Classic Makiki Co-Op To Go Condo

homes0305Before there were condominiums, there were coops, and before co-ops, apartment buildings.

The co-op, short for “cooperative housing corporation,” was introduced in Honolulu in the 1950s and gave buyers their first opportunity for ownership in a multiunit building or apartment complex.

“Purchasing a unit in a building registered as a co-op equated to buying shares in an entity that held title to the entire building; the buyer received a proprietary lease granting occupancy of a specific unit, rather than a deed,” explains Peter Savio, who has completed over 10,000 conversions of apartment to condominium and co-op to condominium over the past three decades. “The property is owned by the individual shareholders, with each individual occupant paying a pro rata share, as well as covering any shortfall caused by default on the part of other owner/occupants until their units could be foreclosed and returned to the co-op. To sell or lease the unit, the owner would require approval of the coop’s board of directors. In the 1980s, some provisions of co-op law were changed, making it possible to finance units as individually owned apartments.

“Condominiums, with more flexible and favorable terms of ownership, were first offered in the 1960s. Condominium or ‘horizontal property regime’ law defined a condominium as ‘… ownership of a single unit in a multi-unit structure with common ownership of hallways, stairways, elevators, driveways, etc. … Each unit may be bought, sold, mortgaged, and taxed separately from other units in the structure.'”

Savio is currently serving as a pro bono adviser for a co-op in the process of conversion to condominium, The Oahuan Ltd. Built in 1957, the 46-unit, two-story residence at 1700 Makiki St. was one of the early apartment-style developments in the neighborhood that had been comprised of primarily single-family homes. The four-building complex with its distinctive stone facade and landmark monkeypod tree was designed by one of Hawaii’s most prominent architects of the mid-1900s, Edwin Bauer, whose large body of work includes office buildings, hotels, churches and shopping malls. All units — studios on the upper level and one-bedroom residences on the ground floor — overlook the central courtyard and swimming pool.

Real estate agent Erminia Caracciolo of Savio Realty is marketing available units in the property on behalf of the Oahuan Ltd. Owners Association, or Corporation, which purchased the land from the Violet Maertens family trust when it was offered in 2015. Prices for studios range from $20,000 to $30,000 leasehold, and for one-bedroom units from $30,000 to $40,000 leasehold. The Permanent Proprietary Lease, which gives right of ownership to current owners or new buyers, is approximately $115,000 for studios and $155,000 for one-bedroom units. The Association owns 11 of the parking spaces, which are located in the garage of the adjacent Oahuan Tower.

“As of this date, about 21 of the current unit owners have closed on their Permanent Proprietary Lease and 13 are in escrow,” Caracciolo said. “Some owners have decided to sell their unit rather than buy, and we are placing these on the market. I expect to continue listing these units over the coming months.”

She will hold open houses at The Oahuan Ltd., 1700 Makiki St., including a tour of the property and showing of available units, today, and Sunday, March 12, from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Caracciolo at 497-9451.

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