On May 8, 2012 the Developers (PACREP), presented what they called a “courtesy presentation” of their plans to develop a new 350 foot tower called “2121 Kuhio Tower” at the Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting. (See meeting video link on the “News & Events” page). Several people including some of the Board members expressed their strong disappointment in the building design, specifically that it will be oriented “parallel”, not perpendicular, to the ocean, and will obstruct the fullest extent of the view plane possible on this lot. Including, extending over the top of the existing service driveway off of Kuhio, to the allowed limits of the other end of the lot. (See Images page for visuals).
As many of you may recall a few years ago in 2006 to 2008, the previous owner presented a much more community sensible plan, which oriented the building “perpendicular” to the ocean and mountains. That plan was voted on and approved by the Waikiki Board, but fell apart due to the burst of the housing bubble and the beginning of troubles in the economy, which hurt other development projects also.
This new building orientation and plan was told to everyone at the meeting by the developers that it is “already approved”, and some said that it is a “done deal”. Yet, this is the first time it was presented to the community.
It was also stated at the Board meeting by Rick Egged, executive director of the Waikiki Improvement Association, that “This building is what Waikiki needs”. Many people disagreed that a wide “wall” type structure is something that Waikiki needs, and applause was heard on several occasions when people spoke up and expressed their disappointment with the building design and the reasons given by the developers. The reasons given by the developers using slide shows and a laser pointer, were to “preserve the view of Diamond Head from Punchbowl and for pedestrians and motorists’ view of Diamond Head on Kalakaua”.
These reasons given by the developers as “justification” for the parallel design and blocking of a large view plane between the ocean and mountains, was immediately expressed by one of the Board members as not being up-front and truthful with the community. After the Board member finished expressing his frustration with their reasons and how it was being presented, the audience broke into applause.
At the Waikiki Neighborhood meeting, the developers said that their main argument for building a wall-like structure parallel to the ocean, as opposed to a narrow/perpendicular structure is that it provides more of a view of Diamond Head when entering Waikiki on Kalakaua Blvd. Please take a look at this photo, and you’ll see that, contrary to their argument, it will not save any view of Diamond Head when entering Waikiki on Kalakaua Blvd. From this public viewpoint at the intersection of Kalakaua and Ala Moana, you already cannot see Diamond Head due to the Gateway Hotel and other high-rises. The argument that the developer’s plans provide the least amount of blockage of Diamond Head from Kalakaua, is ridiculous and should not outweigh the fact that this proposed wall will block out a huge portion of ocean and mountain views from mauka/makai directions for many existing residential buildings, and also any possible new residential developments behind it.
How were these plans approved?
So who approved these plans, and doesn’t the community have a say in this? Why is the city allowing large sections of the view plane to be blocked out, when there are rules in place to prevent this? Everyone agrees that large wall-like structures such as the Sheraton, Marco Polo and others, should be a thing of the past. Not only do they sacrifice large sections of the view planes for many other buildings, but they also discourage future redevelopment behind them, while blocking out sunlight and casting large shadows on parks, streets, and nearby buildings.
This 350 foot tall building (same height as the Trump Tower), will be an eye sore and cast a dark shadow across Kalakaua and Fort Derussy for years to come. It will adversely affect the ocean and sunset view for thousands of residents and all the way back to the mountains, and also block the view from the ocean and Fort Derussy looking towards the Manoa Valley mountains.
Is this what we want? To sacrifice the view plane of many, in order to maximize profits for a single condo-hotel developer so they can have all ocean facing units, and sell them to foreign investors?
The community needs to make their voices heard immediately. Construction is already planned to begin in March, 2013.
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