Jack Tyrrell specializes in Kakaako, Honolulu, Hawaii luxury condo projects.

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Whale-watching Season in Hawaii

Photo: Jack Tyrrell and Company, February 22, 2019

Photo: Jack Tyrrell and Company, February 22, 2019

The warm and shallow waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands are a favorite destination for kohola, or humpback whales. Scientists estimate that two-thirds of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population return to Hawaii to breed, calve and nurse their young. They race more than 3,000 miles from the Gulf of Alaska to Hawaii.

The whale watching season is usually under way by mid-December and lasts until April or May, with the ideal months for watching typically being February and March. While whale watching is ideal on Maui, Molokai, and Lanai islands, humpback whales can be seen on Oahu from the shoreline of Waikiki, Makapuu Lighthouse, and along the seaside overlooks near Diamond Head.

Recently, my social media manager was able to encounter a mother whale and her calf off of the shores of Diamond Head during sunset, as shown in the photo above and in this video here. The crew was sailing, when they were startled by the sound of a whale spouting water. To their happy surprise, the mother whale and her calf were peacefully swimming about 100 feet from their boat. The captain observed their behavior to ensure no signs of distress or defensiveness. When no such behavior was observed, it was determined safe for the crew to remain where it was. The whales continued on their way, spouting water about two more times before swimming farther away. The observation was a fleeting, but beautiful and memorable moment. Witnessing these majestic creatures takes a lot of patience and respect, as well.

If you can't spot them from the shore, boat tours would be your best shot at getting closer to them. Luckily, there are many boat operators on Oahu that host whale watching tours. A few choices are listed below:

Whale-watching is truly an unforgettable experience that we highly recommend anyone in Hawaii do during the season!

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Two thirds of Aalii at Ward Village is sold, says Howard Hughes Corporation

Photo: Howard Hughes Corporation

Photo: Howard Hughes Corporation

The Honolulu Star Advertiser has reported that Howard Hughes' next project, Aalii, is approximately two thirds sold. The project features 751 units over 41 floors, and will be the first of its kind to offer studio units designed for "smarter living". Howard Hughes is aiming to start construction by the end of 2018, according to the report.

Read more from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, below:

The next condominium tower expected to rise out of the ground at Ward Village in Kakaako is two-thirds sold. Howard Hughes Corp., developer of Ward Village, disclosed in a financial report released Monday that buyers have signed sales contracts for 500 of the 751 units in its planned ‘A‘ali‘i tower since selling began in January.

The company previously had not publicly disclosed sales for the tower, which represents a new product at Ward Village. Many units at ‘A‘ali‘i feature small living spaces, with studios as small as 277 square feet priced around $500,000.

By comparison, the first three Ward Village towers — Waiea, Anaha and Ae‘o — featured bigger living spaces and average prices ranging from about $1 million to $3.6 million. A fourth tower, Ke Kilohana, is more moderately priced because of a state requirement to produce affordable housing. Of the four towers, Waiea and Anaha are finished, and the other two are in upper stages of construction. All four are nearly sold out.

David Weinreb, CEO of Texas-based Hughes Corp., called the pace of sales at ‘A‘ali‘i “incredible” in a statement. “These results validate the strong demand for innovative residential product in Honolulu,” he said.

Hughes Corp. has described ‘A‘ali‘i as being efficiently designed for “smarter living” — meaning making better use of a smaller home. Features in the planned tower include floor-to-ceiling cabinetry extending up to 9 feet, and a wall bed that pulls down to cover a small couch. Refrigerators in studio kitchens are just 24 inches wide. To make moving in easier, Hughes Corp. offers to sell furnishings and household goods as a package — about 60 items from cookware to linens — for “turn key” living.

The developer wants to start construction on ‘A‘ali‘i this year, and hopes to get an approval later this week to build another, similar tower.

A state agency regulating development in Kakaako, the Hawaii Community Development Authority, is considering a development permit for a 570-unit tower called Ko‘ula that Hughes Corp. previously said would be similar to ‘A‘ali‘i.

During the three months endedJune 30, Hughes Corp. reported taking in $20.1 million in revenue from condos sold and delivered to buyers at Ward Village. That revenue reflected about five units at Waiea and Anaha. A year earlier the company claimed $148 million in revenue from Ward Village condo sales, but that was under a different accounting method that allowed Hughes Corp. to claim revenue on pending sales in towers still under construction. That accounting practice was prohibited at the end of last year.

