New Developments

Kuilei Place: A Guide to This Exciting New Development

About Kuilei Place

This is a guide to the very exciting new affordable and market-rate and dog-friendly development being built by the Kobayashi Group in Honolulu, HI. For those who don’t know the Kobayashi Group, Kobayashi is mainly known for their work on high-end luxury buildings and institutional buildings. They have done some non-luxury offerings before, they haven’t done anything quite like Kuilei Place before. This building is likely to be a refreshing one for Honolulu. It is truly built, as they say, “for kama’aina, by kama’aina.” As a person who has helped folks through over 1,600 transactions through my careers, and as someone who is involved in both the residential and commercial real estate sectors, I can say without a doubt that this building looks to be one of the better ones ever constructed in Honolulu. It is also in a very neat location nestled right at the edge of the Kapahulu and University neighborhoods. Because of the unique nature of the land acquisition Kobayashi Group did for this project, it is unlikely that there will be any new developments close to this one any time soon

But What Makes This Truly Different From Other New Developments?

(A Quick Note on Other New Construction Projects Compared to Kuilei)

As you have probably heard through the coconut wireless, many of our new construction projects made by mainland builders (even some luxury ones) have been plagued by some really unfortunate build and design quality issues. Things like bad piping, super tiny parking stalls, cramped spaces, short ceilings, and other unpleasant things. From everything I have seen, Kobayashi Group looked at the shortcomings in other projects and has decided to flip the script on what affordable housing means for Kuilei Place. The construction mockups make the quality seem closer to their luxury offerings such as Park Lane than to comparable affordable projects. The parking stalls are regular-sized (there are no compact spaces according to what I have seen!), the ceilings are taller than in most new construction, and the design features are thoughtful. If you look at the shower in the 2 bedroom units, you will see exactly what I mean—the shower was purposefully designed to be extra-long so that you can fit in the shower as you wash your dog. I was at the Pacific Club for an early-morning commercial realty meeting when Kuilei Place was first announced, and when this feature was mentioned I really thought that this place might be something special. I did my research, as any good attorney-turned-realtor would, and found that the development was something I really wanted people to know about.

I’m honestly pretty excited about this place, but I think you already figured that out. Because I was there when the place was announced, I heard quite a few more details than they even have at the gallery. So, if you are interested in hearing more, please reach out to me at 808-818-8811 and I will be glad to talk to you about this really neat offering.

Here Is the Beautiful Model of Kuilei Place:

digital rendering of new condo building in honolulu

Full render of Kuilei Place, Courtesy Kobayashi Group and the Kuilei Place sales team

And Here Is the Ground Floor Floorplan of Kuilei Place:

kuilei place floorplan honolulu oahu

Ground floor floor plan of Kuilei Place, Courtesy Kobayashi Group and the Kuilei Place sales team

You can probably already tell from the model and the floor plan that this place will be quite architecturally unique. A very stylish and well-thought-out design!

Before we jump into the prices and such, a quick word on the timelines:

For Market Rate Owner-Occupant Buyers:

Owner-occupant units will be placed into a lottery. To get in the lottery for these, we need to have an application submitted (with all t’s crossed and all i’s dotted) on or before March 5, 2023 at 5:00pm. For these, the first step is doing the gallery visit with me (because usually on new construction if you don’t go with your own realtor [ie, me!] you will probably get a random one assigned randomly, and that isn’t always preferable since it is nice to have a choice). The market rate units remaining after this will be available on a first-come, first-served basis if any remain (and they may not—there are a lot of folks interested!) There is a packet oyu need to do to apply for this, and an affidavit stating you will live there for at least one year

For Market-Rate Non-Owner-Occupant Buyers (ie. Investors):

First thing first: There is no guarantee that any units will be available to non-owner-occupants. This development is truly something special, so I would be surprised if many or any units are available for investment buyers. Fact is, the location is unique, and the rental income could be rather good for an investor, so local buyers may jump in quite quickly to grab units in the lottery. If these are available, it will be after the owner-occupant units are accounted for. I expect more details to flow to the public starting March 5, 2023 when the owner-occupant applications are processed and numbers of taken units are counted.

For HHFDC Affordable Buyers:

HHFDC Affordable units will be placed into a lottery. We have a bit more time to prepare, but there is a lot more planning to be done for affordable units. First step is, of course, doing the gallery visit with me (because if you don’t go with your own realtor you probably get a random one assigned at random). Then after that, we need to run numbers on whether and how much you can afford and whether you will need a co-signer. I’ll need to quickly connect you with a project lender (someone who is on a short list of folks Kobayashi Group will work with). That person does a pre-approval that is slightly more difficult than a regular preapproval to get your packet ready—you do not need to use this lender as your final lender when you buy, so if you find a preferred lender or better rates you are free to do so when you actually purchase. Next step is submitting the packet—that’s something I will help you go over if you are wanting to apply. It must be submitted and in perfect condition on or before April 14, 2023 at 5:00pm.

