A highly contested proposed high rise known as 801 South St Tower B has sold all of its 410 units to Hawaii residents despite concerns about the project’s affordability and impact on the area’s infrastructure.

Over 80 percent of the buyers earn 140 percent of Honolulu’s area median income or less, according to the project’s developer Marshall Hung. The Hawaii Community Development Authority mandated that 75 percent of the units to be sold to people within that income level.

The project inspired protests last fall as some Kakaako residents spoke out against the project’s potential impact on the area’s traffic, sewer capacity and other infrastructure. Many were concerned about whether the units would be affordable or whether they would actually be sold to Hawaii residents.

801 South St Tower Kakaako HCDA

A sign advertises 801 South St. Tower A in Kakaako.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

A one-bedroom unit in the tower sold for about $350,000, with three bedrooms selling for about $700,000. More than 90 percent of those who purchased the apartments will be owner-occupants.

As the last project the state approved during 2013, a year that saw a sharp increase in development activity in Kakaako, the tower became a target for critics frustrated with the fast pace of new high rise projects. Members of the condo association of the neighboring Royal Capital Plaza even filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the tower’s approval.

Community opposition to 801 South St. Tower B and other towers eventually led to the passage of House Bill 1866 this year, which changes the composition of HCDA, as well as some of its rules, in an effort to make the agency more accountable to the public.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said the sold-out units illustrate the success of the state’s effort to revitalize Kakaako.

“This project demonstrates our commitment to provide affordable workforce housing  for our local residents,” he said in a press release. “Our vision for the urban core to create a vibrant and sustainable community for kamaaina to live, work and play is succeeding.”

Construction is scheduled to begin this year and finish in 2016.

About the Author