The following is a guest post by Holden K. Lau
Honolulu’s real estate landscape is experiencing a shift. Gone are the days when buyers were solely looking for hillside communities to build large estates with private pools. Luxury high-rises have taken the Honolulu skyline by storm and buyers are snatching up units left and right. In the last 10 years, Honolulu has seen a massive influx of new high-rise condominiums ranging from $1 million to massive $36 million penthouses in the sky. These buildings offer resort-like amenities year-round and provide the safety and security that buyers desire.
The concentration of development is in a neighborhood between Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki called Kakaako. The Howard Hughes Corporation is one of the developers driving this shift and the vision behind their 60-acre master-planned community, Ward Village, is walkability. Creating a community where residents can live, work, and play is the goal. While walking the coconut tree-lined streets of Ward Village, you are reminded that you’re living in paradise, with Jack Johnson’s latest hit playing through hidden speakers in the landscaping.
If we take a closer look at one of Howard Hughes’ early projects, Anaha, you’ll find one of the most complete offering of amenities around. It’s complete with a beach volleyball court, tennis court, jacuzzi, BBQ cabanas, putting green, golf simulator, fitness room, yoga room, kids playroom, and everything you need to keep your kids busy. Not to mention, a concierge that will help you with everything from taking groceries to your unit or booking you a reservation at the hottest restaurant in Kakaako.
Of course, Howard Hughes isn’t the only developer in town. The MacNaughton and The Kobyashi Group are both local developers that have been building in Hawaii for generations. Their latest project? Park Lana Ala Moana. Park Lane sits on the ocean side of Ala Moana Shopping Center overlooking Ala Moana Beach Park and the Pacific Ocean. Imagine world-class shopping and dining literally in your backyard combined with an unrivaled level of luxury in your residence. That’s Park Lane.
Park Lane offers a similar level of amenities to Anaha and other Ward Village condos with an elevated level of service. Planning a day at the beach? The staff at Park Lane will pick out a perfect spot ahead of time, put up an umbrella and chairs so that everything is ready to go when you arrive. Talk about a life of luxury!
Why the shift? In my opinion, it’s partly due to the availability and level of luxury these condominium projects offer. Ward Village is just four years old and Park Lane was recently completed in 2017. Prior to these two projects, there were limited options for luxury high-rise living in Honolulu. The infrastructure has a lot to do with it as well, and I’m not talking about the engineering side of things either. If you’re going to have a walkable community, you need to create a destination worth walking to.
Including Whole Foods Ward Village, the largest Whole Foods Market in the state with the largest prepared foods section I’ve ever seen in a grocery store. Whole Foods Market Ward Village has become a major hub and gathering place for the community, with two restaurants/bars inside the store featuring live music in the evenings. There are also a host of new restaurants, shops, and boutiques throughout the community that visitors and residents can frequent. The Howard Hughes Corporation also hosts free yoga in Victoria Ward Park, a brand new three-acre park they created in the middle of the community which helps bring residents together and new visitors to the neighborhood.
Howard Hughes, along with other local developers, are creating a city within a city with a true sense of place, and buyers are responding. Ko’ula is their most recent luxury condo project that launched at the end of 2018, and to date, they have sold well over 50 percent of the building which represents their strongest launch of any project in Ward Village master plan to date.
Are you looking for a change of scenery and have palm trees and white sand beaches on your mind? It’s time to experience urban living, island style.
Holden K. Lau is a Realtor-Associate, Global Luxury Specialist & Director of Kakaako.com. Holden specializes in the growing luxury condo market in Kakaako, Honolulu. Holden was the top selling agent in Ward Village in 2016. When he is not selling real estate you can find him out surfing in Waikiki, hiking or playing soccer. Holden was born and raised in Honolulu and graduated from the University of Hawaii.