Total revenue in the second quarter was $181 million, down from $309 million a year earlier, for Hughes Corp., which has a variety of real estate endeavors in about 15 states that include operating retail centers, redeveloping a waterfront in New York City and selling land in master-planned communities.

Hughes Corp. earnings in the second quarter swung to a $5.9 million loss from a $3.1 million profit a year earlier largely because of the accounting practice change, the company said.

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Merriman’s in Honolulu set for Saturday opening

The long-anticipated Merriman's on the ground floor of Anaha will be ready for business this Saturday, June 23! Merriman's marks Ward Village's latest fine dining offering, joining the popular Nobu Honolulu on the ground floor of Waiea. Merriman's features Hawaii and French bistro-style food. The new location focuses on farm-to-table ingredients and features new dishes not found on the Maui, Kauai, or Big Island locations, including Tako & Country Bread, served escargot-style covered in garlic butter; Kualoa Ranch “Smokin’ Oysters,” infused with smoke under a dome to be released with hazy aplomb at the table; and roasted cauliflower served with walnuts, romaine and aged sherry. This will be the first restaurant owned by Chef Peter Merriman on Oahu (his more casual Monkeypod Kitchen is a joint venture). 

Watch the Honolulu Star Advertiser's sneak peak video above, and read their first impression, below:

Chef Peter Merriman’s Honolulu restaurant opens Saturday in the Anaha complex in Ward Villages.

Preview sessions at Merriman’s began Monday, introducing the menu to Anaha residents, employees of other restaurants in the Merriman’s family, vendors, suppliers and the media.

Merriman said the restaurant will reflect the farm-to-table roots of all his restaurants, but with a recognition of its location in modern Kakaako. “One of our themes is farm to high-rise,” he said.

Specialties developed for the Merriman’s Ward location include Tako & Country Bread, served escargot-style covered in garlic butter; Kualoa Ranch “Smokin’ Oysters,” infused with smoke under a dome to be released with hazy aplomb at the table; and roasted cauliflower served with walnuts, romaine and aged sherry.

Classic Merriman’s dishes from either the original Waimea restaurant on the Big Island or in Kapalua, Maui, include steamed clams in garlic butter and a lobster pot pie, both made with seafood from Keahole.

Merriman, one of the original Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs, has seven restaurants on four islands. This new restaurant will be his eighth and the first in Honolulu directly owned by him (his more casual Monkeypod Kitchen and Moku Kitchen are partnerships with Handcrafted Restaurants).

The executive chef at Ward is Jon Matsubara, who has opened three previous high-end Honolulu restaurants — Stage at the Honolulu Design Center, Azure at the Royal Hawaiian and Forty Carrots at Bloomingdale’s.

Reservations for opening night and beyond are being taking at merrimanshawaii.com. Hours at the Ward location will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; with happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.

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Industry News: Oahu condo sales, prices post gains in February, Locations report says

Photo: property of Jack Tyrrell and Company

Photo: property of Jack Tyrrell and Company

The condominium market remains busy, as sales on Oahu rose 50 percent in February 2018 as compared to February 2017. 395 units were sold last month, compared to 377 units sold in February last year. The median price of a condo rose 5 percent to $411,000 in February 2018, from $390,000 during the same month last year.

Read more from Pacific Business News, below: 

Sales of condominiums on Oahu rose 5 percent in February, as prices rose by the same percentage point, while single-family home sales recorded a slight decline in sales and a slight increase in prices, according to a report from Hawaii real estate firm Locations.

The median price of a single-family home on Oahu last month was $770,000, a 1 percent increase from $760,000 in February 2017, based on Locations’ summary of Multiple Listing Service data. Sales of single-family homes in February dipped 1 percent to 225 homes sold, from 230 homes sold last year.

Sales of condominiums, however increased by 5 percent to 395 units last month, from 377 units sold in February last year. The median price of a condo rose 5 percent to $411,000 in February, from $390,000 during the same month last year.

“February was another solid month for Oahu’s housing market,” Scott Higashi, president and CEO of Locations, said in a statement. “Rising mortgage rates have not yet reached the point of impacting affordability; however, we do expect rates to move up this year.”

