City Plaza gets ap­proval to be­come a con­do­minium

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Gor­don Y.K. Pang gor­don­pang@starad­ver­tiser.com

The de­vel­op­ers of the Hawaii City Plaza con­do­minium tower in the Keeaumoku area have been given the go-ahead by the Honolulu City Coun­cil, de­spite lin­ger­ing ill feel­ings to­ward the de­vel­op­ers by some Coun­cil mem­bers and con­cerns by com­mu­nity mem­bers that the ap­proval was rushed.

The Coun­cil voted 8-1 Wed­nes­day to ap­prove Res­o­lu­tion 17-305, giv­ing Hawaii City Plaza LP ap­proval for a 250-foot-high, mixed-use tower on Sheri­dan Street that would have 164 mul­ti­fam­ily dwellings and com­mer­cial space. Coun­cil­man Joey Mana­han voted “no.”

The de­vel­oper agreed to des­ig­nate 33 of the units as “af­ford­able” rentals that will be mar­keted for those mak­ing no more than 30 per­cent of area me­dian in­come for a min­i­mum of 30 years.

The project is slated for 39,520 square feet along the Ewa side of Sheri­dan Street, behind the Wal­mart-Sam’s Club shop­ping com­plex. The area is cur­rently home to sev­eral one- and two-story ware­houses.

The Coun­cil ap­proval al­lows the de­vel­oper to build higher and more densely than per­mit­ted un­der cur­rent law. The 250foot tower is 100 feet taller than the cur­rent 150-foot limit while the 5.0 max­i­mum floor-to-area ra­tio, or den­sity, would give Hawaii City Plaza about 74,414 square feet more of de­vel­opable space than now al­lowed for a to­tal of 197,600 square feet.

The tower is the third, and lat­est, con­do­minium tower ap­proved for the Keeaumoku-Ka­pi­olani area within the vicin­ity of the planned Ala Moana rail sta­tion. What dis­tin­guishes this project is that it’s not on Keeaumoku Street or Ka­pi­olani Boule­vard.

Dur­ing a May com­mit­tee meet­ing, Coun­cil­man Ikaika An­der­son asked Hawaii City Plaza prin­ci­pal Jay Fang if more than half of the project’s units were sold or be­ing mar­keted to in­vestors from China pro­vid­ing

fi­nan­cial back­ing for the tower’s con­struc­tion. Fang re­sponded that the in­vestors did not have a pri­or­ity right or reser­va­tion to buy Hawaii City Plaza units, but also gave other an­swers that were vague.

An­der­son said he did not think it in the best in­ter­est of the city for the Coun­cil to ap­prove a project that would not help Honolulu res­i­dents dur­ing a hous­ing crunch.

Sev­eral days af­ter that May meet­ing, Fang and his fa­ther John­son Fang emailed An­der­son and other Coun­cil mem­bers de­scrib­ing An­der­son’s com­ments as “racial re­marks” that vi­o­lated fed­eral laws, and threat­en­ing to call on Chi­nese na­tion­als to boy­cott Hawaii as a vis­i­tor des­ti­na­tion if the project was not ap­proved.

The Fangs have since said that many of their state­ments were mis­un­der­stood due to a lan­guage bar­rier.

Mana­han ques­tioned Fang about the email be­fore Wed­nes­day’s vote.

Mana­han said the email con­tained re­marks that were “rather deroga­tory of this body.”

Jay Fang again chalked up the re­marks to “a mis­un­der­stand­ing.”

Mana­han shot back: “I thought you com­mu­ni­cated your griev­ances pretty well.”

Lloyd Yo­ne­naka, a di­rec­tor with pub­lic re­la­tions firm Com­mPac, also sought to ex­plain the Fangs’ ear­lier com­ments. “If you don’t have all of the vo­cab­u­lary, it’s re­ally very dif­fi­cult. And we apol­o­gize pro­fusely if any­one was of­fended,” he said. “The in­tent from the very begin­ning of this project is to pro­vide some­thing that is ben­e­fi­cial to the City and County of Honolulu, which is af­ford­able hous­ing, which is eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, which is jobs.”

Four Oahu res­i­dents raised ob­jec­tions to the Coun­cil speed­ing up the vote for the project — Zon­ing Com­mit­tee ap­proval for the project was given Tues­day — but their con­cerns didn’t slow the ap­proval.

COURTESY OF HAWAII CITY PLAZA LP

A planned project for a 250-foot Hawaii City Plaza on Sheri­dan Street across the Keeaumoku Wal­mart-Sam’s Club com­plex won ap­proval from the Honolulu City Coun­cil Wed­nes­day.

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