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Affordable rentals, condo-hotel project headed to Honolulu City Council for approval

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A Los Angeles-based developer is proposing to build a condo-hotel project and affordable senior rental units in Honolulu. This Wednesday Honolulu City Council is expected to vote on whether to move forward with the project.

As part of the city's transit-oriented development plan, the proposed condo-hotel will be located within a quarter-mile of the planned Ala Moana rail station.

The development includes 78 new affordable senior rental units, along Kapiolani Boulevard. The affordable units are part of developer Salem Partners' plan to construct a condo-hotel on the site of the former Heald College building.

"Right next to Walgreen's there is a parking lot and so we're going to make more parking there and the affordable housing units will be above that parking lot and then the hotel will be just adjacent next to it," City Councilmember and Zoning and Housing Committee Chair, Kymberly Marcos Pine said. 

The 1.8 acre site on Kapiolani Boulevard will include 444 hotel units and six penthouse residential units. There will also be more than 500 parking stalls.

Mufi Hannemann, who heads the Hawai'i Lodging & Tourism Association expressed his support for the condo-hotel project saying "it addresses a need in our community in an appropriate setting."

"Affordable's good," Hawaiian Sweet Potato Factory employee, Jordan Baldovi said. "More business for us for everybody here so I think that's always a plus."

Still some residents say they're worried about added density.

"I don't know, Look at these.. just too many buildings,"  Honolulu resident, Hikaru Yamashita said. 

"As long as they can figure out the parking in that area," added Honolulu resident John Ramsay.

EAH Housing is assisting with construction of the 78-affordable housing units. They'll be for seniors earning less than 80 percent of area median income, which is just under *$59,000 for a single person. Under conditions of the proposal, those units must be kept as affordable for 60 years.

 "We haven't seen affordable in this affordability level in decades" Pine said. 

Pine says the project received recent approval from the Council's Zoning & Housing committee.

Salem Partners issued the following statement:

“We’re grateful to Councilmember Pine and the other committee members for working with us to improve the development and come up with a win-win opportunity for both the community and the project. We look forward to continuing to work with the City and the broader community as we proceed through the approvals process for 1500 Kapiolani.”

A spokesperson for Salem Partners mentioned it will offer the only affordable housing/hotel combo in the state. A total cost for the project was not given.

The project now heads to city council for primary approval. 

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