Will a district characterized by its piers and warehouses become the vibrant “live-work-play urban neighborhood” imagined by the Hawaiian Community Development Authority? The HCDA selected Forest City Hawaii to design, develop, and manage 690 Pohukaina; a Hawaiian contemporary, mixed-use complex meant be the hallmark of the new Kaka’ako. Forest City Hawaii is a subsidiary of the firm that developed New York by Gehry at Eight Spruce Street, a luxury residential skyscraper designed by architect Frank Gehry.
690 Pohukaina will include ground-level retail, commercial space (offices, perhaps), and 804 affordable, market-priced, and luxury rental units. Of the 804 rental units, 390 will be rented at an affordable rate. This means that these units will be affordable for those who make up to 120 percent of Kaka’ako’s median income of $82,700 a year for a family of four. A studio could rent for $1,736 per month, while a four bedroom apartment could rent for $2,878 per month. The retail, commercial space, and market-priced and luxury apartments are meant to underwrite those units rented at an affordable rate.
According to Forest City, 690 Pohukaina is meant to “be wholly populated by local people seeking a live, work, play environment.” Critics have focused on the height of the proposed structures, which will exceed Honolulu’s current 450ft restriction on buildings’ heights. Forest City submitted two financially viable designs:
- Two towers, which will be 560ft and 394ft, respectively;
- One tower, which will exceed 560ft.
Critics should instead ask if locals, who generally choose to live in multi-generational dwellings, if they would be willing to rent a four bedroom apartment for $2,878 per month. Would they not rather purchase a capacious home?
City-dwellers, can locals afford to rent or purchase properties near your city center? Should governments work to ensure that this is possible, or should they refrain from interfering in the market?
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