St. Regis Princeville Resort is for sale

Pacific Business News, Dec 2, 2016


 The owner of The St. Regis Princeville Resort and the Makai Golf Club on Kauai’s North Shore is selling its Starwood Hotels and Resorts-managed property, the master developer of the Princeville at Hanalei confirmed to Pacific Business News.

The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association bought the 251-room hotel at the same time Hawaii developer Jeff Stone’s partnership closed its acquisition of the Princeville at Hanalei resort in 2005, after buying it from Suntory Corp.

In 2009, the Princeville Resort was rebranded as Hawaii's only St. Regis hotel after an extensive renovation. The hotel, perched on the cliffs above Hanalei Bay, opened in 1986.

Stone’s The Resort Group is the master developer of Princeville at Hanalei, which spans thousands of acres on the Garden Isle. The Honolulu-based company also is the master developer of the 642-acre Ko Olina Resort master-planned community in West Oahu, which recently added the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts brand.

New York real estate investment banking giant Eastdil Secured has been tapped by the L.A. County Employees Retirement Association, which is represented by Hartford, Connecticut-based Cornerstone Realty Advisors, to market the sale of the St. Regis Princeville Resort and the Makai Golf Club.

Stone told PBN that the L.A. County Employees Retirement Association hired Eastdil Secured to find a buyer for the St. Regis hotel because Starwood's 10-year management agreement is set to expire in May.

The 18-hole Makai Golf Club at the St. Regis, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., opened in 1971 and was redesigned in 2009. The Princeville Resort opened in 1986 as a Sheraton, part of the 9,000-acre Princeville at Hanalei resort. The resort was developed in the 1980s by a partnership of Japanese developers, Suntory Ltd., Mitsui and Co. Ltd. and Nippon Shinpan Co. Ltd.

The hotel was battered in the early 1990s both by Iniki, as well as the Asian economic crisis, which led to the deterioration of the property for much of the 1990s.

The St. Regis is currently one of the largest employers on Kauai with 499 employees, according to PBN research.

Starwood was recently acquired by Marriott International Inc. PBN has reached out to Starwood and the St. Regis hotel for comment.




Humane Society celebrates grand opening of holiday pop-up at Ala Moana with adoptions

KHON2 News, November 5, 2016


  Five dogs and six kittens found forever homes at Ala Moana Center on Saturday, but it wasn’t at a new pet store, but a new pop-up.

The Hawaiian Humane Society held a grand opening of its Whiskers and Wags pop-up retail shop next to Tommy Bahama at Ala Moana.

It’s selling Humane Society logo items like t-shirts, pet treats and the aloha pet hoodie, and it offered dogs and kittens for free adoptions, courtesy of Crazy Shirts.

“We are so excited because they have been wonderful partners with us. They’re a pet-friendly mall, and they allowed us to have this space just for the holidays to help the animals of Oahu,” said Hawaiian Humane Society communications and community events coordinator Suzy Tam.

Whiskers and Wags will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through January 15.
Proceeds benefit the humane society’s mission.



Kauai luxury home to be sold at auction

By James Prichard Web Editor Pacific Business News, 6/23/2016

A Kauai home once showcased on HGTV that recently was on the market with an asking price of $9 million will go up for sale on Platinum Luxury Auctions with a reserve amount of $3 million.

The live auction sale will be held July 23 at the property site in Princeville on the Garden Isle's North Shore. Property previews will begin Monday and be held daily from noon to 4 p.m. until auction day.  A video of the property is available to view.

The property sits on a secluded parcel of more than 1.5 acres. Its elevated location allows for panoramic views of Hanalei Bay and landscape of natural waterfalls and mountains.

Built in 2011 the property consists of a main residence and separate guesthouse.  In total, the home has more than 5,700 square feet of living space, with 4 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half baths, and pair of outdoor showers.

The interiors feature materials that sourced from around the world, including hand-hewn wooden flooring, Indonesian granite, Brazilian mahogany and Italian Stone.  Other amenities include and indoor/outdoor wireless audio system, remote-controlled sunshades and Lutron Grafik Eye custom lighting.  The foyer contains a koi pond, and a wall of glass doors open to large lanai.

The lanai includes a 50-foot saltwater pool and spa, a waterfall and grotto, multiple fire pits and an outdoor kitchen.

In 2015, the home was awarded HGTV's "Favorite Backyard Retreat" as part of the television network's Ultimate House Hunt contest.