Single-family homes spent the same amount of time on the market in February, 23 days, as last year, but condos sold faster — days on market were 18 compared to 24 days in February last year.

“The increase in condo sales, coupled with low days on market, indicates that climbing interest rates have not yet lessened demand; rather, they may have heightened urgency among future homeowners,” Higashi said. “Those in the market for a new home would be wise to get prequalified and be ready to act when the right home comes on the market.”

The Honolulu Board of Realtors will release its February market report next week.

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Industry News: Oahu condo price hits all-time high in January, Locations report says

Photo: view of Waiea from Ala Moana Beach Park. Property of Jack Tyrrell & Company, Inc.

Photo: view of Waiea from Ala Moana Beach Park. Property of Jack Tyrrell & Company, Inc.

2018 is starting off with a bang, with median price for a condo on Oahu already hitting an all-time high this past January. January's median price of $439,000 beats the previous record set in July 2017, which was $425,000. Pacific Business News reports on data from Locations Hawaii, below:

The median price of a condominium on Oahu reached an all-time high of $439,000 in January, beating the previous record set in July, while the median price of a single-family home rose by 7 percent, according to monthly sales statistics from Honolulu real estate firm Locations.

Sales of single-family homes on Oahu reached a 12-year high for January of 258 houses sold, from 255 sold in January 2017. The median price of a single-family home rose to $779,000, from $730,000, the Locations report said.

The number of condos sold on Oahu last month declined by 4 percent to 382 units sold, from 399 units sold during the same month last year. The median price of $439,000 was a 12 percent increase from $393,000 in January 2018, and eclipsed the record of $425,000 set in July.

“The market is off to a healthy start in 2018,” Scott Higashi, President and CEO of Locations, said in a statement. “January single-family home sales were the highest we’ve seen in 13 years, and condo median prices reached an all-time high of $439,000.”

Homes sold more than 30 percent faster in January as well, with the number of days on market dropping to 21 for single-family homes and 20 for condos.

New listings for condos grew 13 percent last month to 763 units for sale, from 675 in January 2017, although new listings for single-family homes declined by 6 percent to 450, from 479 last year.

“With an increase in both new and active condo listings, we can expect to see more sales and increased prices throughout the spring,” Higashi said.  “Additionally, interest rates — while still historically low — are ticking up toward a three-year high.”

Locations compiles its figures by filtering data from the Multiple Listing Service daily. The Honolulu Board of Realtors will release its report this week, based on MLS statistics taken on the last day of the month of everything sold during that month.

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Honolulu listed in National Geographic's Best Cities in the U.S. List

PHOTOGRAPH BY INTERSECTION PHOTOS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

PHOTOGRAPH BY INTERSECTION PHOTOS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Honolulu has been named by the esteemed National Geographic as one of the Best Cities in the U.S. According to the publication,

"The Aloha State’s largest city also goes big when it comes to music venues, Instagrammable moments, and art galleries and art stores. An experience that encapsulates all of Honolulu’s chart-topping attributes? The artfully photogenic Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club recently launched a Sunday brunch that grooves with music sets curated by Oahu-based record label Aloha Got Soul."

National Geographic compiled their list using the following process:

For this story, we partnered with Resonance Consultancy, a global destination branding advisor, to identify the top U.S. small cities based on unconventional metrics that we think lead to happiness: green spaces, galleries, coffee shops, breweries, music venues, Instagrammable moments, and more.

Next we sorted U.S. cities into three groups based on their population: 40K-100K, 100K-200K, and 200K-600K.

Resonance combined core statistics with social media data (from YelpInstagram, and other sources) on nightlife, culture, restaurants, and the like to determine the city leaders for each population group in categories from meatiest (lots of steakhouses and delis) to greenest (most parkland), based on per capita results.

We also highly recommend taking a look at their article, "Finding Paradise on Oahu," which features some of the most beautiful island locations for you to check out on your next vacation or your next "holo holo" day!

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Industry News: Oahu home sales rise 6% in 2017 as prices gain 3%

Lobby of Park Lane Ala Moana, completed in 2017. Photo is property of Jack Tyrrell and Company, Inc.

Lobby of Park Lane Ala Moana, completed in 2017. Photo is property of Jack Tyrrell and Company, Inc.

