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Downtown Office Building Gets New Life

29 Sep 2015, 1:16 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The renovation of the 50,626-square-foot, eight-story Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building in the city’s downtown core is currently under way. The $30 million project is scheduled for completion in about 18 months, according to the Pacific Business News.

Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building in Honolulu

Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building in Honolulu

On September 23, Hawaii Gov. David Ige told an audience at the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce luncheon that his administration prioritized the property’s refurbishment. Once renovated, the facility is expected to host state office space.

Built in 1957, the property is located at 250 S. King St., across from the Iolani Palace, and has been vacant since 2003, when the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs moved out due to safety issues.

The state, which purchased the facility from Hawaiian Trust Co. for $2.5 million in 1968, estimates it will save taxpayers money in the long run by putting the building back into operation. Earlier this year, Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill that allows the state government to enter into negotiations to acquire the nearby 25-story Alii Place office tower, which will also house state agencies.

At the moment, the state rents about 420,888 square feet of office space in downtown Honolulu and spends about $10.15 million in rent annually.

Image via the Historic Hawaii Foundation

Sustainable School Earns LEED Gold in Hawaii

23 Sep 2015, 11:38 am

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Hawaii Baptist Academy’s new Art and Science Building has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) this month.

Hawaii Baptist Academy

Hawaii Baptist Academy Art and Science Building in Honolulu

The project has been designed by Honolulu-based Group 70 International, which ranks as Hawaii’s largest locally owned design firm. The group is currently pioneering the state’s green school scene by designing the most sustainable educational facilities in Hawaii.

Besides water saving methods and materials selection, one of the key sustainable design features incorporated into HBA’s new building involves the use of a combination of direct digital controls, light sensors and occupancy sensors. This “smart system” regulates central air conditioning and lighting in each room and automatically adjusts the temperature and brightness based on the number of bodies present, saving approximately 34 percent of the energy used by a standard building.

“After having gone through the certification process nearly a decade ago with Group 70 when they designed our middle school campus, we were well aware of the complexities involved with attaining LEED Gold,” Ron Shiira, executive vice president of Hawaii Baptist Academy, said in prepared remarks. “It’s laborious but we remained steadfast, and our partners at Group 70 have again helped us realize our dream of creating a state-of-the-art building that allows us to be good stewards of the resources with which we have been so richly blessed. We are overjoyed to receive such recognition by the USGBC.”

“We commend Hawaii Baptist Academy for its dedication to helping pave the way for the next generation of schools that are healthy, energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” said Group 70 President & COO Charles Kaneshiro, AIA, LEED AP, principal in charge of HBA and nearly one dozen other LEED certified educational projects. He added that the use of the school building itself as a teaching tool can help students understand the value of sustainable design, an understanding they’ll carry with them into the community long after they’ve left the classroom.

With 34 LEED Accredited Professionals (APs), Group 70 employs the largest body of LEED professionals within one company in the state of Hawaii. Kaneshiro was among the first in the state to become a LEED AP and was nominated as the first green school advocate for the state of Hawaii in 2007.

Photo credits: David Franzen Photography

Coveted Japanese Cheesecake Coming to Hawaii

23 Sep 2015, 11:34 am

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Uncle Tetsu, a traditional Japanese cheesecake brand that sells handmade cheesecake baked in store using fresh ingredients, will soon land in Honolulu.

Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheeesecake

Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheeesecake

The new shop, which is set to open in Waikiki, will mark the company’s entry into the United States. According to the Pacific Business News, Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake recently secured a $90,000 building permit with the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting for a spot at the Royal Hawaiian Center.

Uncle Tetsu currently has more than 70 locations around the world, including in Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia.

Earlier this year, Uncle Tetsu expanded to North America with the opening of a location in Toronto, Canada. Founder and owner Tetsushi Mizokami attended the store’s opening, which was greeted with surprisingly long lineups, according to the Toronto Star. And since the tiny shop at 598 Bay St. can only produce batches of 12 six-inch cakes every 15 minutes, customers would sometimes wait outside for as long as two hours.

The freshly baked Japanese dessert is said to be lighter, fluffier and contain less sugar than regular cheesecake, and could become an interesting alternative to Waikiki’s ever-crowded Cheesecake Factory.

Photo credits: uncletetsu-ca.com

Landmark Hotel Near Hawaii Volcanoes Up for Sale

15 Sep 2015, 3:47 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The historic Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island is up for sale.

Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant on the Big Island

Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant on the Big Island

Brokerage firms Sofos Realty Corp. and MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty have been retained to market the property with an asking price of $5.2 million, the Pacific Business News reported.

The nearly 80-year-old, 16-key hotel, located on Old Volcano Road in the town of Volcano, could be expanded to include 24 vacation rental units and 10 cottages. The property offers visitors easy access to nearby volcano explorations, hiking, bird watching, wine tasting, golfing, and much more. The hotel is also situated only 45 minutes from the town of Hilo, famed for its tropical lushness, quaint storefronts and cascading waterfalls.

The Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant was originally built in 1938 for use by the YMCA. In 1986, German born Albert Jeyte, an Emmy winning make-up artist, and his wife Lorna bought the property on their honeymoon for $400,000. Over the years, the family managed to transform the former Volcano Lodge restaurant at 19-3948 Old Volcano Road into an award-winning country inn.

Last year, Lorna and Albert first put the hotel on the market with an asking price of $5.9 million.

“It’s time for us to go on and let someone else bring some new innovations into it,” Albert, 75, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Honolulu Office High-Rise to Become 230-Key Hotel

15 Sep 2015, 3:44 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Waikiki Trade Center, a 22-story, 248,000-square-foot mixed-use high-rise in Honolulu will soon be repositioned into a yet-to-be-named boutique hotel.

Waikiki Trade Center in Honolulu

Waikiki Trade Center in Honolulu

The building’s owner, San Francisco-based Coastwood Capital Group, partnered with San Francisco-based advisory and investment firm The Chartres Lodging Group LLC to complete the conversion.

Plans call for 230 spacious guestrooms, an eighth-floor pool and entertainment deck and a mix of street and mezzanine level retailers, the Pacific Business News reported. One of the retailers will be Nordstrom Rack, which plans to open its second Hawaii store at the center in the spring of 2016.

The cost of the entire project is estimated at approximately $61 million, with completion scheduled for the fall of 2016. Honolulu-based The Queen Emma Land Co. is the owner of the land where the building sits.

Kokua Hospitality, the management arm of Chartres Lodging, will provide renovation support, pre-opening tech services and property management services. Upon completion, the new hotel might operate under the Hyatt Centric brand, which caters to business travelers.

According to the newspaper, the redevelopment of the Waikiki Trade Center will bring needed hotel rooms to the market, which lost more than 5,000 rooms since 2000. At the moment, the high-rise is less than 20 percent leased and used primarily as an office building.

Photo credits: CBRE

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