Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 23, 2005

Ala Moana Hotel units sell briskly

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer


The first of about 3,000 people interested in owning a room at the Ala Moana Hotel began selecting units and signing sales contracts at the 1,150-room project this week.

The turnout of about 200 buyers was the initial batch of lucky contestants randomly selected from the group of more than 3,000 — two-thirds of whom will be left out of the frenzied buying of the latest "condotel" project to hit Hawai'i's out-of-control real estate market.

"It was quite exciting," said Kathryn Acorda-Strona, regional marketing director for Crescent Heights, the Miami-based luxury condominium developer that bought the underperforming hotel next to Ala Moana Center from Japanese firm Azabu USA in October for $85 million.

Crescent Heights is renovating the property and selling its rooms, which most buyers typically continue to rent to visitors using hotel-management firms, though a relative few have taken up residence in so-called condotels.

Close to 3,500 hotel rooms in Hawai'i have been converted to condotel use since 2001, and the Ala Moana Hotel is the largest single conversion to date.

The project was announced in February. About 3,000 buyers made $10,000 deposits — about $30 million collectively — in mid-June for a crack at purchasing a unit.

On Thursday, the first group of about 200 randomly selected interested buyers got the chance to select and purchase units, which were restricted to one per person. Not many passed up the chance.

"Every single person that came in, for the most part, bought something," Acorda-Strona said.

Typical studio units — from 246 square feet to 345 square feet with a mini refrigerator and microwave toaster oven — sold for about $120,000 and higher. The roughly 560-square-foot, one-bedroom units with kitchenettes are selling for about $500,000. Monthly maintenance fees are about $385.

Three other groups of 150 to 200 buyers will be selected to purchase units over three days next week. Though the project sales office remains open, remaining units will continue to be offered first to people randomly selected from the group of 3,000 who made deposits.

The first sales are expected to close in 30 to 45 days. Renovation work is expected to be complete by the middle of next year. The hotel is continuing normal operations during renovations and sales.