Ward Village vision in Kakaako going on display

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED: 01:52 p.m. HST, Jan 24, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 04:36 p.m. HST, Jan 24, 2014

Howard Hughes Corp., the developer of an envisioned 60-acre community in Kakaako called Ward Village with 22 condominium towers and retail, is showcasing that vision with a new sales and information center in the historic IBM Building.

The info center is slated to open by Friday, and includes an interactive scale model of Honolulu between Diamond Head and Sand Island, a small theater and historical exhibits created in conjunction with Bishop Museum that tell about the Ward property's past back to pre-Western contact. A restaurant is also being built next to the info center, though an operator has yet to be selected.

Sales of condo units in the project's first two towers began last month by appointment. Model units are built out on the IBM Building's sixth floor.

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New center offers preview of future
Nick Vanderboom, senior vice president of development for the Howard Hughes Corp., which is redeveloping the Ward Centers complex, on Friday showed off a model of the high-rise community planned to be built at the 60-acre site over the next two decades.  The developer plans to open an information center next week in the historic IBM Building to give the public an overview of its long-range plan.  

The historic IBM Building on Ala Moana Boulevard in Kakaako is about enter a new stage of life largely as an information and sales center for 22 condominium towers envisioned for development around Ward Centers over the next couple of decades.

Howard Hughes Corp., owner of the 60-acre Ward property and developer of the future high-rise and retail community dubbed Ward Village, plans to open an information center next week to give the public an up-close overview of its long-range plan.

Four floors of the building are still used for offices, including the second floor occupied by Hughes Corp. A condo sales gallery fills the sixth floor, and a rooftop lanai was created to show off ocean views.

Hughes Corp. will use the info center, slated to open by Friday, to interest the public in buying units in its planned condo towers -- the first two of which are already underway with sales.

Because of the long development horizon for Ward Village, Hughes Corp. built an info center the likes of which has not been seen before in Hawaii. Elements include an interactive scale model of Honolulu between Diamond Head and Sand Island, a small theater and historical exhibits created in conjunction with Bishop Museum that tell about the Ward property's past back to pre-Western contact. A restaurant is also being built next to the info center, though an operator has yet to be selected.

The scale model of Honolulu features hundreds of tiny acrylic representations of buildings on top of a roughly 4-by-10-foot table of monitors displaying a satellite photo of the land. A touch-screen control panel allows users to call up information about certain buildings, restaurants, landmarks, parks and even surf breaks, the location of which is then pinpointed on the model.

About 150 to 200 points of interest were programmed in the model, created by a company based in Ireland.

On the IBM Building's sixth floor, Hughes Corp. built model condo units and a sales gallery that is open by appointment.

The developer began selling half the units in each of the two towers last month by appointment. Company officials declined to reveal sales results, though local real estate agents say few units remain in the higher-priced tower called Waiea, where the cheapest unit starts at $1.5 million. Unit prices for the other tower, called Anaha, start in the $400,000s.

"Sales are exceeding expectations," said Race Randle, director of development for Hughes Corp.

The other units, which are restricted to owner-occupant buyers, are expected to be released later this month or next month after a public notice mandated by the state.