As we wrap up the end of 2017, we reflect on a big year in real estate. Read more from The Pacific Business News, below: 

Home sales on Oahu increased by more than 6 percent in 2017, while prices gained 3 percent, pushing the median price of a single-family home to $755,000 and a condominium over $405,000, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

There were a total of 3,908 homes sold on Oahu last year, which was 6.3 percent more than in 2016. The median price of $755,000 was 2.7 percent higher than in 2016, when it was $735,000, the board said.

The median price of a condominium was 3.8 percent higher than in 2016, when it was $390,000, while the 5,824 sales represented a 6.9 percent increase from the 5,449 sales in 2016.

For December, however, sales fell 12.2 percent to 461 sales, compared to 525 sales in December 2016. The median price of a condo in December was $405,000, an increase of 3.8 percent from $390,000 in December 2016.

“The 12 percent decrease in condominium sales last month is a bit misleading, since the market experienced a nearly 24 percent spike in December 2016; overall condo sales were still very robust in December 2017,” Sue Ann Lee, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, said in a statement.

Single-family home sales increased 5.9 percent in December to 361 sales, from 341 sales in the same month the previous year, while the median price increased 2.7 percent to $750,000, from $730,000 in December 2016.

“In terms of inventory, it’s encouraging to see more condominium and townhome units being actively listed,” Lee said. “While Oahu’s residential real estate market experienced record median prices in 2017 for both single-family homes and condos, demand continues for housing at all price points.”

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Howard Hughes sets date for Ward Warehouse buildings to come down

Photo: The Howard Hughes Corporation

Photo: The Howard Hughes Corporation

Ward Warehouse officially closed its doors on August 1, 2017 after four decades of business, and now Howard Hughes has announced that demolition work has officially begun! This is only the first step in what will be an exciting development for the Ward Village area. Gateway Towers is planned for the parcel, and sales have already begun. According the Master Plan, Gateway Park will run between the two towers, and a park will also be located across the street on the mauka side of the development.

Read the full report from Pacific Business News, below:

The Howard Hughes Corp. has started demolition work at the shuttered Ward Warehouse shopping complex in Honolulu and plans to tear the buildings down by the end of the year, but has yet to schedule construction of the Gateway Towers project that will replace it.

Re-use Hawaii is collecting salvagable materials to recycle and “remediation work” is being done to the 42-year-old complex, a spokeswoman for The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC) said in an email to Pacific Business News. The Honolulu Police Department and Honolulu Fire Department will also be using the site for first-responder training, she said.

If all goes as planned, the Ward Warehouse buildings will come down in November or December, she said. Layton Construction Co. is the general contractor overseeing the job.

Pre-sales for Gateway Towers, which is being designed by architect Richard Meier & Partners, began two years ago but the spokeswoman told PBN there is no “set date for the start of construction.” According to the Ward Village website, the units there will have one-, two- and three-plus bedrooms and be priced from $1.5 million to more than $20 million. The website also notes the “estimated move-in date” for the project is the fourth quarter of 2019.

Richard Meier & Partners designed the Gateway Towers mixed-use luxury condominium project, seen in this rendering, that will replace Ward Warehouse. The Howard Hughes Corp. began pre-sales on the units two years ago but has not set a start date for construction.

Richard Meier & Partners designed the Gateway Towers mixed-use luxury condominium project, seen in this rendering, that will replace Ward Warehouse. The Howard Hughes Corp. began pre-sales on the units two years ago but has not set a start date for construction.

Meanwhile, The Howard Hughes Corp. is also demolishing the low-rise warehouse buildings across the street to make way for its Aalii mixed-use project. That work will begin around the end of the year, too, and sales for the studio, one- and two-bedroom units there will begin by the end of the year.

The developer this week marked the completion of its second mixed-use tower in Ward Village, Anaha. Its two other Ward Village projects under construction, the Whole Foods Market-anchored Aeo and the Longs Drugs-anchored Ke Kilohana, will be completed in 2018 and 2019.

