Diamond Head Tower FAQ
No. The Diamond Head Tower will be situated on land owned by Kyo-ya and will be located entirely mauka of the existing seawall fronting the property. The Tower will be further mauka from the shoreline than many other hotels in Waikiki, including the Halekulani, the Outrigger Reef, and the historic Banyan Wing of the Moana Surfrider.
2) Is Kyo-ya planning to build a new seawall or hardened shoreline along Waikiki Beach?
No. The existing seawall was build prior to 1933. Kyo-ya plan to construct a retaining wall mauka of the existing seawall on Kyo-ya owned property to retain additional fill on the site. The additional fill is intended to raise the elevation of the site at the recommendation of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Sea Engineering to reduce the impact of potential flooding due to high wave action and/or rising sea level.
3) What will be the impact on ocean views?
The Diamond Head Tower will be situated in a mauka-makai orientation (as opposed to the existing building which is in a Diamond Head-‘Ewa orientation.” This will minimize any impact on ocean views and encourage an important connection between ocean and land. In addition, the Tower will restore pedestrian-level view corridors from Kalakaua Avenue to Waikiki Beach. This will be the only location along the built-up stretch of Kalakaua Avenue where a pedestrian can view Waikiki Beach across private property. While improving public views of Waikiki Beach and the ocean, the Tower will affect views from the upper levels of two hotels: Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel (also owned by Kyo-ya) and the ‘Ewa Tower of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki (owned by an affiliate of Goldman Sachs.) Nonetheless, guests at both of these properties in ocean-facing rooms will continue to enjoy beach and ocean views.
4) Will the Diamond Head Tower impact Punchbowl views?
No. The Diamond Head Tower will be obscured from view at the Punchbowl Lookout by taller, closer structures including the Hyatt Regency Waikiki and the ‘Ainahau Tower of the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel.
5) How will the project impact public beach access?
Public beach access will be improved. Kyo-ya will provide a 15-foot-wide public pedestrian beach access directly across the Diamond Head side of its property. This area is currently closed from public use and is blocked in its entirety by a building. This new public access will be one of only two public beach access points across private property along the built-up stretch of Kalakaua Avenue. In addition, Kyo-ya will provide $500,000 to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for use in its current project to expand the public beach from The Royal Hawaiian to Kuhio Beach. The expanded beach will be available to the general public and represents a significant improvement to the public beach. Kyo-ya will also provide 20 parking spaces to improve the accessibility of Waikiki Beach to the public.
6) Will the Zoning Variance set a precedent for other development along Waikiki Beach?
No. The Diamond Head Tower project is a unique situation. The considerations given by the planning director will not extend to any other Waikiki shoreline property. The Diamond Head Tower is located on the narrowest lot, which is shared with the historic Banyan Wing. Further, the State of Hawaii entered into an important agreement regarding this property and the adjacent section of Waikiki Beach. The 1965 Beach Agreement affects a limited section of Waikiki Beach and was considered by the planning director in determining what Kyo-ya’s responsible use of its land should be. The planning director partially approved development within the limits of Honolulu’s Land Use Ordinance and the City Council permits for this specific development lot.
7) Does Kyo-ya plan to demolish the Historic Banyan Wing of the Moana Surfrider?
No. Kyo-ya has spent over $150 million maintaining and rehabilitating the Banyan Wing since the 1980’s. Kyo-ya has committed to continuing its stewardship of this historic property into the future. Kyo-ya has likewise shown great care for other historically important structures and has recently completed an $80 million restoration of The Royal Hawaiian. Three of Kyo-ya’s seven properties are historic – Moana Surfrider, The Royal Hawaiian, and the Palace in San Francisco.