Swinerton In the News

Hawaii: February 14, 2019

State OKs funding for Michaels' senior affordable rentals in Chinatown

The Michaels Organization won approval Thursday from the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. for funding a 156-unit senior affordable rental project on city-owned land in Honolulu’s Chinatown that has been on the boards for four years.

The HHFDC board approved the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, $29.4 million over 10 years in low-income housing tax credits and $41.1 million from the state’s rental housing revolving fund to fund the $85.6 million Halewaiolu Senior Residences project on River Street in Chinatown.

The board voted after a lengthy discussion over the amount coming from the rental housing revolving fund, because at more than $263,000 per unit, it was more than the average amount the board typically approves for affordable housing projects.

But the board voted to give its unanimous approval to the rental housing funds, and to the issuance of tax-exempt revenue bonds for the project after it was noted that any delay in decision-making could effectively kill the project, which had been in the queue for funding approval for a year already. A batch of new applications for funding, which are due on Friday, could have pushed the Halewaiolu project further down the list of priorities.

The funding is possible because of the $200 million the Legislature put into the rental housing trust fund last year in an effort to boost construction of affordable housing. The HHFDC had a total of $149 million in available funds as of Jan. 31.

The City and County of Honolulu awarded Michaels the project in May 2015 after a competitive bid process. Michaels, which has been working through design and cost iterations since then, submitted is application for funding last year, but the project wasn’t placed on the agenda until this month.

The 17-story building, which will have 130 one-bedroom units and 26 two-bedroom units, was designed by WRNS Studio. The majority of the apartments will be for seniors age 55 and older making no more than 60 percent of the area median income. Eight units will be for low-income seniors making no more than 30 percent of AMI, while 16 units will be for those making no more than 80 percent AMI.

Swinerton Builders is the general contractor for the project. Michaels expects to break ground on the project in mid 2020, which completion in early 2022.

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