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Industry News: Condo prices climb higher than forecasters predicted

Photo Property of Jack Tyrrell and Company: Anaha, October 2017

Photo Property of Jack Tyrrell and Company: Anaha, October 2017

As we have been preparing for Anaha's opening, news on the condominium market on Oahu continues to look strong. With the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) predicting a 6.7 increase in the median price of a condo on Oahu in 2018, now is the time to buy.  Read more trends reported by Pacific Business News, below:

The median price of a condominium on Oahu tied for an all-time record last month, and is on pace to finish the year higher than forecasted by University of Hawaii economists, while single-family homes are on pace to see flat or slightly lower price appreciation than the year before.

Already, the year-to-date median price for a condo — $407,000 for the first nine months of the year according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors — is higher than the price for all of 2017 predicted by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) in its recent construction forecast, which was $405,600.

The year-to-date median price is 5.4 percent higher than it was at the same point a year ago, which was $386,000. The median price of a condo for all of 2016 was $390,000, which was an increase of 8.3 percent from all of 2015.

For single-family homes on Oahu, the median price from January through the end of September was $757,000, an increase of 3.4 percent from $732,000 at the same point last year, according the Honolulu Board of Realtors data.

For all of 2016, the median price of a single-family home was $735,000, and that was a 5 percent increase from 2015.

The rate of appreciation in Hawaii is actually slower than the national and regional figures.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Housing Price Index report for July, the most recent data available, home prices in the U.S. — the report does not distinguish between single-family and condo — rose 6.3 percent from July 2016 to July of this year, although for the Pacific region, which includes Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, the median price increase over the one-year period was 8.2 percent.

Despite the slowed price appreciation, homes are still selling at a brisk pace. Sales of single-family homes during the first nine months of the year totaled 2,860, a 5 percent increase from 2,723 sales during the same period in 2016, and more than the number of homes sold in all of 2008 and 2009, during the Great Recession, as well as in all of 2011. The number of days those homes are on the market has gone down by one day over the past year to an average of 16 days.

Condos are selling even faster than they were a year ago. The average number of days on market for the first three quarters of 2017 was also 16 days, but that was three fewer days than at the same point last year, when it was 19 days.

Sales of condos totaled 4,373 units through the end of September, which was 5.8 percent more than the 4,133 that sold during the first nine months of 2016. The number of condos sold so far this year is also more than during each year from 2008 through 2012.

“Really, it’s affordability,” said Sue Ann Lee, a Realtor with Forward Realty and president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors. “When you think about there being so little inventory on the single-family side, what do you have left?”

But while condos may be affordable now for some buyers priced out of single-family homes, prices for those condos are forecast to rise at perhaps a faster clip over the next few years.

According to the UHERO forecast, the median condo price is expected to increase by 6.7 percent to $432,700 in 2018, 5.3 percent to $455,500 in 2019, and 3.5 percent to $471,500 in 2020.

For single-family homes, the forecast for the median price is $757,200 at the end of this year followed by an increase of 4.5 percent to $791,200 in 2018 and an increase of 3.8 percent to $829,900 in 2019.

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Industry News: Oahu condos back up to record prices, single-family home sales take off

Photo Property of Jack Tyrrell and Company

Photo Property of Jack Tyrrell and Company

Read more about September's hot condo market, as reported by Pacific Business News, below:

Home sales on Oahu soared in September on slight price gains, compared to the same month last year, while the median price of a condominium jumped 11 percent to tie with the record set over the summer, according to statistics released Friday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

There were 374 single-family home sales on Oahu last month, which was 13.7 percent more than the 329 sales in September 2016. The median price of those homes sold rose to $760,000, which was 1.3 percent higher than the median price a year ago, which was $750,000.

The median price of a condominium, however, rose 10.9 percent to $425,000, tying with the all-time record price set in July, from $383,250 in September 2016. Sales of condos rose 2.7 percent in September to 526 units sold, from 512 units sold during the same month last year.

The number of days on market for single-family homes dropped by 12.5 percent to 14 days, while condos were on market an average of 19 days, compared to 20 days a year ago, a decrease of 5 percent.

“Despite sales prices hitting the record-high twice in one year, condos and townhouses are still proving to be a popular alternative for homebuyers as evidenced by the 11.6 percent increase in pending sales," Sue Ann Lee, president of Honolulu Board of Realtors, said in a statement. “The continued need for affordable housing and lack of sufficient inventory to meet this growing demand can be demonstrated by the decrease in new listings and 5 percent decrease in days on market.”

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