Developers vie to build Honolulu’s tallest high-rise

Published On: Nov 20 2012 04:49:59 PM HST   Updated On: Nov 21 2012 07:07:29 AM HST

The Honolulu Community Development Authority  held its first public hearing on 690 Pohukaina, which would offer affordable housing for working families.

It would be Honolulu's first real super tower.

At 650 feet, it would be 250 feet higher than anything else on our skyline. And that doesn’t sit well with some people. 

"A 650-foot building would be an unwelcome intrusion on the skyline.  We don't need an iconic building, Hawaii is already iconic enough as it is," said Bob Loy, who is with the Outdoor Circle.

Others fear this will trigger a wall of super towers.

And they argue, we already have zoning laws, setback restrictions and shoreline protections that are in place for a reason.

"The past tells us, the exemptions soon become the norm,” said Honolulu resident Duane Preble.

Support for a super tall tower came from one group who advocates for affordable housing for the poor and elderly.

"With a great deal of reluctance, we support going beyond the height restriction, but doing it with as much care as possible," said Rev. Bob Nagata, who is with FACE-- Faith, Action for Community Equity.

The two developers vying for bragging rights for Honolulu’s tallest tower, which would cost around $500 million, came in willing to negotiate on a two tower scenario, or ONE very tall one.

"What we are proposing is a residential apartment community. We aren't intending to purchase the land we aren’t intending to purchase the land. We are not intending on selling any units," said Forest City President, Job Wallenstrom.

There is the potential in Kakaako for about two dozen high-rises.  Some question with so many planned, why the affordable housing options have to mean the height limit has to soar.

The Lend Lease development team is only interested in building to sell, with half of its units set aside as affordable.

"Those projects are only going to satisfy 18 percent of that need. If we are selected as developer, and get to build out the full project as we have master planned, we are going to satisfy another 33 percent of that need," said Lend Lease Development Manager Lee Cranmer.

The HCDA will make a decision on the project on Dec. 13, which is also the second public hearing on the project.

There will be two other opportunities for the public to attend a briefing on the proposed developments on Nov. 29, and Dec. 1.


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