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Friday, January 5, 2024
Kobayashi Profits as City buys up expensive real estate in Iwilei
By News Release @ 8:17 PM :: 3364 Views :: Honolulu County, Development

Map and image of Iwilei warehouse building purchased by the city and county of Honolulu

City takes bold stride towards affordable living and urban renaissance

News Release from City and County of Honolulu, Jan 5, 2024  (With accuracy-inducing material in parenthesis.)

HONOLULU – In a groundbreaking move which will reshape the City’s future, Mayor Rick Blangiardi proudly announced on Friday the successful acquisition of prime properties in Iwilei by the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Land Management. These 'strategic' acquisitions will pave the way for vibrant affordable housing, complete streets, and new connectivity to the Kūwili Skyline station, catalyzing the development of a new transit-oriented development (TOD) community in the heart of Honolulu (be demolished and then sit vacant for decades to come.)

In a momentous transaction, the City closed the deal on the Iwilei Center, located on a sprawling 3.8-acre parcel at 866 Iwilei Road, 850 Iwilei Road and 505 Ka‘a‘ahi Street, representing a $51.5 million dollar investment in affordable housing and TOD.

(Really Obvious Questions: Who is the seller?  Whose campaign did they contribute to?  Answer from HNN: "In 2019, the 3.8-acre Iwilei Center was purchased for $36 million by BlackSand Capital, part of the politically-connected Kobayashi group of companies. Four years later, the city is paying $51.5 million. That’s a $15.5 million or 43% profit.")

Situated adjacent to the future Kūwili Skyline station in Iwilei, this property was identified as the “Activity Node” in the Downtown Neighborhood TOD Plan, adopted by the Honolulu City Council in September 2017 and revised in July 2020, which was created after almost a decade of extensive community engagement and input (campaign contributions.)  Acquisition of this Iwilei Activity Node will stimulate and guide development over the next era of Iwilei’s growth and enhancement, and marks a key milestone in the City’s commitment to accessible housing and efficient transit.

But that is not all. The City also made a visionary investment in the former First Hawaiian Bank building at 445 N. King Street, sealing the deal on December 29th at $8.4 million dollars.

(Really Obvious Question: Whose campaigns did First Hawaiian contribute to?  Answer: All of them.)

This property was identified in the Downtown Neighborhood TOD Plan as the site of critical infrastructure, and acquisition will support upcoming affordable housing and TOD initiatives in Iwilei, ushering in the City’s TOD future with determination and foresight.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi, a staunch advocate for affordable housing, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “Residents across O‘ahu have made clear that the availability of affordable housing is among their most important priorities, and we are excited about the opportunities these two key strategic properties present for future development, especially within walking distance of our rail system.”

Councilmember Radiant Cordero, Chair of the Honolulu City Council’s Budget Committee, added, “The acquisition of these properties is a tremendous accomplishment because not only will it increase opportunities for the development of affordable housing for our residents, but the Iwilei Center parcel will improve connectivity between communities by linking Iwilei with Kalihi, Pālama, and Liliha.”

Acknowledging the impact on existing tenants, the Mayor assured that the City remains sensitive to the needs of the community. The former First Hawaiian Bank property, currently vacant, holds promise for innovative affordable housing development with improved transit connectivity, while the City will honor the current leases for the tenants at the Iwilei Center. The City is committed to ensuring minimal disruption to business operations and is providing relocation assistance to qualified tenants.

(Then the buildings will be demolished and the lots will sit vacant for decades to come.)

Mayor Blangiardi concluded, “We will continue to be aggressive with regard to our plans for affordable housing development. As rail construction progresses further into the heart of Honolulu’s urban core, we must take advantage of opportunities like this to transform our housing landscape and provide vital spaces to live for future generations on O‘ahu.”

This visionary initiative marks a significant leap towards (a) more inclusive and dynamic housing future for Honolulu, where affordable housing and urban renewal stand at the forefront of progress (homeless tent city in Iwilei).


SA: City buys Iwilei properties for affordable housing on Oahu  (No mention of Kobayashi in Star-Adv.  What a surprise!)

2021: OHA Sinks $47M into Iwilei Real Estate Deal  

SA: Editorial: City must make most of rail TOD | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)


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