A penthouse planned for a Kakaako condo promises to be large, luxurious — and pricey

By Andrew Gomes

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 22, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 02:06 a.m. HST, Jan 22, 2014

The "grand penthouse," top, in a condominium tower proposed for Ward Village in Kakaako called Waiea is designed with 21,182 square feet of living space, its own pool and an estimated $19,521 monthly maintenance fee.

The "grand penthouse," top, in a condominium tower proposed for Ward Village in Kakaako called Waiea is designed with 21,182 square feet of living space, its own pool and an estimated $19,521 monthly maintenance fee.

The owner of Ward Centers is preparing to open a public sales gallery soon for the first two of 22 planned condominium towers envisioned to transform 60 acres of Kaka­ako into a largely residential community called Ward Village. But one big, eye-popping detail will be missing among all the marketing materials.

That would be the asking price for the "grand penthouse" in the more luxurious of the two initial towers where the cheapest unit starts at about $1.5 million.

As it is sketched out, the grand penthouse will span the top two floors of the 36-story tower named Waiea to be built makai of the movie theaters at Ward Centers on the corner of Kama­kee Street and Ala Moana Boulevard overlooking Ala Moana Beach Park.

The living area is programmed for seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms and two half-bathrooms — 21,182 square feet in all if you include the 3,661-square-foot lanai fronting an infinity-edge pool.

Just the maintenance fee for the unit's owner to help pay for general tower operating expenses is estimated at $19,521 per month, or about $234,000 a year, according to a disclosure report filed with the state Real Estate Commission.

"That's going to be the penthouse of all penthouses in Hawaii," said Jaymes Song, an agent with Prudential Advantage Realty who got an overview of Waiea at an event for brokers last month.

Local real estate agents believe Waiea's grand penthouse would be the biggest and priciest in Hawaii.

By comparison, the biggest penthouse in the One Ala Moana luxury condo under construction atop the Nordstrom parking garage at Ala Moana Center is about 4,100 square feet and is under contract with buyer for $10 million — a record price for a residential high-rise unit in Hawaii.

Many industry observers expect Waiea's grand penthouse will break the record. But by how much? That's more uncertain.

Trevor Benn, president of local brokerage firm Benn Pacific Group, said he has no doubt a record will be shattered if Waiea's grand penthouse is sold. "Ten million is probably the cost to build it," he said.

Some local real estate agents who attended the recent brokers event hosted by Waiea's broker, Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, have talked about the asking price for the unit being $50 million.

Howard Hughes Corp., the developer of Waiea and Ward Village, contends that $50 million isn't the asking price. The company said the source of the figure was a broker in Japan who published incorrect information about the unit online that got repeated at the event for local brokers.

"It was just a mistake," said David Striph, senior vice president in Hono­lulu for Texas-based Hughes Corp.

So what's the true list price? Striph would not say. He said the price is to be discreetly shared with potential buyers in a more exclusive marketing effort. "It's not going to be a broad-marketed unit," he said.

If the grand penthouse were priced in straight relation to its maintenance fee, which is about 15 times greater than Waiea's smallest unit, it would cost $22.5 million.

Whatever the price is, if it doesn't go over well with prospective buyers, then Hughes Corp. has an option to restructure the space into multiple smaller penthouse units perhaps similar to the 10 other penthouses slated for Waiea ranging from 2,320 to 7,418 square feet for which Striph declined to share prices.

Striph said he believes Waiea, which is touted by Coldwell Banker Pacific as a "new luxury paradigm" for the city, will attract a grand penthouse buyer that shows Hono­lulu can contend with other cities where developers have appealed to wealthy buyers with what some call super-luxury condos.

The super-luxury condo trend includes a tower called The Mansions at Acqualina being built in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., near Miami where the developer is asking $55 million for a 16,000-square-foot penthouse dubbed Palazzo d'Oro with 360-degree ocean views.

In Hong Kong a buyer paid about $55 million in 2012 for a new 6,755-square-foot unit in the Opus Hong Kong building designed by famed architect Frank Gehry on a bluff overlooking downtown towers and Victoria Harbour.

New York City is at another level, with developers asking and receiving close to $100 million for expansive units with towering views. At a 90-story Manhattan tower named One57, two penthouses between 11,000 square feet and 14,000 square feet are reportedly under contract for about $90 million each, while a rival tower called 432 Park has sold its top penthouse for $95 million.

"There's a trend in big cities all over the world to do these larger units," Striph said.