CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Empty nesters and first-time buyers alike are snapping up condos in Capitol Place, right, and the Pinnacle of Honolulu, left, across Beretania Street from each other in downtown Honolulu. Buyers say the condos put them closer to the action. CLICK FOR LARGE
Downtown condos aim to please new buyers and empty nesters
Buyers say two new developments will help ease their commute to work and activities
From first-time buyers to empty nesters, Capitol Place has managed to capitalize on its marketing message -- a short commute to downtown Honolulu.
In the end, it's not so much the dog park, the fitness center, yoga studio or the theater, but the proximity to downtown Honolulu that became the main selling point for the 39-story condominium being built by PMK Development LLC.
Capitol Place is one of two new residential condominiums under construction across Beretania Street from each other in downtown Honolulu.
Across the street, the Pinnacle of Honolulu has focused on the high end of the market for its slim 36-story luxury tower, which advertises concierge services and a personal doorman to greet residents at the entrance.
It is marketing itself as "a new take on the urban chic lifestyle," with tropical accents.
The Pinnacle, by California-based developer Caribou Industries, has attracted buyers from the mainland as well as Japan. So far, about a dozen buyers have bought entire floors at the project, which was offering a total of 50 units, all half-floors. Of the 13 units unsold this week, the least expensive was priced at $885,500.
At 394-unit Capitol Place, developers estimate about 52 percent of the buyers are owner occupants, 42 percent investors, and six percent second-home owners. About 40 units remain -- mostly two- and three-bedrooms starting at $540,970.
Buyers span the age spectrum, from their early 20s to late 70s, and cite a number of different reasons for buying at Capitol Place, not all of it necessarily the short commute.
Janel Ancheta, a young pediatric dentist who lives and works in Aiea, has plans to hit the town after purchasing a condo at Capitol Place. So she will, in fact, be creating a commute -- from downtown Honolulu to Aiea.
But she decided it was the ideal first home purchase.
"I liked that it was brand-new and it has a design that fits my taste," she said.
Walking to work, on the other hand, will save Calvin Liu the commute from Aiea to downtown Honolulu.
For those who live further leeward, like Kapolei or Ewa, it's two extra hours a day saved from sitting in H-1 traffic.
Maurice Grasso and Nancy Barry, both empty nesters, will be giving up their own places -- one in Diamond Head and the other in Kaimuki -- to move in together at Capitol Place.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Capitol Place, right, and the Pinnacle of Honolulu, left, are two residential condominiums under construction across Beretania Street from each other in downtown Honolulu. CLICK FOR LARGE
In their new life together, they're looking forward to walking to the Hawaii Theatre and nearby restaurants. Barry said she doesn't mind, even though she's commuting to work in Wahiawa.
"When you go to town now, it's quite lovely," said Barry. "There's lots of new activity with First Friday."
For Jane and Glenn Nagaishi, a condo at Capitol Place will be a return home. Glenn grew up on Vineyard Boulevard, and Jane grew up on Nuuanu Avenue. After raising a family in a Salt Lake home the last 25 years, it's now time to come back to downtown Honolulu, they said.
And from a practical point of view, Glenn Nagaishi said, it was closer to the hospitals.
Jane Nagaishi said it was more sentimental. "Home is where your heart is," she said. "For us, downtown is home."
Downtown Honolulu's emerging arts district has become an amenity for both developers, who have marketed it as much as their projects.
Capitol Place cites historic landmarks like Iolani Palace, the state Capitol, and the Hawaii Start Art Museum in its brochure, as well as the Aloha Tower and Pacific Club, which it says is where island society gathers to relax and conduct business.
PMK Development pulled out all the marketing stops, from sleek brochures to a bronze Labrador retriever posted outside of the downtown Honolulu sales office and a high-tech Web site that allows buyers to place furniture pieces within a chosen floor plan.
Though the developers are promoting a contemporary urban lifestyle, Honolulu isn't exactly New York City, Miami or San Francisco. During the weekday, most places still shut down at around 5 p.m. after the business community has gone home.
But the First Friday gallery art walk, now in its fourth year, has cultivated new life in the neighborhood, bringing in new shops and eateries and a little bit of nightlife.
Capitol Place was topped off in late June, with an expected completion date of May 2008.
The Pinnacle's topping off party is scheduled for the second week of July.