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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 23, 2006

Panel OKs 'A'ala Tower

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

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The city Planning Commission approved a zoning change for a proposed 22-story condominium tower across from 'A'ala Park yesterday, allowing the Mainland developer to move forward with its midrange-priced project.

Developer 3D Investments LLC is asking the city to rezone two adjoining properties at 230 and 254 N. Beretania St. from B-2 community business to BMX-3 community mixed use.

Consultant Keith Kurahashi, who represents 3D Investments owned by the Daneshgar family of Beverly Hills, Calif., said the change would allow for a mixed commercial and condo project.

Kurahashi said the area's proximity to downtown and the booming real-estate market makes it a good time for this project to be built.

"I think it is an area that hasn't been totally developed," he said. "And there is a good, strong condo market."

For years, the 'A'ala area was considered dangerous and run down until the city completed a $2.3 million park renovation project in 2003. Homeless people still live in and around the park, but with new basketball courts, a skateboard rink, playground equipment and a general cleanup, the park is more family friendly.

Other developers also are finding the area a good place to build. A development group called Downtown Affordables completed a 23-story, 251-unit affordable-condominium project called 215 N. King Street last year on the makai side of the park. The units quickly sold out.

Also close by is a planned 13-story affordable-housing development for seniors near the historic O'ahu Railway & Land Terminal building, financed through the state Housing and Community Development Corp. and being developed by Pacific Housing Assistance Corp.

The fee-simple 3D condo project would have businesses on the ground floor, with 204 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments on 21 floors, Kurahashi said.

If necessary approval is given by the end of the year, construction would begin in the first or second quarter of 2007, he said. Kurahashi would not release an estimated unit cost or cost of the project, but said the project would be in the mid-range rather then high-end.

The property stretches from College Walk to 'A'ala Street along Beretania Street. A two-story commercial building on the property, called the Town Square, would be torn down, along with the now-closed Kobayashi Hotel, which is in a separate four-story building on the property.

The Town Square is home to 19 small businesses and restaurants.

City planner Matt Higashida said plans show the 184-foot-tall project will include 7,255 square feet of commercial space and 211,828 square feet of residential. There will be 460 parking stalls, and 30 percent of the units will be set aside for affordable sales.

The city requires developers to include affordable units when a zoning change is needed for a residential development.

The project now moves to the City Council for approval.

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com.