Civil Beat explains the real story. Details here…
2nd Tower opposed by Waikiki Neighborhood Board Details here…
This site is to alert everyone in and around Waikiki, and anyone who’s concerned about a massive condo-tel (hotel) being planned, with a wall-like Diamond Head / Ewa orientation (parallel to the ocean) with 361 ocean facing units. That’s right! No units on the back and no units on the side. Absolutely no concessions by the Developer for public and private mauka/makai views in planning their allowed density.
Both of these massive walls have been approved by Mr. George Atta, Director of the Honolulu’s Department of Permitting and Planning. And what we strongly feel is a clear matter of ethics, the previous Director, Mr. David Tanoue left the DPP in October 2012, half way through the approval and permitting process of Tower 1, in order to work on preparing the Draft Environmental Assessment for Tower 2 as vice president of R.M. Towill Corp, who is the firm hired by PACREP the developer of Towers 1 and 2. Yes, that’s right! This whole thing STINKS! Not only have there been large contributions to elected city officials (Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council members) who are all involved and highly influential in the approval of these towers, but to top it off, the DPP Director David Tanoue is now the vice president in charge of preparing the DEA of Tower 2 for the developer. Can anyone not believe that David Tanoue’s early actions with allowing the DEA to proceed as far as it did have anything to do with the fact that he was preparing to leave the DPP in order to work on Tower 2 for a private firm? David Tanoue was acting director of the DPP during the Summer of 2012, – the period where the community and the Waikiki Neighborhood Board wrote many letters to the DPP objecting to Tower 1’s plans and their lack of adherence to the WSD Guidelines which clearly state that all new towers should be built perpendicular to the ocean, not parallel. This is clearly a case where the City sided with big business and ignored the community and citizens who were simply asking the city to adhere to the WSD guidelines and require that Tower 1 be built more perpendicular in order to “minimize” the adverse impacts of private and public views and Waikiki’s scenic assets. Now Waikiki residents and tourists will have a large blockage of scenic resources which would not have been the case if the DPP had followed the WSD guidelines and required a narrower tower that did not have 100% ocean facing units and therefore give the developer, PACREP a clear economic advantage.
In addition, this approval by the Honolulu DPP sets a strong precedent and justification for other developers to build more walls.
This massive “wall” will block ocean and mountain views from streets, parks and thousands of residences. The image above is not exaggerated. The planned wall-like tower will shoot up right behind Tiffany’s and tower 350-feet over Kalakaua (same height as the Trump Tower), looking very similar to the center photo, which is taken from Saratoga Road near the Post Office. Please see the Images page for more visuals of how this behemoth structure will dominate the skyline and block sky, sunlight, natural ventilation, and ocean and mountain scenery from multiple viewpoints for years to come. This is reckless city planning!
If this project is built as planned, with a wall type orientation, it will completely block any possible ocean views for the entire street block behind it, and discourage any other redevelopment mauka-side of the site from being built, which would have no chance of even a partial ocean view. Many areas in Waikiki still contain old, dilapidated buildings due to this very same thing: poor planning of high-rises which discourage any redevelopment behind them.
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Many residents expected a high-rise building of some sort to be built on the empty lot at 2121 Kuhio Ave, but most were shocked to learn that such a massive “wall” that stretches across the lot, is parallel to the coast, and 350 feet tall, was being touted as “A Done Deal” at the May 8, 2012 Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting. This meeting was the first time anyone had presented to the community what the structure was going to look like. And yet, it is being told by some people, that it is “already approved”. (Whoa, wait a minute! Read on…)
Most people were sure that buildings of this type (ala: The Sheraton, Ilikai, Marco Polo), which block out a large portion of the view plane, especially near the ocean, were a thing of the past. Blocking out large sections of the horizon, sky, sunsets, oceans and parks, is costly to the value of other existing properties, and also future developments, while it maximizes profits for a single developer. It’s better for several buildings to have a partial view of the ocean, rather than only 1 building having the entire view.
This not only affects the ocean view, but also the view of the mountains from boats and beach parks. Wall type structures are impossible to see through from any angle, whereas, a few narrow structures can provide partial views from different angles. This is just common sense.
Is this Community Sensible planning?
Whether you enjoy seeing the ocean and sunsets from your homes, or the beautiful Manoa Valley mountains from the parks, beach and the ocean, this is something we need to try to prevent. Lateral, wall type structures do not make good sense, and the city needs to hear it.
It took many of us by surprise, including several Board members, and residents who live in several condo buildings directly behind this lot, that Rick Egged (President, Waikiki Improvement Association) was touting this as “Good for Waikiki”.
Many people agree that blocking a wide view plane of several buildings and future projects for the sake of one huge commercial condotel to be targeted to foreign investors, is “NOT” what Waikiki or any beach community needs.
To be specific, we are not arguing against developing a high-rise building on this empty lot. But rather, we are arguing that it should be built with a perpendicular orientation in accordance with the Waikiki Special District Guidelines, and like the previous Owner’s plans which were approved by the Waikiki Neighborhood Board and the City in 2006.
What is a Condotel?
The new building is planned to be 100% condotel, with “no” residential units. A condotel is a condominium project that is operated as a hotel with a registration desk, cleaning service and more. The units are individually owned. Unit owners also have the option to place their unit in the hotel’s rental program where it is rented out like any other hotel room.
For many residents, a condotel is not a viable alternative to owning and living in a residential condominium. Condotels are extremely difficult to obtain a loan from a bank on. Many banks refuse to offer loans on them at all. They are considered by banks as risky investments with very low owner-occupancy. Also, living in a condotel means a lifestyle that is far from residential where you know and trust your neighbors. It usually entails maids and carts in the hallways and elevators, neighbors who are constantly changing in and out, and a very limited number of parking spaces, since there are no residential units being offered.
The developers have no plans to offer any residential type units in the new building. Instead they plan to have 361 condotel units with only 1 parking space for every 4 units.