Today, the City and County of Honolulu held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new modular housing project, located at 91-1500 Renton Rd. in ‘Ewa Beach, Hawai‘i. The West Loch Modular Housing Project will be a 58 unit three-story rental housing project using factory produced modular components. Each studio unit will include a bathroom and kitchen and there will be a required number of ADA accessible units. The building will be for individuals or couples at or below 50% area median income as published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The building amenities will include a commercial kitchen, dining room, counseling room and an office for a third party property manager.
“These are the kinds of projects we need in Honolulu to make sure we’re serving our most vulnerable communities,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The challenge to build more affordable housing needs to be met with innovative solutions, and this modular housing project, the first of its kind in the state, is an example of the types of solutions we will hopefully see more of in the future.”
“The Department of Land Management has received strong support from the Mayor and the City Council to pursue innovative methods to increase the production of affordable rental housing and the goal of this project is to accelerate completion of units by as much as 50% while providing units that have been tested and successfully constructed in other cities,” added Department of Land Management Director Sandra Pfund.
In addition, the Project site will have 34 parking stalls with an option to build a second parking lot if the demand exceeds current capacity.
The City and County of Honolulu published a Request for Proposal on August 2019 to receive proposals from experienced modular manufacturers in building multi-story buildings for affordable housing. The goal was twofold: 1) to utilize this innovative building style to expedite the delivery of units, and 2) explore standardization of building design to enable replication that would over time result in time and cost savings to meet the critical affordable housing needs for Honolulu.
In December 2019, the selection committee selected Horizon North, a Canadian based company, as the modular manufacturer. The City of Vancouver, Canada completed projects in 2018 that built 606 modular units on 10 different sites using Horizon North as its manufacturer.
A city-owned property consisting of 1.43 acres in West Loch was selected for the project site. The property had been identified since the 1990’s as a site for affordable housing development and is adjacent to the city’s West Loch Elderly Village Project for affordable senior rental housing and across from the city’s Asing Community Park.
A Notice of Public Hearing for the proposed project at West Loch was posted March 16. The Department of Land Management accepted written testimony until May 20.
The City and County of Honolulu has completed two modular housing projects thus far, but this would be the first multi-story modular building in Honolulu.
The Horizon North design for each modular unit has been modified for Hawai‘i’s weather and local conditions, i.e. larger windows, termite treated wood, ventilation adjustments and fixtures. The design updates were prepared by local architecture/engineering firm G70 and the plans will be permitted under the city Department of Planning and Permitting.
General Contractor T. Iida Contracting, Ltd (“Iida”) has been selected as the site work contractor and will be subcontracting Horizon North to fabricate and deliver the modular housing components. Site work began on July 20. Iida will complete all site work, utilities, foundation, parking lot and landscaping.
The modular components will begin fabrication while the site work is being done. The entire building will be built out of eight different modules which includes residential units, commercial kitchen, office, dining room, stairway, etc. The modular units are expected to arrive in Honolulu by December 2020. The benefit of modular construction is having a product delivered 30 – 50% faster than conventional construction.
Horizon North staff will be on hand to work with Iida when all modules arrive in Honolulu to provide their expertise and guidance on the assembly of the units.