. And once inside, the still-smiling security guard (someone is there 24 hours a day) will point you toward the sign-in sheet. Video cameras monitor all of the common areas (elevators included), so don’t get any ideas, and residents’ key fobs can only access their assigned floors. The parking garage is controlled access, too.

OK, so the building’s secure, what else? Well, for starters, the location—at the intersection of Queen and South Streets in Kakaako—is perfectly suited to downtown professionals and city dwellers. It’s within walking distance to the business district, Restaurant Row and Ward Centers and a short drive to Ala Moana. Built in 2008, Keola Lai still feels shiny and new, with an open, well-appointed lobby (interior design was handled by Philpotts & Associates) and all the requisite amenities—65-foot swimming pool, a separate wading area for kids, whirlpool, fully equipped fitness center, Weber barbecue grills and a community room that can be reserved for meetings or parties.

With an 80-percent owner-occupant rate, you’re likely to know your neighbors. According to Tracy Yamato, a Keola Lai Sales Manager and Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties’ realtor, the resident mix includes working baby boomers, retirees who down-sized from larger homes and young, urban professionals.

There are 352 units in total, with one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans. According to Yamato, resale prices start in the mid- to high-$400,000s for one-bedroom condos, and the least expensive two-bedrooms are in the $500,000 to $550,000 range but can go up to the high-$600,000s. The only three-bedroom listing I could find in MLS was priced just over $1 million.

Design features include eight-foot ceilings, designated dining areas, double-pane, low-E glass windows (you really cannot hear the noise outside), central AC, porcelain tile floors in kitchens and bathrooms, stainless-steel appliances, granite kitchen and bathroom countertops, maple or cherry kitchen and bathroom cabinets and walk-in closets. Some of the units have lanai, which, says Yamato, are at a premium and tend to sell first.

Monthly maintenance fees include cable TV, Internet, sewer and water. The building is pet-friendly.

Here’s a look at two of the available units at Keola Lai:

Unit 3405
Asking price: $675,000 fee simple
Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 2
Living area: 1,022 square feet
Maintenance fee: $662
Selling points: Bay and ocean views, closet organizers, wool carpeting, washer and dryer in unit.

From left to right: The master bedroom, bathroom and second bedroom in the model unit.


Penthouse 2
Asking price: $2.3 million fee simple
Bedrooms: 2 + den/office
Baths: 2.5
Living area: 2,235 square feet
Maintenance fee: $1,392
Selling points: The 280-sq.-ft. lanai with city, mountain, harbor and ocean views, separate laundry room, walk-in pantry, large dining room, marble and hardwood floors, three designated parking stalls on first floor by elevator.

From left to right: The penthouse lanai, living room and master bedroom.