Moana Vista heads to auction


POSTED: Saturday, September 19, 2009

The 27th floor of the uncompleted Moana Vista condominium tower offers sweeping ocean and mauka views of the Kakaako area from a bank of windows.

Court-appointed commissioner Sanford Murata leads about a dozen prospective buyers on a hard-hat tour of the floor to show them the view from inside, answering questions along the way.

The project—about 40 percent complete—is scheduled for a foreclosure auction at noon Friday at the state Circuit Court building breezeway on Punchbowl Street.

It is the first project in years to have broken ground without completion, yet another telltale sign of the state of the economy, where foreclosure auctions are becoming all too common.

While the windows have been installed, the floors are still bare concrete, with an empty elevator shaft, and loops of cable and plumbing pipes waiting to be connected.

Down below, a lobby and sixth-floor recreation deck with swimming pool have yet to be built out. Up above, a crane sits motionless.

General contractor Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., which filed a mechanic's lien of $29.5 million in April, is foreclosing on the project.





» Location: 1015 Kapiolani Blvd.


» Site: 2.3 acres


» Original developer: KC Rainbow II LLC


» Foreclosure action: Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. (owed $29.5 million)


» Status: Construction started in March 2007 and stopped in November 2009. Built to the 27th floor, 40 percent complete.


» Project: Planned as a mixed-use, 400-foot tower with 492 two-bedroom condos


» Auction: noon Friday, First Circuit Court breezeway


» Web site: moanavista.com




There is no minimum bid price, though serious bidders will need to bring at least 10 percent of their offer to the auction on Friday.

The project, envisioned as a 46-story high-rise offering 492 two-bedroom condos, has been stalled since November, and went into foreclosure after a potential sale to San Diego developer Oliver McMillan fell through a few weeks ago.

In an effort to attract more buyers, developer KC Rainbow dropped its prices for two-bedrooms to the low $400,000s earlier this year. An attempt to refinance the project also fell through.

KC Rainbow operations director Allen Leong said the project was hit with a double whammy—a credit crisis, which affected financing, as well as a down economy, which slowed buyers.

“;Both happening at the same time had a significant impact,”; Leong said.

The Moana Vista sales office closed earlier this week, and buyers who put down deposits received refunds, according to operations director Allen Leong.

Now the project simply goes to the highest bidder.

When KC Rainbow, led by high-tech entrepreneurs Fred and Annie Chan, first embarked on plans to build the residential tower on Kapiolani three years ago, the real estate market was full of promise.

The Moana Vista was expected to follow on the heels of the higher-priced Moana Pacific, twin oval-shaped towers that KC Rainbow successfully completed just a block away.

KC Rainbow won approval for its project from the state Hawaii Community Development Authority in 2006 after agreeing to set aside 124 units for affordable housing. A planned development permit is already in place.

KC Rainbow invested about $65 million into the project, Leong said.

KC Rainbow already purchased raw materials, including granite slabs for the countertops, kitchen cabinets, plumbing and drywall, which would be included in the sale. A separate parcel fronting Waimanu Street, originally part of the project, is not part of the sale.

Wednesday's tour was the last one offered to potential bidders, in addition to one the prior week.

The prospective buyer still will need to set aside 124 units, which can either be rented or sold at a lower-than-market price to comply with permit requirements, according to HCDA Director Anthony Ching. But if the buyer follows the conditions as issued in the permit, Ching said all that would be required is paperwork reflecting the new ownership.

The estimated completion cost, according to Hawaiian Dredging, ranges from $126.5 million to $131.5 million, including the $29.5 million it is owed, if work begins again in December.