Affordable housing coming to Downtown Honolulu

Local News

The newest high-rise development in Downtown Honolulu could be in a very old — long-neglected building.

Unlike many recent projects that have grabbed headlines — this one would create affordable housing in the Queen Emma Building. 

Often called “the Pimple Building” because of its nubby exterior — the Queen Emma Building has been vacant for more than 10 years.

It was partially demolished for previous attempts at re-development that left much of it exposed to the elements.

Now, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. has finished the final environmental assessment. That report, as well as its finding of ‘no significant environmental impact’ — has been forwarded on, as part of a 720-page document.

It’s another step on the way toward creation of 71 affordable studio, as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments in the former office building.

A rendering shows that the building’s unique texture will be kept as is — except for the first floor — to keep people from literally climbing the walls.

The tower will add to other recently announced affordable housing projects — like Ohana Hale at 929 Pumehana Street in McCully. Dust-fencing is up — and ground-breaking is scheduled for this year. Some 180 affordable units are planned there.

Affordable housing is about affordability — but it’s also about convenience.

Jennifer Lien is moving from Kaimuki-Kapahulu — into Hale Kewalo at 450 Piikoi Street, which just opened in May.

“It’s so much traffic in the morning, so, it’s so convenient for me from here to go to work Downtown, Alakea and so that’s why i like this area.”

But there’s another reason she’s excited about living here. It’s right across from Ala Moana Center.

“It’s so close to the mall, I, shopping, I can go shopping any time I like.”

Hale Kewalo developer Stanford Carr says the building should be 100-percent occupied by now — but as we’ve seen, more affordable apartments for purchase and for rental — are on the way.
 

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