Feels Like Home

In a city with no shortage of high-end builds, a unique residential development aims to move the needle on Hawai‘i’s affordable housing landscape.

Text by Mia Noguchi
Images courtesy of Hale Kālele

Hawai‘i is known as paradise to many, but to those who live here, Hawai‘i is simply home. It’s a place to be with family and friends, a place to work, and a place to contribute to our community while creating a pathway for future generations. These are things Kobayashi Group had in mind when it built Hale Kālele Residences, its first affordable housing project conveniently located in a neighborhood near Ala Moana.

“Hale Kālele was meant to be a place that would invoke a feeling of comfort and safety while providing an atmosphere that would open a pathway forward for its residents,” said Alana Kobayashi Pakkala, chief operating officer for Kobayashi Group. “Nothing provides more sense of security than having a place to call home.”

The newly constructed Hale Kālele Residences have a modern feel, with clean, open spaces and features you might find in a luxury condominium. There are recreational spaces, a barbecue area, floor-to-ceiling windows, Energy Star appliances, controlled access, and more. They also incorporate technology that provides added safety, such as Aerapy ultraviolet germicidal equipment on the first floor (to destroy 99 percent of tested virus and bacterial pathogens) and UV-C light purification devices in the elevators.

The building was also designed to be conscious of the environment, utilizing a significant PV installation to make the project more sustainable and provide residents with renewable energy. Residents will have access to centralized solar hot water heating, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and two 100 percent electric EV car-sharing programs. Hale Kālele will also offer 100 percent electric micro-mobility options for rent to provide more transportation options for residents.

The project is also the first in the state to use CarbonCuret in vertical construction. CarbonCure uses clean technology to create concrete with less cement, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint without compromising strength.

Another unique aspect of the project is how it came to fruition. Thanks to an unprecedented cross-agency partnership between the Hawai‘i State Judiciary and Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), Kobayashi Group was able to develop needed affordable rentals on the same site as the new Juvenile Service Center, maximizing the use of state lands for the benefit of the community.

“This is just one fine example of how partnerships between government entities and the private sector can contribute to making Hawai‘i a place where locals can continue to live, work, and play. We are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it,” said Patrick Kobayashi, president and CEO of Kobayashi Group.

HHFDC Executive Director Denise Iseri-Matsubara said, “We’re proud of the work they’ve done to bring the project to life. This is the state’s first interagency development project on underutilized state land, and we hope that this can serve as a model for the future.”

While they sit on the same property, Hale Kālele and the Juvenile Service Center are distinct, featuring separate entrances and parking areas. The Center will serve status offenders (youth who violate laws that would not be crimes if they were over the age of 18, such as truancy, running away from home, and other low-end law violations) with the intent to help improve their lives via youth partnerships with social services agencies. Agencies will provide services to help them cope with issues such as anger management, substance abuse, and more.

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“We are pleased to be part of this partnership which serves two vital needs in the urban core,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “The first is to continue providing services and shelter for at-risk youth who need our support and guidance during a critical time in their lives. The second is the creation of much-needed affordable rental housing. This is truly a win-win for the community, and we are grateful to the Legislature for its support of this important project.” 

Hale Kālele will offer a total of 200 units: 36 studios, 54 one-bedroom units, and 110 two-bedroom units within the 20-story high-rise building. Families earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) were invited to participate in a lottery that began accepting applications on February 1, 2022. The monthly rent for a studio unit ranges from $542 to $1,177. A one-bedroom unit will range from $570 to $1,250 per month. Rent for a two-bedroom unit will be between $664 and $1,480 per month.

“While our company has been involved in many projects throughout the state, this project is near and dear to our hearts, and it is just the first of many more to come for us. Our next rental project, Kapolei Parkway, will bring 405 much-needed 30-60 percent AMI rentals as well as 180 preschool seats to benefit members in our community,” Pakkala said. “This is our home, and the Kobayashi family is committed to more projects that will give locals access to secure and stable housing, allowing them to achieve the dream of one day being able to buy their own home in Hawai‘i and not having to move to the mainland.”

BlackSand Capital, which is also operated by a member of the Kobayashi family, has also been partnering with other affordable housing developers focused on providing residents with affordable housing options and bringing more beneficial projects like Hale Kālele to fruition.

“Affordable housing has been a challenge for many years in Hawai‘i, and it’s going to take more collaboration to create the balance we need so people will have options and opportunity,” said BJ Kobayashi, CEO and founder of BlackSand Capital. “It’s a balance we are working toward every day.”