Construction’s Underway For Kapolei’s $632/Month Apartments

The second tower of the $130 million Kulana Hale project is now under construction. The tower is starting to rise on Wakea St. in central Kapolei, next to the project’s other 13-story tower.

Among those at the August 28 groundbreaking: Governor Ige, Senator Mike Gabbard, and Councilmember Kymberly Pine.

This 13-story tower will have 143 affordable apartments for low-income families. How affordable?

Proposed Rents for Kulana Hale Affordable Housing

Studio apartments: $632/month

1-bedroom apartments: $677/month

2-bedroom apartments: $800/month

3-bedroom apartments: $940/month

All apartments will be reserved for families making 60% or less of the area’s median income. Locals who can’t afford their own places now will be able to when these towers go up. And they’ll be close to all the shops, restaurants, and services in central Kapolei, too.

Pride And Passion Among Affordable Housing Supporters

You wouldn’t expect it at a groundbreaking, but passion was a major theme of the event.

State Senator Mike Gabbard talked about encountering a passionate senior citizen who called the existing mid-rise tower a “monstrosity” — until learning that it was senior housing. Then the guy’s tune changed. He asked: “Will they have studios?”

Councilmember Kymberly Pine talked about her passion for finding homeless families safe, clean places to live.

Michael Costa and Mohannad H. Mohanna, of Highridge Costa, the mainland-based developers spearheading the project, both spoke about their dedication to building affordable housing. Both noted that the satisfaction they get from seeing how passionately low-income families feel about their new homes on move-in day.

“Creating a blueprint for better lives,” Mohanna called it. “You are affecting over 60 years, 9,000 plus lives.”

Governor Ige provided the big picture. “Our vision is to create a sustainable community and an opportunity for our children to call Hawaiʻi home,” he said. Ige’s administration set a goal of 10,000 affordable housing units by 2020. The 143 units in Phase 2, along with the 154 units in the first tower, add 297 units toward that goal.

The Highridge Costa folks sounded like they’d be willing to help with the push. Building Kulana Hale was “one of the best experiences we’ve ever had,” Michael Costa said. “One of the best states, cities, local governments we’ve ever dealt with.”

How We All Helped Build These Towers

The details of how these multi-million dollar projects get done aren’t exciting, but they are important. Bob Spangler, a Managing Director and Co-Head of the Municipal Finance Department at RBC Capital Markets, is the tax credit investor for the project. Along with financiers at Citibank, Spangler helped deliver $23 million in funding to kickstart construction, backed by state tax credits.

Basically, we taxpayers gave up $23 million in taxes that we could have spent on something else. Through a complicated series of transactions, it was made available for developers to begin building.

The buildings will be kept as affordable housing for at least 30 years. One of the thousands of people who ends up living in this building during that time could be a relative, a friend, or a descendent of yours who’s not yet been born.

Other local partners include Honolulu-based Coastal Rim Properties, owned by Franco Mola, the Hawaiian Community Development Board, SVA Architects, and Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co.

How Tower 2 And Tower 1 Will Connect

Kulana Hale’s Phase 1 tower, dedicated to senior housing, should be ready for occupancy next April. Phase 2 will be built over a two-level concrete podium structure that will connect to Tower 1, and create a larger parking structure and podium deck.

Phase 3 of the project will be the single-story retail space.

To sum up:

April 2020: 154 units of senior housing

Spring 2021: 143 units of affordable housing

TBD: First floor retail space on Wakea St. and adjacent streets

If you’re interested in applying for an apartment in the towers, there’s a place to leave your email on the Kulana Hale website. For updates on this and other new projects around Kapolei, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.