Imperial Plaza residents oppose new affordable high-rise

803 Waimanu St. project draws fire from neighbors

Published  4:35 PM HST May 01, 2013
Waimanu high rise
HONOLULU -

The proposed affordable high-rise is called 803 Waimanu.

It is a 27-story tower with 192 units that would sit on a parcel bounded by Waimanu and Kawaiahao streets.

That's right next to the Imperial Plaza complex.

It is too close, say many residents, because the developer is asking to go beyond the height limit and be as close as 38 feet from the Plaza.

"I call it loopholes, exemptions to rules because it's workforce housing.  I am not against workforce housing, but such a big building on such a small space is definitely trouble," said resident Bernard Nunies.

Nunies testified before the board that oversees the Kaka'ako area.

"Can you imagine waking up in the morning and seeing your neighbor eating breakfast, what clothes they are wearing?” Nunies asked the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Another resident who characterizes the new tower as -- a first down away -- said access to his apartment would be too close for comfort.

"They are building on top of our  living space.  There is no separation from our lanai and their recreation deck so basically they can jump right into our lanai if they want to," said Eddie, a resident who didn’t want his last named used.

And others cautioned against allowing so many variances.

"You will be establishing a lower standard," said Pam Moore.

And businesses along Kawaiahao worry about traffic impacts during and after construction.

"It is going to impact the traffic flow on this street, which is already impacted with parking.  If we have a lot of trucks out here, it is going to be a lot worse," said Stewart Chong.

Chong was one of 400 people who signed a petition against the development.

City Councilwoman Carole Fukunaga and Rep. Scott Saiki offered to help set up a meeting with the developer and affected residents to air out their concerns.

"We will work with the neighbors.  We will work to ameliorate any concerns that we can.  The unfortunate thing is, the lot is what it is," said developer Franco Mola.

 It is a fact that may become the norm for the new third city, which has a date with density.

"This is going to happen as we move along and it’s a question of who got there first, and who got there second," Mola said.

Mola hopes to complete construction in 2015.

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