Some Info on How To Qualify for the HHFDC Affordable Condo Units:

In order to be found eligible by the HHFDC (they are the ones that make the decision, not me and not Kuilei Place) for an affordable unit, you must be a “qualified resident,” have an income that is at or below 140% of the Area Median Income (AMI), and be a “first-time homebuyer.” Probably none of these terms mean what you think they mean. Please note that I am giving the “easy” definitions, so there may be exceptions and special subrules. For that information, I have a link to more information right after the descriptions. Also, please note that none of this is legal advice. We will start with the easiest ones and go to the hardest ones:

First-Time Homebuyer:

This simply means a person that has not owned a property anywhere in the world for one year prior to the date you apply. There are a few exceptions though to this rule, but that’s something to discuss with HHFDC

Qualified Resident:

In short summary, you need to be at least 18 years old, a US citizen or permanent resident alien, a legal resident and domiciliary of the state of Hawaii, and you can’t own more than 50% of a fee simple or leasehold property anywhere in the world suitable for dwelling purposes. You also need to be able to fall into income thresholds, have enough money for a deposit and down payment, have enough income to qualify for the mortgage, and have a need for affordable housing as defined by state law.

Income Guidelines at 140% AMI:

Here is the information directly from the Kuilei sales team.

affordable housing guidelines

Income guidelines Courtesy Kobayashi Group and the Kuilei Place sales team

Here’s the official link to the HHFDC.

Super Important for Affordable:

To be able to apply for affordable you must attend a seminar on the affordable programs. The next program is on February 19, 2023 at 10am-11am (that is the one I intend to be at to help answer any questions you may have!). Other times may be announced later, but it is better to go to this as soon as you possibly can. If you do not attend one of these, you can’t do the affordable application. Here is the link to register for the seminar.

And Now Into a Couple of Money Logistics if You Win the Lotteries:

  • If you win the lottery, you need to put down a down payment of $500 to execute the contract
  • Within 30 days of signing the contract and paying the $500, you need to pay 5% of the price of the unit as a down payment (minus that original $500 that goes into the down payment).
  • A relative can help you pay toward the price of the condo if you cannot afford it on your own. But, there is a limit to how much a relative can assist you in buying a unit. “Gift funds” from a relative are limited to no more than 35% of the price of the condo unit.

Some Affordable-Specific Questions:

Question 1: My income fits within the range of affordable buyers, but I can’t actually afford it. Can I have a co-signer?

Answer: Yes, you sure can. Although I am not the world’s biggest advocate of co-signing, since it is a risk to the other folks on the mortgage, you are allowed to have co-signers on the mortgage if your income isn’t high enough to qualify on your own.

Question 2: My relative is co-signing but they want to be on the deed because of the risk—can I do that?

Answer: Maybe or maybe not. It depends. If they are on the deed, they are just a co-buyer so they need to fulfill all the requirements under HHFDC for the affordable purchase.

Question 3: I want a specific unit. Can I get it?

Answer: Well, it all comes down to how much you can afford and where you get picked in the lottery. You can only pick units up to your preapproval price when you pick, so the less you can get preapproved for, the lower the selection you ultimately get. So, let’s say you get a preapproval for a maximum of $380,000—you will get less potential selections when it is time to choose units (based on your lottery number) than if you had a preapproval for $600,000. If you get confused, just shoot me a text at 808-818-8811.

Question 4: I want to buy affordable and I have a favorite lender and they aren’t a project lender. Can I use them?

Answer:  You probably can in a couple of years when the project is completed, but you can’t for the initial application. To be able to apply, you need to get a pre-approval from a project lender. If you want me to connect you with a project lender, just let me know 🙂

Question 5: When will the project be finished?

Answer: They are shooting for a completion date by end of 2025.

Question 6: How long do I need to own my unit before I can rent or sell it?

Answer: At least ten years. If you rent or sell it before then, you are subject to HHFDC regulations which may include a buyback at the original purchase price. These details will be discussed more at the affordable housing presentation. If you have questions after that we can talk more.

Question 7: How much is shared equity and what does it mean?

Answer: It is a percentage calculation based upon the difference between what you have paid and what the appraised value of the building might be. You can pay this off early usually, or can pay this off upon selling your unit years from now. These details will be discussed in greater length at the affordable housing presentation. If you have questions after that we can talk more. 🙂

Question 8: Do I qualify for affordable housing at Kuilei?

Answer: Maybe! It depends on where your income falls on the eligibility chart.

Quick HHFDC resources. These go deeply in depth on the programs but are rather difficult to read. I don’t suggest reading these unless you have big questions after the seminar:

Click here for detailed info on the buyback program.

Click here for detailed info on the shared equity program.