The auction marks Platinum's first offering in Hawaii. It is managing the sale in cooperation with Kauai real estate firm Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, which is featured in another HGTV program, "Hawaii Life."



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Sales of luxury homes and condominiums on Oahu rose 13 percent in April 

By Web Editor, James Prichard, Pacific Business News, May 16, 2016 

Sales of luxury homes and condominiums on Oahu rose 13 percent in April, Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties reported Monday.

There were 95 single-family homes and condos on the isle that sold for at least $1 million, up from 84 in April 2015.

The median sales price for the luxury range increased 5.9 percent to $1,395,000 in April, compared with $1,317,500 in the same month last year.

The figures are based on Multiple Listing Service data.

Of the 95 total sales, 76 were in the range of $1 million to $2 million; 13 sold for $2 million to $4 million; and six sold for $4 million-plus, Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties said. The most expensive MLS-recorded home sale of April was a four-bedroom home with 109 feet of ocean frontage in Lanikai for $7.8 million.

“Although the majority of sales are in the $1 million to $2 million price range, there was a slight softness in this price range in April, with a 5 percent decrease in sales from the same period in 2015,” said Patti Nakagawa, Previews International director for Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. “The spike in April sales for single-family homes came from the $2 million to $10 million price range, with double the number of sales, 14 compared to seven last year.”

The median prices rose for all single-family homes and condos sold on Oahu during April. 


Hong Kong developer buys Downtown Honolulu office building 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, May 13, 2016 

A Hong Kong developer that purchased several properties near Ala Moana Center in Honolulu about a year ago has acquired a 10-story downtown office building known as the “Tissue Genesis Tower” for $12 million, Pacific Business News has learned.

Hong Kong-based Qinghua International Holdings Ltd.’s Daxidi International Holdings LLC closed on the purchase of the Tissue Genesis Tower this week, according to multiple sources and the sales deed obtained by PBN.

About a year ago, Qinghua International Holdings bought a nearly 30,000-square-foot parcel at 1338 Kapiolani Blvd. for about $15.3 million, with possible plans to build a high-rise condominium project. Around the same time, the company also purchased 15,000-square-foot property with a 11,470-square-foot building on it at 1356 Kapiolani Blvd. for $6.1 million.

Qinghua International Holdings is looking into possibly building a residential project that would be part of transit-oriented development in the area. The property, which has prime Kapiolani Boulevard frontage, adjoins two streets, Kapiolani Boulevard and Makaloa Street, and includes a one-story building.

The seller of the 72,340-square-foot Tissue Genesis Tower, formerly known as the Clifford Center, at 810 Richards St., was Endless Luck LLC, which has ties to U. Yamane Ltd., a Honolulu real estate company with ties to China. Endless Luck LLC, which is headed by Steven Yamane, paid about$9 million for the mixed-use office tower in February 2015.

Yamane is the founder of Diamond Head Capital Asset Management Ltd. The firm is a partner in Hong Kong’s Trinitus Asset Management Ltd., along with KGI Ltd., the second largest brokerage firm in Taiwan, and publicly-traded Haitong International Investment Management Inc., one of the largest asset management companies in China.

Located on about a half-acre of land at the corner of Richards and Queen streets, across from the main U.S. Post Office, the building is named for one of its larger tenants, Tissue Genesis, a Honolulu cell therapy and regenerative-medicine company.

The property has a total assessed value of $13.2 million, according to city tax records. 



No other Kakaako condo development permits in the pipeline, HCDA chief says 

 Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, May 13, 2016

The high-rise condominium market in the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako seems to be slowing down, as no other development permits are in the pipeline, the head of the state agency regulating development in the area confirmed to PBN.

Kakaako has several mixed-use condo projects that are under construction, including three by The Howard Hughes Corp. and others by Stanford Carr Development, Castle & Cooke Hawaii, Gerding Edlen, Alexander & Baldwin Inc. and Downtown Capital.

Aedward Los Banos, interim executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, told PBN that, while there are several projects under construction, the agency is currently reviewing no other permits for condo projects.

“Talking to developers, the sense has been a rebalancing,” he said. “Relative to the towers, I think people are sharpening their pencils and trying to do something.”

To that end, he reasoned that more affordable housing projects are still in high demand. At least one developer of an existing project in Kakaako is looking to develop such type of housing, he said.

