If we get lucky (and provide incentives for Hawaii’s real estate investors) in 10-20 years we will have meaningful increase in affordable housing units at or near Honolulu’s 20 rail stops. The increase in density at these locations will provide housing, transportation and access to employment for tens of thousands of new residents to our island. The increase in population and employed members of society will provide denser neighborhoods where commerce in retail and commercial real estate in Hawaii will take place. Read more about the first neighborhood on Oahu to begin specific planning for mixed use developments.
Oahu’s planned mass-transit line promises relief for many commuters facing present and future traffic troubles, but the rail system also might help relieve another social ill: the lack of affordable housing.
Experts on Hawaii land use and development policies see rail as a huge opportunity to address an affordable-housing crisis that more or less has festered over the last decade despite efforts by state leaders and community organizations.
The rail line’s 21 planned stations between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center are expected to be catalysts for new urban development to which the city attaches requirements and/or incentives to build affordable housing.
“With the right infrastructure, zoning and incentives, I think it is extremely doable,” said Chuck Wathen, chief executive of Hawaii Housing Alliance, a group that advocates for affordable housing.
The estimated $5.3 billion public works project is of such a scale that with the right ideas, producing affordable work-force housing connected with rail could rival the biggest past initiatives on Hawaii’s most populous island.