The Neighbor Force

A new tower in urban Honolulu serves working families and troubled youth


Hale Kālele Residences—the new 20-story tower bound by Piikoi, Alder and Elm streets and a Texaco service station on King—meets the needs of most moderate- to lower-income residents in urban Honolulu.

Amenities include: An adjacent parking garage with 213 stalls. Bike storage. Proximity to The Bus, H-1 on-ramps and the future Ala Moana Rail Transit Station. Laundry and recreation rooms. And 200 affordable rental units for families earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income.  

What’s unique about the $90 million project is the addition of Hale Hilinaʻi Juvenile Service Center on the first and second floors, serving low-end law violators younger than age 17. The juvenile center has a medical lab, interview rooms, temporary sleeping quarters and a counseling center. Its Alder Street entrance is separate from the residential apartment’s Piikoi Street main lobby.

The duo project was the first affordable development for Kobayashi Group and MacNaughton Holdings and the first inter-agency partnership between the Hawaii State Judiciary and the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. Since 1949, the Judiciary had occupied the 1.45-acre, prime property.

The partnership provides “much-needed affordable housing in the redevelopment of the underutilized property,” says Alana Kobayashi Pakkala, chief operating officer and partner of Kobayashi Group. “Hale Kālele and Hale Hilina‘i serve two needs vital for Hawaii to thrive.”

That desire to help local families inspired the construction and design teams to build as efficiently and safely as possible during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Giving local people a place to call home is a significant, life-changing event,” says Ryde Azama, project engineer for general contractor Albert C. Kobayashi Inc., which held a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2020. “Completing the project ahead of schedule had been a top concern for the team as the housing crisis has plagued Hawaii for years.” May 2022 is the targeted finish date. 

 Azama says “tools to make the job a success” were daily sanitation, sequencing, temperature screening and contract tracing programs. Virtual meetings between owners and sub-contractors were the norm.   

Sustainability was another goal for the building. The units have Energy Star appliances, photovoltaic panels and batteries that provide 60 percent of energy needs, electric vehicle car sharing and charging stations, and electric bike and scooters available for residents. (See page 16, “Carbon Infusion and Tunnel Forms.”) 

What sets Hale Kālele apart from other affordable dwellings, too, are the large, floor-to-ceiling glass windows typical of higher-end properties. Residents—after a hard day’s work—can soak in views of Honolulu’s skyline. “The increased natural light exposure improves the well-being and happiness of the occupants,” says Steve Teves, principal of Design Partners Inc., architect for the project.

Ryde Azama
Steve Teves