2 condo high-rises
planned for Kakaako

The projects, still in
the conceptual stage, will
feature about 1,000 units

Two new high-rise residential projects planned for Kakaako would bring about 1,000 new condominium units into the Honolulu market over the next couple of years.

The biggest, which could create two 46-story towers with 355 apartments in each, is slated for the 6.1-acre former Rainbow Chevrolet property on the mauka side of Kapiolani Boulevard, across Pensacola Street from McKinley High School.

The second, planned for about 230 units in a 32-story building, is set for the makai corner of Ward Avenue and Kapiolani across from the Neal Blaisdell Center and next to the Musicians Association of Hawaii building

Neither has yet applied for state condominium-sales approval or building permits, but both have filed concept plans with the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the agency responsible for regulating development in the Kakaako district. HCDA approval is needed before anything else can be done.


The bigger of the two, using the working name Mahana Towers, is being developed by KC Rainbow and will be on land acquired in mid-1998 for $26 million by Fred and Annie Chan, University of Hawaii graduates who made a fortune in Silicon Valley technology businesses.

Their nonprofit Ohana Foundation, started that year to help education in Hawaii, later went bust, but they invested more than $40 million in Hawaii real estate, including the former Kaiser Estate in Portlock.

Several plans have surfaced for the Kapiolani-Pensacola property over the years since Japanese investor Asahi Jyuken bought it for $36 million in 1988, around the peak of the Japanese investment bubble, but it has remained empty.

In its detailed submission seeking HCDA approval, KC Rainbow outlines a concept of one-, two- and three-bedroom units with five levels of parking, a recreation deck on the sixth floor and 29 floors of apartments with nine units per floor.

Architects Hawaii has drawn designs for the buildings, but an official connected with the development said they could change depending on negotiations with HCDA over what is allowed, and depending on the final economics and the market.

The initial filing says sales of the first tower should start in January and construction could begin soon after that, taking about 18 months to complete.

The timetable for the second tower will depend on how the first tower does, but sales could begin in May 2004 with construction to start about the end of 2004, according to the HCDA filing.

The developers also plan some "light industrial" spaces along the Kapiolani frontage.

The land owner is EvershineX, one of a number of investment-development entities the Chans set up under the Evershine name.

No prices have been set because there are too many variables to be faced, a development source said. The Chans could not be reached for comment.

The other project just entering the HCDA process, which is on the former Island Federal Savings & Loan site at Ward and Kapiolani, has a development name of 909 Kapiolani, but also has been called Emerald Tower.

It is being developed by an entity called POSEC Hawaii Inc., a partnership of two South Korean industrial companies. Calls to a Honolulu telephone number left with HCDA were not returned.

The developers of the 59,000-square-foot lot are pooling their development rights with those of the Musicians Association of Hawaii, the union that owns 14,000 square feet of land and a two-story building on the Diamond Head side of the condominium site.

Union president Michael Lagarticha said nothing has been finalized, but the basic plan is for the musicians' building to stay and the union to get some benefits from sharing its rights with the condominium developers.

Part of the pending deal is that POSEC will create some space for the union in the new building.

For the developer, it means rights and setbacks for 73,000 square feet of land, rather than the more limited development that would be allowed on 59,000 square feet.

Plans at the HCDA show three floors of lobby, recreation and parking, topped by 29 floors of apartments.

The projects follow two previously announced new condominiums for Kakaako.

One is Hokua, a 250-unit, 40-story luxury condominium being developed by a partnership of local developers MacNaughton Group and Kobayashi Group, fronting on Ala Moana near the Nauru building. That project is under construction.

The other is a 370-unit building on the new Queen Street extension being developed by Sunset Heights, a partnership set up by Florida-based luxury condo developer Crescent Heights. The developer is building a sales office but has not yet applied for condominium registration from the state, which it must do before it begins selling units.


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