Living in Keola Lai

HONOLULU Magazine writers Martha Cheng and David Thompson did a feature in this month's issue on the various sights and businesses along Queen St., so I thought I should check into what it's like to live there. I've already profiled condos such as Harbor Square, Harbor Court and Honuakaha, but never anything in Keola Lai. Do you know why? It's such a desirable address, there's nothing available.


"I like that you can walk to a lot of things," says Keola Lai resident Chad Takesue, who is also a realtor with Prudential Locations. "It's not in the heart of the craziness, so getting in and out is fast and freeway access is quick. But it's still close enough to Ala Moana, Ward, Eat the Street, Honolulu City Lights—all in walking distance, and it's flat."

Indeed, Keola Lai gets 89 points on, which will probably improve after Kamehameha Schools is done redeveloping the Kakaako corridor.

"It's very well maintained, like living in a hotel. The maintenance crew is fantastic," Takesue adds. "The staff also implements events for the residents, like pictures with Santa, Halloween activities, even movie night on the deck with popcorn."

Takesue points out that mainland companies that have developed condos in Hawaii don't have the same sense of community that a local corporation would have. He feels that A&B ensures satisfaction from Keola Lai residents so they can serve them for the long term.

"We had issues with termites being brought in from the cabinets in some units in the beginning. Since it was early enough, they were able to quickly replace all the cabinets and fumigate the building," he says. "We had to move out for a week; those who needed to go to Waikiki got a stipend and we all got vouchers. They took video of the units beforehand to insure against anything missing after it was done. They really did everything right."

There are 350 units in the 43-floor condo, with 24-hour security, pool, barbecue area, exercise room and ample guest parking. The lobby area is spacious enough so residents can have study groups, and there's a car wash area in the back. You'll find a mix of baby boomers, retirees downsized from larger homes and young, urban professionals. There's about an 80 percent owner-occupant rate, so Takesue says it makes him feel even safer.

Of all the places he can walk to, what's Takesue's favorite? "I like to go to Panya on the weekdays for the pastries," he says. "But really, it's so hard to choose. There's a lot on Queen Street."