Symphony Honolulu to keep glass windows, pay $1+ million

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Symphony Honolulu will keep its windows.

That’s the ruling from the Hawaii Community Development Authority after months of discussion and several delays.

The issue, according to the HCDA, is that the glass at 888 Kapiolani Boulevard doesn’t meet visible light transmission standards.

§ 15-217-55 (k) (2) Window glazing shall be transparent with clear or limited UV tint so as to provide views out of and into the building. Visible light transmission level of windows on the ground floor shall be seventy per cent or greater and on all other floors the visible light transmission level shall be fifty per cent or greater;

Developer OliverMcMillan Pacific Rim LLC (OMPR ) requested that the rule be suspended pending administrative review, research and analysis, or waived for the project.

It argued that the rule makes it impossible for the building to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) minimum standards. “Glass with a high VLT (i.e., a VLT of 40% or greater) is undeniably less energy efficient, resulting in higher electrical cooling needs for apartment units and higher electric bills for consumers,” the company’s attorneys wrote.

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, HCDA waived the rule for the project, and ordered OMPR to pay a $2,000 fee “for failing to correct the violation.”

OMPR also agreed to increase its public facilities dedication fee by an additional $1 million. The fee, which was previously set at $2,612,250, replaces the project’s public facility dedications for open space and parks as required by HCDA. It is calculated based on total commercial floor area and total residential floor area, minus reserved housing.

The company will also pay $24,000 to cover HCDA’s costs for third-party consulting services.

At previous public hearings, nearby residents complained about the glare from the windows. However, OMPR stressed reflectiveness was not related to VLT.

Symphony Honolulu is not the only project dealing with this so-called “Glass Rule.”

The project 801 South Street, Building A is also requesting the rule be waived or permanently suspended.

Public hearings are scheduled for Oct. 7 and 8 with decision-making expected on Dec. 2.

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