Howard Hughes is looking into developing more workforce housing at its 60-acre Ward Village project in Kakaako.

“Our next set of development plans will include additional housing,” Todd Apo, vice president of community development for Howard Hughes, told PBN.

The developer of Ward Village has the rights to build a little more than 20 residential towers in the area. It already has started construction on its two luxury towers — Waiea and Anaha — as well as on its market-rate tower, Aeo, which will include Hawaii’s flagship Whole Foods Market.


“We’re subject to a cycle and we will see what happens,” Los Banos said. “It’s still going to be pretty active, in terms of development, but different types of developments.” 


Hawaii hotel occupancy falls on every island but Maui 

Reported by Lorin Eleni Gill, Pacific Business News, May 13, 2016 

Hawaii hotel occupancy fell statewide by 1.9 percentage points during the first week of May, taking Hawaii hotels to 73.2 percent occupied, according to Hospitality Advisors and STR’s weekly report.

Average room rates, however, rose on every island. The statewide average daily rate was $233.05, a 4.2 percent gain compared with the same May 1–7 period in 2015.

On Oahu, hotel occupancy fell 2.6 percentage points to 78.6 percent full, while room rates rose 5.4 percent to $216.60 a night on average.

Kauai hotels saw occupancy fall 3.7 percentage points to 63.8 percent occupied, while room rates remained steady, rising just 0.2 percent to $232.21.

Big Island hotel occupancy fell 5.4 percentage points to 55.5 percent, while room rates rose 2.3 percent to $214.61.

Maui hotels were the only ones to see occupancy gains, of 2.1 percentage points to 74.7 percent. Maui room rates rose 2.3 percent to $280.02.

Hospitality Advisors’ weekly hotel report is based on a daily hotel survey generally consisting of approximately 100 properties representing 40,744 rooms, or 71.5 percent of the state’s total hotel rooms for properties with 20 units or more. 


Developer of Kauai time-share project talking to Hyatt 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, May 12, 2016

The developers of a planned beachfront time-share resort on Kauai say they would like the project to open under a Hyatt Hotels Corp. brand.

The developers of a planned beachfront time-share resort on Kauai say they would like the project to open under a Hyatt Hotels Corp. brand.

The “Coconut Beach Resort” — which will include 326 time-share units and six hotel units — is planned for a site between the Courtyard by Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach Hotel and Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy on the Garden Isle.

Mitch Heller, a manager of SPD II Makaiwa Resort Development LLC, the firm that purchased the East Kauai property for an undisclosed price, told PBN that the company has been talking to Hyatt about branding the property under one of Hyatt's brands.

Heller, who previously told PBN about the plans to build the time-share condominium project, said construction is set to start this summer.

“The current plan is to build the whole resort at one time,” Heller said. “A number of units will be purchased by offshore investors.”

He pointed out that a deal is not finalized, and that paperwork for such a deal has yet to be submitted, although the developercertainly hopes to submit an application to Hyatt to finalize the deal.

“We have been talking predominately to Hyatt over the years,” Heller said.

There are already several Hyatt-branded resorts on Kauai, including the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and the planned Hyatt-branded Coco Palms Resort.

The plan for the Coconut Beach Resort on Kauai calls for a series of interconnected two-, three- and four-story buildings.


Heller said plans call for site grading to begin later this summer, with vertical construction work to begin in March or April of next year.

The first section of the building should be completed about 18 months after the start of construction and the remaining buildings should be completed up to 10 months after the first section.

RIM Architects has done the design, but a general contractor has yet to be chosen for the development, which is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and 225 permanent jobs. 


Kakaako plan would include housing near transit stations, grocery stores 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, May 11, 2016 

Hawaii regulators unveiled an update Wednesday for the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako’s transit-oriented development plan calling for diverse residential building types, ground-oriented family housing near transit stations, additional reserved housing, grocery stores, cultural and community amenities, food trucks and spaces for artists.

Deepak Neupane, director of planning and development for the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency regulating development in Kakaako, presented the plan to the HCDA board at a workshop meeting at its offices in Honolulu.

The plan also includes the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and the efficient use of off-street parking. There would be more green buildings, green roofs and walls, as well as slender, sustainable residential towers.

Other elements include creating a well-connected pedestrian network, a complete network of bicycle lanes and establishing a Transportation Management Association.

