Oct 20, 2017 5:03 pm Pacific/Honolulu

Diamond Head Tower Fact Check

CLAIM: The structure would alter the view planes.

FACT:  The DHT will dramatically improve views mauka from the beach and street-level views from Kalakaua Avenue and Princess Kaiulani Avenue makai to the ocean. Additionally, Kyo-ya has included in its plans increased public open space and a 15’ wide easement across the entire property to enable public beach access.

CLAIM: The new Diamond Head Tower will cast shadows on the Diamond Head side of the beach in the afternoon.

FACT:  This is simply not true.  There is no building in Waikiki that creates shade on the beach in the afternoon at any time during the year.  In addition, the only time that there would be shading on the beach from the DHT is in a very limited period during the summer (approximately 60 days) and there would never be any substantial incremental shadowing after 10:00 a.m.  

CLAIM: The structure will add to the loss of the shoreline.

FACT:  False, the DHT will be constructed entirely mauka of the existing sea wall.  There will be no change in the creation or loss of beach from what has existed since at least the 1930’s when the sea wall was first constructed.

Additionally, the sand replenishment project will substantially expand the beach between Kuhio Beach and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and will provide additional usable beach space.

CLAIM: If Kyo-ya receives its variance, it will set precedence and all the other hotels will follow suit.

FACT:  History does not support this contention.  Commencing in 1979, the Halekulani (developed together with the Waikiki Parc) obtained much more extensive variances to the applicable setbacks and Waikiki Special District requirements.  Since then, there has not been a single shoreline hotel constructed.  Thus, the issuance of variances historically has not led to a rush of development applications.  

Further, there is simply no parcel like the DHT parcel and the basis submitted for the variances simply do not apply to any other shoreline parcel.  

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the Special District laws, particularly as amended in 1996, are designed expressly to permit variances from nearly every rule so that the City Council and the Planning Director can achieve good planning decisions while landowners are encouraged to continue to reinvest and revitalize Waikiki as a world class visitor destination.  These are specific mandates of the Special District law itself.

QUESTION: Why can’t Kyo-ya do what the Halekulani did in its redevelopment of its hotel?

FACT:  The DHT project is much more consistent with the Waikiki Special District objectives, guidelines, and rules than the Halekulani. The Halekulani Hotel development required and received numerous and more substantial variances that Kyo-ya has not even requested – including county and state variances to build within the 40’ setback, county and state variances and permits to build an entirely new sea wall in a location that did not have an existing sea wall, and county variances and permits to build within the side and front yard setbacks -- to name just a few.

Kyo-ya has spent nearly five years working with architects, planners, and members of the community to ensure the DHT project fits into the character of Waikiki and does not negatively affect the environment, view planes or public beach access.

The Halekulani blocks all views mauka from the beach in front of the hotel and makai from Kalia Road as its buildings extend essentially from the Diamond Head edge of the property to the ‘Ewa edge. The hotel provides no public beach access across its property.

CLAIM: The redevelopment includes high priced luxury condominiums that only outside wealthy can afford.

FACT:  The hotel industry provides both very high levels of stable employment (from labor through management and executive positions) and a large source of unique tax revenues that no other industry contributes.  Yet, hotels are less profitable than any other form of resort commercial investment, whether it is commercial or residential.  

No new hotels have been constructed in Waikiki without a residential component since the early 1980’s. Kyo-ya is no different and the DHT represents a means to create revitalized hotel operations in the heart of Waikiki by combining hotel with residential units.