Prices and Square Footage at Kuilei:

Here are the price ranges for the units, with their square footage ranges:

price and sqaure footage of kuilei condo units

Courtesy Kobayashi Group and Kuilei Place sales team

The first thing you will probably notice is that there are ranges of square footage and ranges of prices. The second thing you will probably notice is that the affordable units are in general smaller than market-rate units. The affordable units are also, in general, in less desirable locations view-wise. While the building has some great ocean views from the higher floors, the affordable units have mainly city and mountain views. Long story short, the affordable units are cheaper partially because they are smaller, partially because they don’t have ocean views, and partially because of government funding. Honestly, it is a pretty smart way to structure things given the need for housing that folks can actually afford. And here is another cool thing: from the top floor (floor number 43), as shown in this mockup, everyone can see the ocean and Diamond Head views! This is a reservable dining and event space, and this floor also contains a karaoke lounge for residents and their guests to use.

view of diamond head through large windows

Rendering of Floor 43 by Steelblue, courtesy Kobayashi Group and Kuilei Place sales team

A Few Exciting Features at Kuilei Place:

Dog-Friendly Development:

dog park at kuilei in honolulu

Rendering of Dog Park at Kuilei Courtesy Kobayashi Group and the Kuilei Sales Team

This place was made with dogs in mind. Kuilei Place has two dog parks on the bottom floor so your four-legged friend can play! The showers in some of the two-bedroom and three-bedroom units were specifically designed for a dog to easily fit inside for an easy at-home dog wash.


Kuilei Place is doing something truly unique. Kobayashi Group was very thoughtful when they decided to invest in a full greywater system for the condominium. The system is the first of its kind in Hawai’i. When you use water in your sinks, it is recaptured, filtered, sterilized, and then is piped to the toilets and to the landscape irrigation. The system is estimated to save as much as 11 million gallons of water per year. This likely means MUCH lower maintenance costs for the residents.

Low HOA Fee:

Kuilei Place is launching with an HOA of $0.68/square foot. This is way lower than in comparable buildings. Unlike in other affordable developments, this HOA fee is not expected to rise astronomically after the first year. Kobayashi Group tried to develop this property with the tools to be managed in an affordable manner rather than focusing just on the profit margins.

Careful Interior Design:

The kitchens are spacious and customizable with your choice of two different color schemes. Unlike in other new construction, the kitchen is large enough that multiple people can be in the kitchen at once! The rooms also have a great flow of space. From what I can see, most of the floor space is useful—Kobayashi Group designed the units to minimize hallways and increase the usable footprint of the floors.

Great Amenities:

The amenities at Kuilei Place include a swimming pool, fitness center, mail room, cabanas, and multiple club rooms. The development will also have 7,000 square feet of commercial space on the bottom floor and it is rumored that a grocery store will be one of the commercial tenants. Also, there will be full-sized guest parking. If you have been into certain other new construction buildings before, you will know how important this is. I have personally needed to exit my car through the trunk before at one of those developments. Inviting guests over without worrying whether they can get into and out of their cars is a major plus.

The Floor Plans:

There are several ranges of square footage and price for each type of unit (1, 2, and 3 bedrooms). This is because there are a variety of floor plans. The prices differ based upon their size, layout, and likely also their view. There are a total of 17 different floor plans, so going through them would be an article of its own. Honestly, if you are interested in hearing more, I think maybe we should just schedule a time to tour the gallery together and I can walk you through the floor plans and their differences. Putting them all on here would probably just be information overload. Shoot me a call or text if you want to go to the gallery and check these out. 808-818-8811

Here is a taster, though…

The Floor Plan for Levels 2 Through 12 of Kuilei Place:

floor plans of floors 2 through 12 at kuilei

Floor plan of floors 2 through 12, Courtesy Kobayashi Group and the Kuilei Place Sales Team

The Floor Plan for Levels 13 Through 42 of Kuilei Place:

floor plans for floors 13 through 42 at kuilei condo in honolulu

Floor plan of floors 13 through 42, Courtesy Kobayashi Group and the Kuilei Place Sales Team

My Concluding Remarks:

If you are able to buy within the Kuilei Place development, in either the affordable or the market rate units, I think this may be one of the best new developments in years. The place is thoughtfully designed and is made with Hawai’i and the kama’aina in mind. I am personally excited about this place. Kobayashi Group is doing some very cool things here. Shoot me a call, text, or an email if you want to talk about this great project. Quick note: I respond fastest to texts and calls, so that’s the best way to reach me!

Here is my email:

Here is my phone: 808-818-8811

If you want to know a bit more about me before you call, here is an article about my unique background: “On Being an Attorney and a Realtor in Hawaii.” And here is a link to my professional profile.

A quick thank you to the Kuilei Place sales team for allowing realtors like me to use their images to spread the great news about this development. These images are all the property of Kuilei Place and its developers, and I appreciate your permission to re-post these images. Mahalo!! Cover photo also courtesy Kobayashi Group and the Kuilei Sales Team.

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February 16, 2023

I like it!

Joey Furlett

February 16, 2023

> So do I, James! That’s why I wrote about it 🙂 If you have ay questions just let me know.

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