In November, Gov. David Ige gave his stamp of approval to the final environmental impact statement for the area’s TOD plan, which incorporates urban design, mobility and access, complete streets, rail transit, and parking and transportation demand-management principles to create a compact, walkable and livable community in Kakaako.

The 300-page plan, which covers about 600 acres, now heads to the plan and rule adoption phase. Neupane said there will be workshops and public hearings, among other steps, before a final update is drafted. 


Honolulu luxury penthouse unit comes with trip around the world 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, May 10,2016 

The buyer of the priciest penthouse at the $1 billion Park Lane Ala Moana luxury condominium project being built at Hawaii’s largest shopping center will receive a special bonus from the seller: an around-the-world trip.

Park Lane’s units range in price from $1 million to the upper $20 millions. One of the three penthouses in the project has been sold, B.J. Kobayashi, managing partner of co-developer Kobayashi Group, confirmed to PBN. Whoever buys the costliest penthouse will travel the world with the developers to choose items for the new home.

Located at the Ala Moana Center's new Ewa wing, the seven eight-story buildings will each be 100 feet tall. The buildings will offer a total of 215 units ranging in size from 850 to 6,000 square feet.

Park Lane, which is also being developed by The MacNaughton Group and BlackSand Capital, along with landowner General Growth Properties Inc., is about 77 percent sold, with the largest pool of buyers being Hawaii residents.

The around-the-world trip is not something another nearby developer is doing.

When asked by PBN if it has considered doing the same thing or something similar, Bill Pisetsky, head of residential sales and marketing in Hawaii for The Howard Hughes Corp., said it hasn’t and won’t consider doing such a thing at any of its condo projects at Ward Village.

The Texas developer’s Waiea and Anaha luxury towers, which are currently being built at its 60-acre Ward Village in Honolulu, have only a handful of units left to be sold. 



Hawaii's Aloun Farms buys 500 acres from Dole Food Co. 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, May 10, 2016

West Oahu-based Aloun Farms has purchased nearly 500 acres of agricultural lands in Central Oahu from Dole Food Co., the head of Aloun Farms confirmed to PBN Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. The former site of the pineapple fields operated by Dole and located near the Helemano Military Reservation and Dole Plantation in Wahiawa were being leased by Aloun Farms and Helemano Ranch & Farms, which is owned in majority by Aloun Farms.

The purchase allows Aloun Farms, established more than 20 years ago, to cement its long-term future in the area.

“We have been leasing this land since 2010,” Alec Sou, general manager of Aloun Farms, told PBN. “We’ve always wanted to purchase this land.”

Helemano Ranch & Farms and Aloun Farms plan to continue farming on the property, growing vegetables and fruits to sell locally and abroad.

Melons, onions and pumpkins are among the crops being raised there. Sou said there are opportunities to farm new crops, including orchards of avocados and citrus fruits.

Aloun Farms also leases land for farming at Dole's sister company, Castle & Cooke Hawaii, builders of the 3,500-home Koa Ridge master-planned community. Aloun eventually will phase out its operations at Koa Ridge, Sou said.

Gabe Lee of American Savings Bank handled the financing of the purchase for the buyer. Andres Albano of CBRE Hawaii represented the seller in the deal, while Lauren Lee of NewStar Realty represented the buyer.

Aloun Farms leases 1,700 acres from Castle & Cooke, the Robinson Trust, D.R. Horton and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.


For Sou, the one-time captain of the Punahou School basketball team, his company has come a long way, as did his family, which immigrated to Hawaii from Laos in 1977.

Aloun Farms has customers both in Hawaii and in other states. It exports its Ewa sweet onions to independent stores on the Mainland, including Trader Joe’s, but it keeps most of its produce here.

It is hoping to export its most popular product, Ewa sweet corn, not only to the Mainland but to international markets such as Japan.

Aloun Farms, which is named after Alec’s father, Aloun — Thai for sunrise — started on five acres of leased land in Waianae’s Lualualei Valley. 


 ​Four Seasons Resort Lanai receives AAA Five Diamond rating

Reported by Lorin Eleni Gill, Pacific Business News, May 10, 2016 

The Four Seasons Resort Lanai has received AAA Five Diamond designation, just months after it opened in February following an eight-month closure and multimillion-dollar renovation.

The 217-room resort, which is owned by Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, is now among the 0.4 percent of all AAA-approved hotels that have received the coveted rating. 

