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New owner of Davies Pacific Center plans to turn offices into condos for sale

Post-pandemic downtown Honolulu is turning the corner with the next frontier of redevelopment. The Avalon Group recently purchased Davies Pacific Center, a 1970s-era building that many powerhouse law firms and businesses call home.

The developer is in the process of turning 17 floors into residential condos for sale. Pacific Business News reports the mostly one-bedroom units will cost between $550,000 and $650,000.

To accommodate commercial tenants that do not want to leave the Bishop Street location, the first five floors will remain as office condos.

"There's what we call the podium, five stories that are wrapping around the parking garage with treeline views and it's really nice with direct access to each level of parking. So we thought that that would just remain as commercial space over time. But there's the tower, which we thought we could segment off and make that into residential to feed the need of having workforce housing in downtown," Avalon President and CEO Christine Camp told The Conversation.

Current plans call for 442 apartment units, 26 per floor, Camp said. She anticipates at least 10 floors with 260 units will be built in the first phase. Other floors slated for residential still have commercial tenants, which will delay construction.

"However, we're in the same permit cycle as anyone else. It doesn't matter whether you're delivering 400 affordable units, or doing luxury housing, you still have to follow through on your permit process," she said. Avalon does not expect its permits for another 18 months.

In the meantime, Camp said the City and County of Honolulu should consider changing building requirements to match the evolving nature of acceptable living conditions, such as air conditioning and ventilation in lieu of having windows that open.

"If we're clamoring for housing and housing to be built now, shouldn't we look at ways to change our code to reflect our current environment?... Do we really need park dedication in downtown core? Or should we make it so that the downtown units are far less expensive and less expensive to maintain overall?" Camp said.

"If we want to redevelop the existing projects and attract capital to develop more housing, we need to be mindful of the things that stopped the housing from getting built," she added.

A few blocks over, developer Douglas Emmett is almost done converting another Bishop Street building into residential. Click here to read the story.

This interview aired on The Conversation on March 22, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Sophia McCullough is a digital news producer. Contact her at news@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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