Sunday, June 23, 2013


Shucks, I missed the condo sale yesterday

Mei Tam, a property specialist with developer PacRep LLC, selected a condominium unit on behalf of a client during a sales event Saturday for the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach. Tam was the second to reserve one of the luxury condominiums. Jason Grosfeld, principal for developer PacRep, in the maile lei, watched as a select group of buyers staked their claims.

by Larry Geller

Luxe lifeThe biggest local news in this morning’s paper is that luxury buyers were treated like, well, the luxury buyers that they are, at a posh condo sale on Saturday. The condo? The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach. Of course. Ritz-Carlton. The name is appropriate.

A select group of about 75 pre-screened potential buyers crowded the project's sales office and showroom on the aptly named Luxury Row stretch of Kalakaua Avenue on Saturday for the official release of a "reserve collection" of full oceanview units. The event was broadcast live to satellite venues in Tokyo and Shanghai — "an industry first," according to Grosfeld, and streamed via the project's official website.

[Star-Advertiser p. B1, Condo buyers indulge in luxe life, 6/23/2013]

Those buyers aren’t wearing aloha shirts, folks. Nor are the buyers in Tokyo and Shanghai.

A giant video screen tracked the sales, with unit numbers disappearing from a illuminated floor plan as customers staked their claims.

Some of the buyers will be investors. Maybe they’ve already sold today what they just purchased Saturday.

The article indicates that residents of the “Ritz” will have not a pool, but “pools.” They can shop not at Foodland but at an on-site Dean & DeLuca, or if turning on the microwave is too much hassle, dine at the downstairs sushi restaurant.

So what’s the “disappeared news?”

The disappeared news, folks, is that these condos are not for us.

So when you see lavish coverage in the same paper of developers asking for 800, 900 or 1,000 foot height exemption requests, keep in mind that it’s for developer profit, not for Hawaii resident housing. The paper loves to run large photo-like renditions of what Honolulu will be turned into if the developments are approved.

Hong Kong is full of condos like this. Honolulu is not Hong Kong.

… or is it? Hobron Lane in Waikiki reported the highest number of people in the 2010 census: 87,816 persons per square mile (as reported in the Star-Advertiser.  The population density of Hong Kong is about 67,000 persons per square mile.

Moreover, we taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the infrastructure to support the BMWs and water demands that the luxury developments will bring.

The sale didn’t stream on `Olelo, it streamed via satellite to Tokyo and Shanghai.


The buyers of these ultra-luxury units will be part timers in Hawaii. They fly in to enjoy the best we have to offer but have no obligation to improve the community and could care less about the real life issues facing the residents, the real full time residents of Waikiki, Oahu and the State. In turn we are told to shut up and be happy to get a $11/hour job at Dean & Dekuca cutting the pate and stocking the $150 bottles of Chardonnay. We are told that somehow our home is better of some short term construction jobs. We are fed the line that just having the latest internet whizz kid or the Chinese garment factory mogul or the stock manipulator from wherever living here part time makes Hawaii a more prominent visitor destination and more appealing. We fall down and worship at larry Ellison's feet because of a new super-hotel and a plan to provide its visitors with private jet services and sparkling marinas for their yachts.

Yeah, I'm getting bitter. The sell out of Hawaii to 1% interests makes me howl every time I drive down King Street and the see the homeless encampments. Each time I see the degradation of public services and the....oh never mind.....just a Sunday rant against what can not be changed.

I agree with the previous comment on selling out to 1%. On the homeless, well, I'm not totally sure about making that connection, only because not all homeless are from Hawaii - they come here from other states because we have great weather and benefits. But yeah, the main issue is that Hawaii is becoming for the rich people only and the local people are just slave servants....remember "Fantasy Island?"
Do these luxury condos impact our property taxes ?
And conversely, if these condos increase the value of property in one area, then will it decrease the value in other areas therefore lowering the property tax ?
And finally, these rich people will eventually want to retire here since we have no state tax on pension.
Did you hear HCDA on the last Insights on PBS ? He tried to say that there are condo units being built for the middle income people....but these are rentals only and the few "affordable" (whatever that means) that are being set aside is far too few the number of people in this category. So you build 1 unit for the 500,000 + people who make $40K per year and you build 1000 units for the "work force" people who make $150,000+ per year. Thank you HCDA and developers for taking care of the regular folks.
Sunday rant for now, but I think more of us are looking at this and wondering the same. How do we organize ?


Two great comments.

And yes, how shall we organize? It ought to be possible.

I guess in order to organize we'll need to establish a clear goal first. There are probably a lot of organizations who want to help the "little" people be able to live in their own home and are not subject to rent increases or having to do favors for the landlords to keep their rentals. So, to me, that would be the first step. What is our goal ?

Side Note: Did you see the Honolulu Magazine photos of the Ritz Carlton Waikiki Sale - I guess there were a lot of camera shy local people.

Thank you Larry


Didn't see those photos--thanks.

I'm not aware of any organization (though you'd think there would be some...) pushing for rent control, rent stabilization, etc., that would help people stay in their homes.

Just because I don't know about them doesn't mean they don't exist, so time for some research.



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