- Developer Castle & Cooke broke ground Thursday on the 576-acre, 3,500-unit $2 billion residential mixed-use Koa Ridge project in Oahu, HI, according to KITV Island News. The project is expected to take 10 years to complete, but the first homes will be available in 2019.
- The project's residential component will offer up single-family, multifamily and senior housing options, with approximately 1,000 of the total units affordable. Koa Ridge will also include, Hawaii News Now reported, $500 million of utility and other infrastructure upgrades, an elementary school, hospital and 500,000 square feet of commercial space, including retail, in an effort to promote walkability.
- The project has faced legal challenges and other hurdles for approximately 20 years, with critics arguing it will only increase traffic congestion and reduce the amount of Oahu's limited farmland. Castle & Cooke said the constant delays to Koa Ridge and other residential developments in Hawaii have only served to increase housing costs.
An annual report from MoneyRates.com this summer ranked Hawaii as the worst place in the U.S. to make a living because of its high taxes and the cost of living. According to the personal finance website, Hawaii ranks No. 10 in median wage, but the cost of living is two-thirds higher than in any other state. In a look at Locations LLC data, Pacific Business News reported that the median price of a single-family home on Oahu in October 2017 rose 2% year over year to $760,000. The median price of a condominium rose 1% in the same time period to $402,000.
As on Oahu, traffic congestion is also a concern in the Honolulu area. In response, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) embarked on an ambitious $9 billion commuter rail project, which has come close to reaching boondoggle status.
After accusations of mismanagement and the exit of some project officials, the rail is facing down a $3 billion gap. HART had to submit a plan to the Federal Transit Administration in September explaining how it will address schedule delays as well as the funding shortfall. Hawaii lawmakers authorized a $2.4 billion bailout, and HART said it will make up the rest with other state and local taxes and subsidies.
On top of those issues, the rail plan is counting on ridership growth, even though HART's mass transit ridership has dropped 10% in the past year. This forced the agency to include in its plan to the FTA how 5%, 10% and 15% losses in ridership would affect operations.