SA: ‘Affordable rentals for Hawaiians to rise in Moiliili’

By Andrew Gomes, 10/5/20
Star-Advertiser

A 23-story apartment tower is slated to rise on the former Stadium Bowl-O-Drome site in Moiliili, providing affordable rentals for 277 Native Hawaiian households.

The plan was recently selected by the state Department of Hawaiian Homes Lands, which owns the 1.9-acre site at 820 Isenberg St. and last year solicited proposals from private developers to produce what would be the agency’s first high-rise rental housing project serving beneficiaries.

DHHL determined that a partnership between local homebuilder Stanford Carr Development and contractor Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. offered the best plan over four other competing proposals. 

The estimated $137 million project includes a 210-foot tower with 270 apartments, and an adjacent 4-story structure with 295 parking stalls, seven townhomes and 4,680 square feet of retail space fronting Isenberg.

The tower plan doesn’t align with the site’s preservation zoning, but DHHL isn’t subject to county zoning rules. The plan, however, will go through a state environmental review process with an environmental assessment slated to begin soon.

If plans proceed smoothly, DHHL anticipates the tower can be finished in mid-2024.

Monthly rental rates are estimated to range from $633 for studios to $3,133 for 3-bedroom townhomes.

William Aila Jr., DHHL’s director, said in a statement that the project will allow beneficiaries to live in Honolulu’s urban core at below- market rental rates while awaiting an opportunity to receive a homestead lot for $1 a year.

“We know many of our applicants are paying Honolulu’s high market rents, making it difficult to prepare for their future homestead opportunity,” he said. “DHHL’s hope is that this affordable rental option not only provides the circumstance for our families to financially ready themselves, but also the convenience of being closer to jobs and schools. Another hope of the development is to bring relief to some of the older members of our community through affordable housing opportunities.”

DHHL has about 28,000 Native Hawaiians on its waiting list for homestead lot leases, but not everyone on the list is prepared to build a home.

The agency stated last year that fewer than 27% of applicants could make a 10% down payment for a $150,000 house on a homestead lot, and that about 5% of applicants would prefer an affordable rental.

The estimated $137 million project includes a 210-foot tower with 270 apartments, and an adjacent 4-story structure with 295 parking stalls, seven townhomes and 4,680 square feet of retail space fronting Isenberg.

The tower plan doesn’t align with the site’s preservation zoning, but DHHL isn’t subject to county zoning rules. The plan, however, will go through a state environmental review process with an environmental assessment slated to begin soon.

If plans proceed smoothly, DHHL anticipates the tower can be finished in mid-2024.

Monthly rental rates are estimated to range from $633 for studios to $3,133 for 3-bedroom townhomes.

William Aila Jr., DHHL’s director, said in a statement that the project will allow beneficiaries to live in Honolulu’s urban core at below- market rental rates while awaiting an opportunity to receive a homestead lot for $1 a year.

“We know many of our applicants are paying Honolulu’s high market rents, making it difficult to prepare for their future homestead opportunity,” he said. “DHHL’s hope is that this affordable rental option not only provides the circumstance for our families to financially ready themselves, but also the convenience of being closer to jobs and schools. Another hope of the development is to bring relief to some of the older members of our community through affordable housing opportunities.”

DHHL has about 28,000 Native Hawaiians on its waiting list for homestead lot leases, but not everyone on the list is prepared to build a home.

The agency stated last year that fewer than 27% of applicants could make a 10% down payment for a $150,000 house on a homestead lot, and that about 5% of applicants would prefer an affordable rental.

Historically, DHHL wasn’t able to offer rental housing under agency rules. But that changed last year with a long-discussed administrative rule revision.

DHHL has owned the Bowl-O-Drome property since 1995 via a transfer from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources as part of a legal settlement over payments owed to DHHL over use of state land.

Bowling operations on the site, which dated to 1955, ended in 2004, though DHHL has been contemplating redevelopment of the property since at least 2002.

DHHL received five proposals in response to its request last year, and the Carr- Hawaiian Dredging partnership received the top score from an evaluation committee consisting of three DHHL staff, an economics consultant and a representative from DHHL’s Papakolea community.

Under the proposal, the private development partnership will own and manage the complex for up to 65 years under a land lease. DHHL is not spending money to develop the tower. The development partnership is expected to finance the project partly through a low-interest state loan and state and federal low-income housing tax credits sold to investors.

One Response

  1. $3100.00 for a 3 bedroom townhouse is affordable and $600.00 plus for a studio is affordable to your own Hawaiian people!?
    They can’t buy a $150,000.00 home because of the down payment yet, This is affordable to them?
    Mr.Aila you really need to search your heart.???

    Like

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