“We are humbled and honored to receive this designation and strong vote of confidence while establishing a loyal following of guests for this exciting destination,” said Tom Roelens, general manager. “The AAA Five Diamond Award is a true testament not only to the incredible amenities our resort and the Island of Lanai offers, but to our first-rate team of employees who go above and beyond every day delivering exceptional guest service."

The resort’s restaurant, One Forty, is a AAA Four Diamond eating establishment.

Room rates run from $1,075 to approximately $3,760 a night, with penthouse rates available upon request.

The resort, formerly known as Manele Bay hotel, is also home to the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course, a spa, and retail boutiques such as Missoni, Jimmy Choo and the Lanai Collection.

Other five-diamond hotels in Hawaii include The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, and the Ritz-Carlton at Kapalua. 


Tower near Hawaii Convention Center will include 125 hotel units

 Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, May 4, 2016

A condominium-hotel planned for a corner across from the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu will include 109 condo units and 125 hotel rooms in a 400-foot mixed-use tower, according to public documents filed by the developer.

The 234-unit Manaolana Place Hotel and Residential Condominium Development project at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Atkinson Drive also will include a hotel lobby, residential activity and park areas, a ballroom, a pool and spa, four levels of parking with about 276 spaces, retail and restaurants, according to a permit application filed with the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting.

Developers Jim Ratkovich and Bill Witte have inked a joint-venture agreement with Japan-based Kaijima Kagaku USA Inc. on the Manaolana Place project. Ratkovich is CEO of James Ratkovich & Associates Inc., a Los Angeles-based real estate advisory and development firm that has developed other projects in Hawaii, while Witte is president of Salem Partners, a Los Angeles-based investment bank and wealth management firm, 

Ratkovich and Witte, who formed Manaolana Partners for the development, and Kaijima Kagaku have agreed to combine their properties, which total about 51,000 square feet, to build the 400-foot high-rise project that was first reported by PBN.

Manaolana Partners’ lot is about 36,000 square feet and is located behind the Atkinson Center, which includes such retailers as 7-Eleven, Subway and Supercuts.

Kaijima Kagaku’s lot, which is occupied by the Atkinson Center, is about 15,000 square feet.

A public hearing on the project is scheduled for June 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the Mission Memorial Auditorium in Honolulu. 


Developer cancels contract for large Hawaii solar energy farm 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa,  Pacific Business News, April 28, 2016  

The developers of a large solar energy farm planned for Central Oahu that was rejected by Hawaii regulators last year has officially canceled their project, according to public documents.

The 20-megawatt Hoohana Solar 1 LLC project would’ve been located on about 161 acres of the 504-acre Royal Kunia Phase Two project.

The developers of the project were Forest City subsidiary Forest City Sustainable Resources LLC and Hanwha Q Cells USA, which had invested nearly $4.2 million into the project.

But this week, both the developers and Hawaiian Electric Co. have reached an agreement to nix their power purchase agreement.

The developers attempted to reduce the contract price of the project to $134 per megawatt-hour, down from $159 per megawatt-hour.

The new contract price would be the lowest among all of the seven other solar projects that were part of a utility-scale solar plan by Hawaiian Electric Co.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved four of these solar farms.

“The Hoohana project is fully permitted, has strong community support and can easily be integrated into Hawaiian Electric’s grid at a reasonable cost,” said Jon Wallenstrom, vice president of Forest City Sustainable Energy Resources, in a letter late last year to HECO. “The project would result in significant ratepayer savings.” 


Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki scheduled for June 20 opening

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, April 27, 2016 


The new Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach hotel is scheduled to open on June 20, an executive from the ownership group confirmed to PBN this week.

Last year, the 659-room Ohana Waikiki West hotel was closed for redevelopment by its new owner — a partnership that includes Honolulu’s BlackSand Capital, Boston-based Rockpoint Group and California-based Evolution Hospitality. 

Hilton Worldwide has said that its 623-room Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki hotel will be the first of its kind on Oahu.

The renovation includes a complete overhaul of public spaces and guest rooms, and the room count will fall from 659 to 623. 

Evolution Hospitality, which will be the new management firm of the redeveloped hotel, currently operates a portfolio of 28 hotels, but none in Hawaii until now.

The company said that it intends to recruit locally for all positions of the hotel, with former Outrigger employees given priority to join Evolution Hospitality when the hotel reopens. 

