Skyline Ala Moana: FAA Can Limit Building Heights

Nov 14, 2018

Skyline Ala Moana proposed concept plan
Credit Avalon Group, LLC

The Honolulu City Council today approved a conceptual plan for the tallest high-rise project in the urban core.

Christine Camp, president and CEO, Avalon Group, LLC
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

The Skyline Ala Moana will have two 400 foot tall towers on the Mauka side of Kapi’olani Boulevard.  The project will extend to Makaloa Street bordering Walmart and Sam’s Club.  Avalon Group LLC president and CEO, Christine Camp.

“We’re going to be the first project to have a 30-year buy-back provision for for sale housing.  We’ll be investing a little over half-a-billion dollars for this project over the next 3-5 years to build the Skyline Ala Moana project which will have 84 affordable housing and 390 market housing but market housing priced for the people who live here.” 

Kimberly Pine, chair, Zoning and Housing Committee
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Skyline Ala Moana will also include a 300-unit full service hotel.  The project exceeds the current building height limit by 50 feet and will be double the density.  City Council Zoning and Housing Committee chair, Kimberly Pine, says the variances were granted to provide affordable purchase units for families earning between 70-thousand and 116-thousand dollars annually at no additional cost to taxpayers.

“The economic impacts from this project that will benefit the taxpayer is huge: 810 full-time jobs.  That’s $62 million in revenue for the city and state.  They can buy food, they can keep other people working because they are going to their stores and, most importantly, those workers will be able to afford their own housing.” 

Project supporters filled the Council Chamber
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Supporters of the project --- wearing fluorescent construction green and orange shirts -- filled both sides of the Council Chambers.  Councilmember Ron Menor expressed reservations.

“Many of our constituents have been expressing concerns that the high-rise development projects that they’re seeing, mainly accommodate the wealthy high-end market and has not been adequately addressing the affordable housing needs of our residents.      However, I recognize that this project will result in the creation of construction jobs and so, I will be voting in favor but with reservations.” 

Leo Asuncion, co-chair, Hawai'i Interagency Council for Transit Oriented Development
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

The full City Council unanimously approved the project but the 400-foot building height cannot be approved by the City.  That job belongs to the State Department of Transportation Airports Division which must determine building height limits for airport operations and safety.  Leo Asuncion co-chairs the Hawai’i Interagency Council for Transit Oriented Development.

“The FAA, they have this analysis called, ‘One engine out.’ So, if a plane takes off and one engine goes out, can it clear an obstruction.  They could do the analysis and you might not be happy with it in a TOD area. Right?  It might not be 350 feet max.  It might be 250 max.  So we’re trying to look at when those reviews have to be done.”

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.