Lisa Mitchell appeared before the Hawaii Community Development Authority Wed. worried that the Howard Hughes Corporation was asking to build less workforce housing if it built rentals instead of fee simple condos.
Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.
"We need more affordable housing, not less and we want to make sure that we get as much affordable housing as necessary," said Mitchell.
Just days after filing a petition with the HCDA asking if it was possible to switch the focus of is its highrise at Ward and Halekauwila to affordable rentals instead of fee simple condos, the company pulled back.
Senior vice president David Striph tried to correct any impression its filing may have left that it was more focused on luxury units, than on what most Hawaii residents could afford.
"Under no circumstances were we going to change the number of units at 988 Halekauwila, nor were we going to request to build fewer reserve units at Ward Village. We were simply trying to understand the rules as it applied to us," said Striph.
Striph said the request was tied to the project financing of 988 Halekawila.
He added that their research showed that there are five times more people interested in renting than buying.
"This is reserve housing tower and there are certain rules that apply and all we were doing was to clarify what the rules are," said Striph.
"Historically, developers don't like to do rentals. So, there hasn't been many projects. It's been typically for sale. So, the fact that someone is interested in potentially doing rentals, it would make sense to have our rules abundantly clear," said HCDA executive director Tony Ching.
The HCDA board is reviewing its reserve housing policy, and Ching indicated there could be changes ahead.
The company said it plans to start construction on the Halekauwila tower next year.
It may still refile its request, but will reach out to the community first to prevent any backlash.
Howard Hughes Corporation is asking to build two additional towers at Ward Warehouse with many more highrises still possible under its master plan.