These renovations, which will give the property a contemporary Hawaiian look and add a full-service restaurant and lounge, are the first major upgrade of the property since it opened in 1970. Guest rooms will also be upgraded, as well as the lobby and pool area.

The project is expected to include a Sullivan Family of Cos.-owned Holoholo Cafe and Market. The Sullivan family also owns the Foodland grocery store chain. The cafe is expected to sell food, drinks and sundries.

The hotel is located at 2330 Kuhio Ave., between Nahua and Walina Streets, and across the street from a planned Saks Fifth Avenue department store, which will anchor the International Market project being developed by Taubman Centers Inc. and landowner Queen Emma Land Co.

The Ohana Waikiki West was the 11th largest hotel on Oahu, according to PBN research. 


Honolulu mixed-use tower project 90% sold 

 Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, April 25, 2016

The Howard Hughes Corp. said Monday that about 90 percent of the units at its planned 43-story, 424-unit Ke Kilohana mixed-use tower Honolulu were under contract in the first five days of sales.

Ke Kilohana at 988 Halekauwila Street includes 375 reserved housing units for qualified Hawaii residents, and after receiving 956 completed applications, all of these units were under contract in only about five days.

The project was designed by Los Angeles-based AC Martin and Honolulu’s CDS International. It will include such amenities as a private movie theater, a fitness center with a workout area, a workspace with meeting areas, a karaoke room, a dog stop, a landscaped sky deck with barbecue grills, indoor and outdoor lounges for dinner parties and a 23,000-square-foot Longs Drugs store on the ground floor.

The project is part of Howard Hughes’ 60-acre Ward Village master plan in Kakaako, which also includes two luxury towers — Waiea and Anaha — that are currently under construction. A third tower, Aeo, which will include Hawaii’s flagship Whole Foods Market, also is currently being built.




Honolulu developers interested in re-visiting building in Kakaako

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, April 22, 2016

The MacNaughton Group and Kobayashi Group would like to revisit developing projects in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako again in the future, an executive from one of the Honolulu firms told PBN. 

Earlier this year, the two developers canceled plans to build the Vida at 888 Ala Moana luxury high-rise condominium project and develop a neighboring parcel that would have added a total of 500 residential units to Kakaako.

“Primarily, it was the fact that we got off to a good start with our pre-sales, but over the past three to four months, there was a real slowdown in the market for Vida,” BJ Kobayashi, co-founder and partner of Kobayashi Group, previously told PBN. “Construction costs rising was probably one of the other factors.” 

He also noted that there is stiff competition in Kakaako luxury residential market, where The Howard Hughes Corp. and Alexander & Baldwin Inc. also have projects.

“That doesn’t mean that, in the future, that there won’t be a space that could be absorbed,” Kobayashi said. “In our business, timing is everything.”

Jeff Arce, a partner with The MacNaughton Group, told PBN that when it came to Vida, there were a half dozen factors that led to the decision to not move forward with the project. That said, he noted that the developers did sell a lot of condo units.

Kobayashi pointed out that there are a couple of sites that the two firms are looking at possibly developing, and one of those sites could be a high-rise project. The developers already have built the Hokua condo project in Kakaako and ONE Ala Moana near Ala Moana Center.

“Our hands are full,” he said. “Our firms are always in the market looking for great high-rise sites.” 

The firms are currently in some sort of development phase for two condo projects in Honolulu, including Park Lane Ala Moana, which is under construction at the state’s largest shopping mall, and the 133 Kaiulani condo-hotel project in Waikiki.

Read more about Honolulu's growing luxury condo market in Friday's print edition of PBN. 



Big Island hotel occupancy on drops as room rates rise 

 Reported by Lorin Eleni Gill for Pacific Business News, Apri 22, 2016

Hotel rates on the Big Island rose 10 percent last week, despite hotels seeing the greatest decline in occupancy among all Islands, according to the weekly report from Hospitality Advisors LLC and STR Inc. 

Occupancy on the Big Island dropped 6.6 percentage points to 65.2 percent during the week of April 10 through April 16, compared to the same week a year ago, while the average daily room rate jumped 10.4 percent higher to $250.98 a night.

Statewide, Hawaii hotels were 78.7 percent full, an increase of 1.6 percentage points, and the statewide average daily room rate rose 4.8 percent to $238.86 last week.

Maui hotels saw the greatest occupancy gains during the week, an increase of 5.2 percentage points to 79.7 percent. Maui hotels had the highest average daily rate in the state at $299.68 a night, an increase of 1.5 percent from last year.

