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Honolulu buys $37.75M dorm to convert to affordable housing

 Waikiki Vista
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Waikiki Vista

The city has acquired the Waikiki Vista in Mōʻiliʻili for $37.75 million. The deal will add more than 100 new affordable rental units to the city’s inventory.

The 19-floor building is currently being used to house Hawaiʻi Pacific University students, who will be able to stay in the building through the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a statement that it has 108 housing units as currently built. He added that the purchase is the largest and most significant affordable housing acquisition ever made by the city.

“Our fundamental commitment to being able to provide Oʻahu residents with affordable housing opportunities remains as strong as ever, and we will work with stakeholders in identifying the specific population the affordable rentals would be geared toward, such as senior housing, work force housing, or first-time renters,” Blangiardi said in a statement.

“I commend the Administration on this addition of much-needed affordable rental housing to the City’s portfolio,” Honolulu City Council Vice Chair Esther Kia‘āina said in a statement. “The size and layout of the property also provides unique opportunities and I look forward to working with my colleagues to maximize the potential of this space to serve the community.”

The existing building plan includes nine housing floors, each with 12 housing units, plus six floors with classroom, auditorium, administrative, dining and office spaces.

Four floors are dedicated for parking, with 35 parking stalls on each floor.

The city’s Department of Community Services plans on contracting rehabilitation and renovation work with an affordable housing developer. They would then rent and manage the building to people making 60% or below the area median income.

In 2022, an individual making $54,900 or a couple earning $62,700 would qualify.

More details are expected to be released early next year.

The building at 2241 Kapiʻolani Blvd. is the former home of Hawaii Tokai International College. It was sold to investors in 2017.

The purchase was made using money from the Coronavirus State and Local Recovery Funds program — which was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Jason Ubay is the managing editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Send your story ideas to him at jubay@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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