With new resorts going up all over the Kona side of Hawaii's Big Island, Developer UniDev Hawaii knew there was a great need for affordable and workforce housing. Many of the tourism- and construction-related jobs didn't pay enough to allow employees to live in town. “Many workers were forced to literally drive from the other side of the island,” says Jeff Minter, CEO and president of the Honolulu-based development team. “This is the Big Island, so you are talking about a two-hour drive each way.”
So UniDev answered a request for bids from the county offering to donate 275 acres of land to make it financially possible to build an affordable housing project on the island. The 1,200-unit development, Kamakoa at Waikoloa, is the first on the island to use Community Facilities District (CFD) taxes to fund infrastructure development. The architect, Honolulu-based MVE Pacific, an arm of Irvine, Calif.-based MVE & Partners, designed Kamakoa to embrace neotraditional town concepts such as pocket parks, tree-lined sidewalks, and natural multi-use trails. Architect Ernesto Vasquez says he studied Hawaii's history of plantation living and mimicked its clustered style of development.
“In the plantations, there were these old villages with little roads and a market center,” Vasquez says. “You don't have the strong grid system that is typical in the city. It is more of an agricultural evolution.” Kamakoa will include rental apartments, single-room occupancy housing, and for-sale units. Construction started in December 2007, and the first buildings are expected to be complete in 2009.
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Isabella, a ground-up, seven-story condominium development, is offering 63 luxury units this fall. Brooklyn-based developer OL Washington joined with New York City-based Architect Steven B. Jacobs Group to build homes ranging from 467-square-foot studios to 1,658-square-foot, three-bedroom units. All will feature floor-to-ceiling windows and have access to a part-time doorman, 24-hour virtual doorman, video intercom security systems, and a residents-only rooftop and fitness center. Select homes will offer private outdoor space and radiant floor heating. Prices start at $285,000 for studios.
- Des Plaines, Ill.: Chicago-based Lexington Homes has announced the opening of three models at Lexington Park, a community of 120 townhomes in the northwest suburb. Lexington Park marks the second of three communities the developer plans to launch this year. The project offers three floor plans ranging from 1,605 square feet to 1,913 square feet with a price range of $324,990 to $379,990. The three-story units have two or three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and attached two-car garages with options for additional bedrooms and powder rooms.
- Charlotte, N.C.: Crosland and Eastern Federal Corp.'s joint venture, named Tranquil Court on Selwyn, is now under construction to provide a $42 million mixed-use project about 4 miles from downtown Charlotte. Two buildings on a 2.73-acre site will ultimately provide 109 units ranging from 562 square feet to 1,419 square feet. Condos start at $185,000. The project will also include 63,000 square feet of Class A office space for small- and medium-sized businesses and pedestrian-level retail. Completion is set for late 2009.
- Arlington, Va.: The Shooshan Co. is bringing a mixed-use project called Founder's Square to its hometown. The 5.35-acre Founder's Square will contain two office buildings, two residential buildings with 362 units, and a single-story retail building along with open space for park use.
- New York City: In the first of a five-phase project, Albany, N.Y.-based developer Omni Housing Development has renovated 154 units of the Rockville Centre Apartments, Rockville Centre's only low-income housing complex. The major qualification for residency is a household income at or below 60 percent of the Nassau County area median income. The first phase is scheduled for completion in September 2009.
- Mataway, N.J.: American Properties Realty, based in Iselin, N.J., recently opened its newest luxury community, The Preserve at Matawan, a 157-unit development in 10 three-story buildings. All condominiums include two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and up to 1,635 square feet of living space. Pre-construction pricing is in the high $200,000s.
- Sparks, Nev.: Las Vegas-based Fore Property Co. started construction this summer on a 300-unit luxury apartment community on 20 acres near retail, restaurants, and golf courses. The two-story, garden-style buildings were designed by Phoenix-based Biltform Architecture Group. The units will consist of one- to three-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom lofts ranging in size from 825 square feet to 1,331 square feet. The first units will be available for occupancy in June 2009.
- Harlem, N.Y.: POKO Partners, a private real estate company based in Port Chester, N.Y., is selling Delany Lofts, named after sisters Sadie and Bessie Delany, whose life stories were depicted in a novel and Broadway play. The project has overcome a tough housing market, selling 70 percent as of July. Delany has two newly constructed, seven-story buildings with 25 one-bedroom, one-bath lofts and 11 one-bedroom, two-bath loft duplexes with terraces. Prices range from $420,000 to $1 million.
- Long Beach, Calif.: Irvine, Calif.-based Jamboree Housing Corp. recently opened Puerto del Sol Apartment Homes, a 64-unit affordable housing community in the city's downtown. Puerto del Sol features two- to four-bedroom apartments and flats for low-income families who earn from 40 percent to 50 percent of area median income.