On Oahu, the average daily room rate rose 4.8 percent to $209.12 a night, while occupancy rose 2.3 percentage points to 83.7 percent full.

On Kauai, hotels were 66.8 percent full, which was flat compared to a year ago. The average daily rate on Kauai rose 6.8 percent to $248.84 a night.

Hospitality Advisors' weekly report is based on a daily survey that typically includes 100 properties that represent 71.5 percent of the state's total number of hotel rooms. 


Commercial real estate group expanding to Hawaii 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, April 20, 2016 

A California-based networking group that targets the commercial real estate industry, specifically the construction sector, is expanding to Hawaii and looking for board members, one of its members told PBN.

Recon Nexus has chapters in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Sacramento, and a membership comprised solely of professionals directly involved in the procurement and delivery of commercial real estate projects.

Ryan McGuire, a board member of Recon Nexus, told PBN that it has already filled a few spots on its Hawaii board, although it is looking to fill several more spots, including a president for the chapter. All positions on the board are unpaid.

“We’re looking at meeting once a quarter,” McGuire said. “It’s an exciting market and there is a lot of money involved. [The chapter] will be for companies to connect with each other to talk off of the job sites.”

The membership-based organization doesn’t have speeches or speakers and it doesn’t offer an educational component. Instead, the focus will be bringing people together over food and drink.

For instance, The Howard Hughes Corp. donated the event space for its chapter kickoff meeting at the developer’s IBM Building in Honolulu, with the goal of finding local board members to run the chapter.

“In our eyes the event was a success as we had several people reach out to us to join the board,” McGuire said.


US and Hawaii mortgage rates decline to lowest levels of the year 

Reported by Kathleen Gallagher, Pacific Business News, April 19, 2016 

 Despite a significant drop last week, U.S. mortgage rates continued to decline on Tuesday to reach their lowest level of the year. Hawaii mirrored the nation as its rates declined, but with even lower rates.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 3.58 percent for the week ending April 14, down from 3.59 percent the previous week, according to Freddie Mac, our sister publication reported. A year ago, mortgage rates stood at 3.67.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 3.58 percent for the week ending April 14, down from 3.59 percent the previous week, according to Freddie Mac, our sister publication reported. A year ago, mortgage rates stood at 3.67.

In the final three months of 2015 Hawaii had a homeownership rate of just 61.5 percent, which is below the national average of 63.8. However, both national and Hawaii rates could rise in the coming years as F annie Mae has created a new product to lift homeownership rates.

The HomeReady program has a lower mortgage insurance requirement. The mortgage insurance is cancelable when the loan reaches 80 percent loan-to-value, a factor that is unique to the product. The program also requires a three percent down payment.

The product is suited to Hawaii as it was created for multi-generational households. The income of extended-family members who contribute income to a house will be used to help qualify a loan, which was previously not the case. 


Hawaii hotels' strong performance in February boosted by Waikiki 

Reported by Lorin Eleni Gill, Pacific Business News, April 18, 2016 

Hawaii hotels saw unprecedented levels of revenue, average daily rates and revenue per available room this February, according to a Hospitality Advisors report.

Statewide, the hotel industry statewide garnered $471 million in total revenue during February, which is typically a strong month for the sector.

“The market is strong and continues to do well, but there’s a definite shift in terms of where people are coming from which also impacts the overall spend,” Kelly Sanders, area managing director for Starwood Hotels Honolulu, told PBN. “Our top spenders are from Japan, but their spending is down year over year and it’s filled by people coming from Australia and people coming from the U.S. West. They don’t stay as long and don’t spend as much, so it’s a balance we have to take into consideration but the good news is that Hawaii continues to be a very strong destination.”

Statewide occupancy was 83.6 percent during the month, slightly more than February 2015. Average daily room rates were higher in February compared to the same month last year, increasing 2.9 percent to $261.16.

Statewide revenue per available room, or RevPAR, rose 3.6 percent to a February all-time high of $218.33.

Meanwhile, Oahu occupancy remained flat compared to last year at about 86.8 percent,while Oahu room rates rose 3.5 percent to $223.20. Oahu RevPAR rose 4 percent to $193.74. Waikiki hotels were 88.1 percent occupied and saw record RevPAR of $196.83, approximately 5.7 percent more than February last year. 

