Finding Hawaii’s Affordable Condos
Twelfth in a series
Although home prices are escalating and inventory diminishing, there are still exceptional condominium buys to be had in some well located neighborhoods on Oahu…Salt Lake a case in point.
Single family median sales prices year-to-date in July for the Moanalua/Salt Lake neighborhood rose to approximately $100,000 over the current median of $665,000 for Oahu, while the median sales figure for condos remained well below the Oahu median of $350,000. Prices of condos currently listed for sale in Salt Lake range from $119,998 for a leasehold studio to $345,000 for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath fee simple townhome.
Extending from the Honolulu Country Club to Salt Lake Boulevard is the section of this dual neighborhood where 59 condominium highrise and townhome complexes with a total of 5,626 units were built between the 1960s and 2010.
This phase of the overall masterplan of developer Clarence T. C. Ching was undertaken “to provide housing for the middle class,” as stated when he purchased 1,074 acres of undeveloped land in the area from Damon Estate.
The success of the Salt Lake developments was driven by the timing of the various increments vis a vis the economics of the period, the increasing affluence of Oahu’s middle class, and the convenience of the location with easy access to downtown Honolulu, the airport, and Pearl City. Literally surrounded by military bases, the neighborhood attracts a significant percentage of military buyers and renters.
Ching’s vision for the neighborhood included incorporating green space to offset the density of the development. The Honolulu Country Club and golf course, which opened in 1977, were built on and around a filled portion of the Salt Lake. Surrounding the remains of the lake are the Ala Puumalu Community Park and Salt Lake District Park, which includes hiking trails around the slopes of Aliamanu and Aliapaakai craters, basketball and tennis courts, a gym, and swimming pool. The Salt Lake Municipal Park is the site of a Saturday morning People’s Market.
Salt Lake’s condominium inventory is diverse, from studios to three bedroom units and townhomes, many with golf course, mountain, and ocean views. The lowest priced condo on the market is a 300 square foot studio on the 10th floor of the Five Regents at 2888 Ala Ilima Street. The 29 story building, a development of Century Center Limited, was completed in 1978 and includes 100 one bedroom units and 200 studios, all leasehold.
Realtor Barbara Pratt of Century 21 Kailua Beach, who has listed the unit for $119,998, is a specialist in Salt Lake properties and serves as president of the Five Regents Board of Directors. “My history with the Salt Lake area, and specifically with this building, goes back to 1985. I rented an apartment in the Five Regents while attending real estate school and working at the Pearl City Tavern,” Pratt said. “I was with the Tavern for 27 years, so my real estate activity remained part time until the restaurant closed in 1992.
“I’ve acquired units as an investment and handled more than a dozen transactions in this building over the years. The 10th floor studio is a great buy at the price considering that the monthly lease rent is only $48 and the fixed lease extends to 2078. It looks toward Aloha Tower with partial ocean view and receives cool breezes through large slider windows.
“The building, which is pet friendly, has numerous amenities including a recreation and barbecue area, salt water swimming pool, sauna, an area with kitchen facilities that can be reserved by residents for meetings and parties, and an on-site resident manager. This unit comes with one parking space and there’s plenty of guest parking. Security features include a 24-7 guard, patrol, keyed elevators, and an enterphone system.
“Since I started selling units in this building, I’ve had a wide range of buyers…singles, couples, first time buyers, investors, seniors attracted by its convenience with a bus line and the Salt Lake Shopping Center within walking distance. People who work in Downtown Honolulu like the easy commute and affordable prices. The military are a major component of the resident mix in Salt Lake in general. This building in particular is attractive to military since it’s approved for VA financing.”