Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Developer seeks to rezone YMCA property
Posted on February 24, 2013 by Kimo Smigielski
A taller, slimmer condo tower would offer “more elegance” if the change is approved at the Atkinson Drive site, the developer says
The Y recently applied to rezone its 1.8-acre property on Atkinson Drive across from Ala Moana Center, in a move to allow a 350-foot tower with high density on the site presently zoned for medium-density use up to 150 feet. The request comes almost a year after the Y announced a plan to sell most of its Atkinson property to a developer as a way to pay for replacing its 62-year-old facility in need of renewal. But the developer now aims to build more units than initially anticipated, and said additional density is necessary to achieve the redevelopment plan.
PlanPacific Inc., the consultant for project developer Aloha Kai Development LLC, said in the zoning application that building a new Y facility on the site can’t be done without additional density provided by the requested zoning change from A-2, the medium-density apartment district, to AMX-3, the high-density apartment mixed-use district. PlanPacific also said the additional height would result in a skinnier building that reduces negative impacts on views in the area.
Under the arrangement with the Y, the developer would pay about $6 million for 1.5 acres on which to build the condo. The Y would use the proceeds to finance a new facility on the roughly one-third of an acre it is retaining.
A new three-story Y estimated to cost $8 million or $9 million would be a contemporary, family-oriented facility featuring a swimming pool and a youth center offering after-school and summer child care, teen programs and services. About 115 rooms presently at the Y used for short- and long-term residences would not be replaced.
Last year the Y said its deal with the developer called for a condo with 120 units. The zoning application states the condo dubbed Aloha Kai would contain 156 units in a 39-story tower with a private park and 282 parking stalls. (The Y would continue to lease 115 parking spaces in Yacht Harbor Towers.)
Under city zoning rules, a zoning change would require that affordable housing be included in the project. But the developer is asking to deliver affordable housing elsewhere in urban Hono*lulu because putting such units in its proposed tower would put the project at “financial risk.” Initially the developer was identified as MB Property Acquisitions LLC, a San Francisco-based firm led by Michael J. Blumenthal which was a partner in the venture that developed the 212-unit Watermark Waikiki condo tower in 2008. Blumenthal has partnered with an affiliate of Tokyo-based housing developer Tama Home Co. Ltd. to do business as Aloha Kai Development for the Y project.
If a zoning change is granted, the developer pro*jects closing the Y in September and demolishing existing buildings by the end of the year. A new Y would be completed by mid-2014. No development timetable for the condo was provided in the zoning application.
The Aloha Kai/Central YMCA redevelopment project on Atkinson Drive is currently moving forward; it is hoped to break ground in late 2014. It is seeking a zone change from an A-2 designation to AMX-3 from the City and County of Honolulu. That will allow a residential condominium to be built to 350 feet, instead of the current 150-foot limit. The zone change is needed to allow the property to be developed to its best use. The taller building will allow more space between Aloha Kai and the adjacent buildings, and it will have less impact on views. The change in zoning also includes an affordable housing requirement that the current A-2 zoning does not call for.