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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 6, 2006

New Ko Olina hotel planned

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

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A Florida development firm has bought beachfront property at Ko Olina Resort & Marina to develop a luxury condominium hotel that it hopes to brand with the Donald Trump name.

Miami-based Crescent Heights said it plans to develop the 16-story condotel later this year with 400 to 500 units on eight acres fronting Lagoon No. 3 next to the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club time-share.

The project would be the second hotel at Ko Olina, and would boost the revival of the once-stalled master-planned West O'ahu resort that has seen mostly residential and time-share development in the last few years.

"Having this project at Ko Olina is a prestigious and meaningful step forward for us," Ko Olina master developer Jeff Stone said in a statement.

As a so-called condotel, the project would operate as a hotel but with units sold to individual investors who have an option to include their units in an on-site hotel management operation. Typically, few condotel buyers use their units as residences or independently rent them to visitors.

Crescent Heights anticipates selling studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units this summer, though it is too early to estimate prices, according to Kathryn Acorda, company regional marketing director.

Construction is projected to be finished in 2008.

Crescent Heights said it is in "early discussions" to partner with New York developer Trump to operate the hotel under one of his brands such as Trump International.

A Trump representative in New York could not be reached after business hours yesterday for comment.

If negotiations are successful with Trump, the Ko Olina condotel likely would be the second Trump-branded property in Hawai'i.

Another developer, California-based Irongate Capital Partners, has been working on a luxury residential condo in Waikiki affiliated with Trump. People familiar with that project, on Saratoga Road next to the Waikiki Beach Walk redevelopment by Outrigger Enterprises, said the Irongate high-rise still involves Trump and is moving forward.

Trump has developed some of the most lavish and pricey condos, and is working on several condotel projects including ones in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Las Vegas, where unit prices at the Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas earlier this year ranged from the $600,000s to more than $6 million.

Crescent Heights is a luxury condo developer that has focused on high-end residential condos as well as some hotel conversions to condotels, selling about $3 billion worth of condos at about 50 properties, mostly on the Mainland.

The company entered the Hawai'i market three years ago with the purchase of two undeveloped condo sites in Kaka'ako, and last month completed the Ko'olani luxury high-rise, which it plans to follow with a neighboring tower in late spring or early summer.

Crescent Heights also bought the Ala Moana Hotel in 2004 and has been selling remodeled rooms as condotel units.

At Ko Olina, the company paid about $60 million for the 8-acre beachfront parcel, according to property records.

Acorda said the company chose to develop at Ko Olina because it is a good complement to O'ahu's primary resort market, Waikiki. "Crescent Heights focuses on high-end resort and residential living," she said.

F. Kevin Aucello, hotel division director for local real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis Hawai'i Inc., said condotels have been a popular way in recent years to help finance development of new hotels on the Mainland, and are a good way to add new visitor accommodations in Hawai'i.

"It'll add a little more synergy to the resort ... and help expand Hawai'i's visitor plant," he said.

Ko Olina originally was envisioned in the mid-1970s by developer Herbert Horita as a $2 billion resort with 10 hotels, a golf course, marina and 3,000 homes.

Horita completed one hotel, four lagoons, a golf course and 280 townhomes before development stalled in the early 1990s. Stone acquired the resort with partners in 1999 and revised the master plan toward lower-density development.

Since then, Stone has attracted a 750-unit Marriott time-share that is almost half complete and several hundred vacation homes. The most recent project to be announced is a planned 247-unit beachfront condo by Centex Destination Properties, where initial units sold late last year for an average of about $2.5 million.

Stone also is planning to develop an aquarium financed by up to $75 million in state tax credits. Early last year, Stone announced plans for a 1,000-room hotel and condo called the Grand Ko Olina Resort Hotel & Spa, which was to surround the aquarium. But that estimated $1 billion project has not moved forward as planned.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.