This article is a popular article also posted in our last Nan Inc newsletter (Summer of 2020).
Whether its building rail stations, a school, or a massive new sewer facility, Nan Inc and its dedicated workers have never been afraid to blaze new trails. And thanks in large part to our owner Patrick Nan Shin, our company is carving out a new niche as we make our first foray into the high-stakes world of high-rise construction. Located in the heart of Honolulu on over 3.5 acres of land, The Park on Keeaumoku will be an iconic and catalytic mixed-use project with condominium residences, affordable for-sale condominium residences, ancillary common area uses, and commercial development. The Park on Keeaumoku will consist of two towers providing more than 970 moderatelypriced condominium homes. The project also includes 70,000 square feet of space for restaurants and other retailers, a multi-story parking garage, and an open park space for public use. “It truly is a live, work, play kind of development in the urban core of Honolulu, and there hasn’t been anything quite like it,” said Wyeth Matsubara, Vice President of Marketing.
The project, located diagonally across from the Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club shopping and restaurant complex, has been in the works for a few years now. It started when Shin seized on the opportunity to become co-owner of the land. The City and County of Honolulu had flagged it as being ripe for re-development as the project is within the planned Honolulu Rail-Ala Moana Center Transit Station and within the designated Transit Oriented Development (“TOD”) zone, which caught Shin’s eye. Shin also knew it could serve as a springboard and a résumé builder for Nan, Inc. as our company enters the world of high-rise construction. “Building this Keeaumoku project will actually be less complex than others we’ve already done. However, owners and developers like to see what you’ve done before. Finishing this will be proof positive that we’re a major player in Hawaii’s highrise building scene,” said Shin.
Building in the high-rise market
It’s one thing to say we’re entering the high-rise market, but it’s entirely another to get it built. And Nan, Inc. has already made major headway towards making that happen. Since early 2017, Matsubara and his dedicated team have been working tirelessly to draft a master plan for this project. Together, they had to consider everything from big picture items like: How many towers should be built? How to best use the space? Down to things we might take for granted like: Should the doors open from the left or the right? And should these doors open into a hallway or a wide open-space?
To help answer those questions and to ready the project for regulatory approval, Nan, Inc. reached out to other industry experts. “We retained various consultants to address the numerous project requirements: architects, planners, traff c, structural, civil, archaeological to assist with the development of the permit application,” said Matsubara. That permit application took countless hours and six to seven months to produce. It’s a massive document thicker than any dictionary or textbook you’ve likely ever seen. But it’s a must-have if you want to get the necessary approvals. From the second half of 2019 through the early part of 2020, the project was moving quite smoothly through the vetting process. Public interaction and meetings with key stakeholders allowed the project to be further focused and f ne-tuned. The aforementioned permit application had been recommended for approval by the city and had the initial blessing of the Honolulu City Council Zoning, Planning, and Housing committee.
All that was needed was one final full city council vote. That vote was supposed to happen in January but didn’t, and again in February, but didn’t. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving the project’s approval seemingly further in limbo. For its March meeting, it appeared the city council might only tackle items related to the COVID-19 crisis, but council members saw f t to squeeze our housing project onto their busy agenda. At the meeting, the council gave its blessing and the project cleared this major hurdle. “I am very satisf ed that the council recognized the benef ts this project will bring, providing much-needed housing and jobs to our local people,” said Shin. And Matsubara added: “I was very happy that we were able to get approval, but I know that this is just one important step in a long journey and that I had to quickly buckle down, focus, and keep moving as there’s a lot more work to do.” So as the project moves on towards the sales and construction phase, it’s important to look at what’s different about this project. Over the last 10 years, Honolulu has seen a huge increase in high-rise construction, primarily in Kakaako. Most f t into one of two categories: luxury high-rise, or low-income mid-rise. The luxury towers lured many foreign investors, but most locals were priced out.
And on the other end, most local families earned too much to qualify for the other category. The big difference of Featured Projects The Park on Keeaumoku Sky-High Plans in the Heart of Honolulu By Justin Barf eld N what Nan, Inc. is constructing – The Park on Keeaumoku is geared for the middle class. “Affordability to us is the driver in this” said Matsubara. And Shin added, “This will be a very good investment for the local people.” The project’s location just a few blocks away from Ala Moana Center is both an opportunity and a challenge. Since it’s located just a few blocks away from a future rail station and within the designated TOD zone, the project was granted height and density increases that allow a project like this to become feasible on this site. With an increase in density also comes a challenge. “There’s a huge housing supply shortage and there’s a massive demand for housing, so we know we’re creating a product to f ll that void,” said Matsubara. But this opportunity for local people also represents the big challenge, which is selling such a large number of units.
Going forward the project team plans to focus on keeping the price point down to attract homebuyers. “We focused with the mantra that we’re going to provide the best product available for the price and to provide an amazing product for potential buyers,” said Matsubara. Once completed, The Park on Keeaumoku will transform the currently under-developed parcels in the area, while also blending in at the same time. “We want to continue having something there that is near and dear to the community, but we also strive to better the community with more housing, 37,150 square feet of public open space including a park, and new retail options by providing a vibrant mixed-use community along Keeaumoku Street,” said Matsubara. So here’s to blazing new trails, as Nan, Inc. is literally on the “rise”.