Future Views

The wall of condos.

The wall of condos.

When we bought our condo over 30 years ago, the unit had a great view of the ocean even though it is located far from shore. Back then the only building between us and the ocean view were the Ala Moana Building and its “La Ronde” revolving restaurant, the 1350 Ala Moana condo and one or two others.

Over the years the construction of office and residential towers has filled in the vista and our view is what you see in the photo that accompanies this story.

We are a bit wistful and nostalgic for the former view planes but we knew that as Honolulu grew we would lose our ocean view. I think most condo dwellers, except those in the trophy properties, accept that our views will diminish as we become more crowded and shift to a higher density living model.

What really gets condo dwellers hot under the collar is when government agencies appear uninterested in even trying to protect the views enjoyed by existing residents in their rush to grant permissions, variances and zoning exemptions that facilitate new condos to be re-oriented, made taller or positioned in a way that exacerbates their impact of the views of others.

The current prime target is the Hawaii Community Development Authority. The HCDA whose name alone will cause some to spit on the ground and make the forked hand symbol over their eyes and sometimes the “We’re Number 1” symbol, too.

To date, I have not had much interaction with these folks although that may change a bit once I start the Neighborhood Board work. I’m interested to get more first-hand experience with how this agency actually interacts with the residents of my neighborhood.

The massive redevelopment of the 600 or so acres that comprise Kakaako is perhaps the biggest deal to hit Honolulu urban planning since….well, ever, maybe. The redevelopment of Kakaako presents enormous opportunity and in my personal opinion, the window of opportunity is pretty tight.

As the cost of money rises (and that seems inevitable) the viability of some of the condo projects will be challenged. We saw that in past boom/bust cycles and history will likely repeat. That raises the specter of a half-ass development if you will pardon my French with all the downsides that would entail in terms of incomplete infrastructure development and a failure to achieve the goals of developing a real community, not just a grove of really tall buildings.

Anyway, I look forward to learning more and will report faithfully.

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