“Waikiki has been on an upward trend in terms of total occupancy for the past five years — every year it’s just gotten a little stronger, which means that there are a lot of air seats coming into the market, a lot of interest in travel, and Waikiki continues to elevate the overall experience and quality of Hawaii as a destination,” Sanders said. “[Despite] the Zika virus, and the terrorism in Europe, people are still traveling and still want to vacation. Because we are considered a safe destination, I think it is easier for people to come here.”

Kauai hotel occupancy rose 1.3 percentage points to 82.3 percent, and average room rates rose 8.2 percent to $261.20. Kauai RevPAR reached $214.97, approximately 10 percent higher than the same month last year.

Big Island occupancy rose 2.8 percentage points to 78.2 percent and its hotels’ average rate fell 1.6 percent to $249.50. Big Island RevPAR rose 2 percent to $195.11, a record for the island. 

Maui room rates rose 2.3 percent reaching a record $360.93, while occupancy was steady, dropping just 0.3 percentage points to 80 percent. Maui RevPAR grew 1.9 percent to $288.74, a new record for February. 


Virginia firm scores new contract to help Hawaii conserve energy 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa,  Pacific Business News, April 15, 2016 

Hawaii regulators have chosen to go with Virginia’s Leidos Engineering to continue running the state’s ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program called Hawaii Energy, which serves Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, Lanai and Molokai, a spokeswoman for Leidos confirmed to PBN.

Leidos Engineering, a Fortune 500 science and technology solutions company, was recently selected by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and now has a new contract, although details of the contract are still being finalized. The firm’s previous contract with the PUC ends on June 30, but it re-applied to keep running the program, as it has been for several years.

Hawaii Energy offers cash rebates and other incentives to residents and businesses to help offset the cost of energy-efficient equipment, and has helped save residents and businesses nearly $1 billion over the last six years.

It also offers education and training for residents, business and clean energy allies to encourage the adoption of energy conservation behaviors and efficiency measures.

Last year alone, Hawaii Energy has helped save enough electricity to power 9,000 homes for a year, achieved nearly $1 million in energy savings per year for Honolulu International Airport, established 226 participating allies from 140 businesses and reached over 19,000 students through teacher education. 


Banana Republic among possible new shops opening at Waikiki's International Market Place 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, April 15, 2016 

Banana Republic, Hollister, ABC Stores and Honolulu Cookie Co. are some of the new tenants that may be opening at the newly-redeveloped International Market Place Waikiki, which is expected to reopen on Aug. 25, according to public records.

The center, which is being anchored by Hawaii’s first Saks Fifth Avenue department store, also seems to be adding popular Australian swimwear brand Seafolly, Flip Flop Shops, Fossil, Crazy Shirts, Sunglass Hut, Footlocker, Intermix, GNC and Robin’s Jean, according to permits pulled with the City and County Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting.

Other tenants that have signed leases or have pulled building permits at the center include The Walking Co., Clarks, MAC Cosmetics, Christian Louboutin Shoes & Handbags, Kona Coffee Purveyors, Laline, Lani Beach by Mireille, Oliver Peoples, Michael Kors, Jo Malone, Vera Bradley, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, Yogasmoga, L’Occitane En Provence, Anthropologie, Swarovski, Free People, Hanna Anderson, Trina Turk, BCBG Max Azria, Sugarfina, and Maui Divers Jewelry.

The open-air 360,000-square-foot, three-level shopping center will include about 75 stores, nine restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating on the third-level grand lanai.

The list of restaurants include Hawaii chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849, Las Vegas-based Flour & Barley, Goma Tei, Kona Grill, James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina’s Stripsteak restaurant and his The Street, A Michael Mina Food Hall, and Hakkasan Group’s Michelin-starred Yauatcha restaurant.

The redevelopment began on March 3, 2014, and has created 1,000 construction jobs. It is expected to create 2,500 permanent jobs. It will also add about 700 parking spaces to the area.

The project is being headed up by Michigan-based Taubman Centers, San Francisco-based CoastWood Capital Group LLC and Queen Emma Land Co. 


Reuters majority owner puts Honolulu's 'Pimple Building' on the market for sale 

Reported by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, April 12, 2016 

A well-known vacant office building in Downtown Honolulu, popularly known as the “Pimple Building,” is on the market for an undisclosed price, the broker marketing the sale of the vacant high-rise confirmed to PBN.