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Foster Tower Starts A New Life

Foster Tower, located on Kalakaua Avenue opposite Kuhio Beach and adjacent to St. Augustine-by-the-Sea Catholic church. Photo by Phil Spalding III

Second in a series

Completed in 1962, 25-story Foster Tower was the first residential highrise built on Kalakaua Avenue across from Kuhio Beach. Developer T. Jack Foster chose one of the best locations in Waikiki…one where no other structures would be erected on the ocean side of Kalakaua with its protected beach park. In addition, the minimal setback of the structure further ensured that all apartments would retain ocean views, those at the front of the building totally unobstructed.

Foster’s first major Hawaii project was Foster Village in the Moanalua district of Oahu, developed in 1957 by T. Jack Foster & Sons, a company he created in 1955. Now Foster Enterprises, the real estate development and investment company – based in Foster City in Northern California – is run by a third generation of Fosters.

According to T. Jack Foster, Jr., his company originally leased the property from Queen Liliuokalani Trust and offered units to buyers on agreements of sale with subleases. Later, in order to convert the building to condominium, the Trust agreed to cancel the lease and replace it with individual leases on each unit.

Recently Queen Liliuokalani Trust offered the leasehold condo owners an opportunity to purchase their units in fee and contracted with Peter Savio to structure the sales program.

“The property was appraised and we are now offering the fee interest to individual leasehold owners at prices ranging from $159,900 to $1,068,000 for a penthouse…averaging between $300,000 and $400,000,” Savio said. “We held an informational meeting for owners in March, and, to date, 100 out of 142 owners have indicated their interest in buying the fee. It is up to each owner to decide whether or not they want to convert. Most have already contracted to purchase their fee interest and their deposits are in escrow.

“A number of buyers had tried to sell in recent years, but were unable to do so due to the short term remaining on the leases which creates problems with financing. Once the fee became available, there was a flurry of sales activity which has since subsided. Many owners chose to buy the fee, not to sell, but simply because they prefer owning to leasing, particularly if they plan to make significant investments in upgrading, which has already begun. They recognize that Foster Tower is an exceptional building.”

Savio has converted approximately 30,000 units from lease-hold to fee simple over the past three decades; his mother, Realtor Emeritus Mary Savio, played a major role in the creation of Hawaii’s condominium law.

He noted that once a building converts to fee, upgrading of the structure, common elements, and apartments generally follows. Common area renovations are at the discretion of the condominium owners association.

A swimming pool on the fourth floor has already been renovated, along with landscaping at the lobby entrance on Kealohilani, where the 141-stall parking garage is located. According to Savio, commercial space on the ground floor is being retained by Queen Liliuokalani Trust.

Erminia Caracciolo, a Realtor with Savio’s Hawaiian Island Homes, has listed a two bedroom, two bath, 1,329 square foot unit on the 9th floor with a panoramic view extending from Diamond Head to Ewa Beach. The unit is priced at $995,000 with the fee offered at $539,000. Caracciolo is representing the current owner in the sale. “The apartment has been nicely decorated and well maintained over the years. This owner glassed in the large lanai to create more usable interior living space. The large top-of-the-line windows not only cut glare but slide back to admit the wonderful ocean breezes. The convenience of this location can’t be overemphasized. You have a wide choice of restaurants and shops within walking distance…and, of course, the beach is right across the street.”

Foster Tower has 24-hour security, a resident manager, and guest parking; vacation rentals, with a minimum stay of 30 days, are available.

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