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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 18, 2001

Kapi'olani condo plans proceed

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Hawai'i unit of a South Korean steel company is pushing ahead with long-stalled plans to build a roughly $60 million senior-living or moderate-to-upscale condominium on the corner of Kapi'olani Boulevard and Ward Avenue.

Posec Hawaii Inc., owned by Pohang Iron and Steel Co., bought the 1.3-acre property on the makai-diamondhead side of the intersection in 1995.

As the local residential market shifted, the firm changed development plans from a luxury condo, Emerald Tower, to a senior-living high-rise, The Renaissance at Kapi'olani. But in 1998, trouble in the South Korean economy and a disputed impact fee calculated by the state inhibited the start of construction.

Now Posec is seeking a joint-venture partner to move the project ahead using either design. Company secretary/treasurer Robert Lee said Posec recently received two proposals from a Hawai'i firm and an Alaskan firm to help develop a tower.

"It wasn't strong enough so we decided not to take those proposals," Lee said. Another meeting is being scheduled with a local developer, he added.

Lee said a market study commissioned last year from local real estate appraisal firm John Child & Co. revived Posec's optimism for building the project.

"We already hit the bottom so there is no way to go further down," he said. "We know it has to come back up."

Other developers have expressed confidence in central Honolulu's condominium market recently and are advancing their own development plans.

Nauru Phosphate Royalties (Honolulu) Development Inc. last year cited a strengthened market for moving up its timetable to build its third luxury high-rise in Kaka'ako. The project, similar to the $110 million Hawaiki Tower, is scheduled to break ground later this year.

In April, Dallas-based apartment developer JPI divulged plans to buy a nearly 1-acre parcel in downtown Honolulu and start construction on an estimated $75 million luxury rental apartment tower possibly by the end of the year.

More recently, a partnership led by the principals of Honolulu-based Stringer Tusher Architects began soliciting a development partner for a 35-story residential/office high-rise downtown, though the firm is also interested in selling the parcel.

Posec's plans are for either a 20-story, 180-unit senior-living condominium with a skilled-nursing facility, or a traditional 28-story, 178-unit residential tower.

Fee-simple unit prices for the senior-living condo would run between $300,000 and $500,000. Prices for Emerald Tower units would range from the high-$200,000s to low-$400,000s.

Moving ahead with either design depends on finding a joint-venture partner. Financing would be sought from lending institutions, Lee said.

Andrew Gomes can be reached by phone at 525-8065, or by e-mail at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.