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1350 Ala Moana – Affordable Luxury in Kakaako

1350 Ala Moana’s prime location on the corner of Piikoi and Ala Moana Blvd

What does the term, “affordable luxury” actually mean, and is there such a thing? Everything is based on perspective, so in the realm of luxury — one would assume it means all of the value or amenities of a luxury experience perceived by a luxury client, but with a price tag that is more “affordable” or of a much lower price than the norm. Enter, 1350 Ala Moana.

I have a special affinity with 1350 Ala Moana because as a Realtor, I have sold and also had rental clients in the building over the past few years. Most recently I assisted a very nice couple with their relocation to Hawaii and there’s quite an interesting story behind it. This eclectic couple, whose names will remain anonymous to preserve their privacy, had given me their wish list for their dream home in Hawaii. Nothing unusual — beautiful views, near the ocean, two bedroom luxury condo, spacious, “must have” lanai or balcony as most call it, and preference for a luxury building in the Kakaako neighborhood. Their budget, $800,000. Long pause. Okay if you’re familiar with luxury condos in Kakaako, you know that price point would be a challenge in this day and age. But I love challenges!! So with a prayer and a creative mindset, I dived into the assignment, and in no time I was able to present my clients with my proposed option — 1350 Ala Moana because of it’s prime location and all the items on their checklist, including a “must have” lanai — which is usually only available at a higher price tag with all the newer luxury condos in the neighborhood. It was important to my clients that the luxury experience would also give them some elements of a Hawaiian sense of place that exuded “warmth” and a “feeling of home.” In their eyes, all the glamorous glass towers while exuding sophistication and the otherworldliness of international cities, felt a little too “icy” for them and too glossy — they wanted luxury from a bygone era that emanates elegance but still feels down to earth and easy.

Beautiful lobby with chandelier created by artist and design legend, Tony Duquette

To give them this sense of warmth and deeper meaning they desired, I thought I’d share with them why 1350 Ala Moana was such a special place. Its history tells a wonderful story. The building was built in 1968 and was the first luxury residential high rise in Honolulu, making it also the first luxury high rise for the Ala Moana Kakaako neighborhood. The vision for the design came from its creator, Mr. Minoru Yamasaki, who was one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century. Besides his first internationally recognized design of the Pacific Science Center in Seattle in 1962 for the World’s Fair, he is also the prominent architect who designed the famous Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center that we all know was destroyed by the tragic events of terrorists on September 11, 2001. To have someone of that stature and international recognition design a local luxury building in Hawaii at that time was simply astounding and pretty cool!

Ocean views rivaling ultra luxe condos next door with much higher price tags

So back to my buyers, I showed them a pretty elegant unit that was listed on the 6th floor of the building and although it didn’t have the ocean view, they were ready to go with it because of the location and it was priced significantly under their budget of $800,000. Then — as a comparison, I asked them if they wanted to see the higher floor ocean view unit that was available — it was “just for fun” because it was quite a bit above their budget. The outcome — they ended up falling in love with the higher floor unit that had magnificent breathtaking views of the Ala Moana beach park and coastline. Although it was listed much higher than my client’s budget, I was able to negotiate for them to get it down to within the $800,000 price range. The result is very happy clients who love their new dream home and a lesson that one should never give up — owning a luxury home in Hawaii under a million dollars is still possible. But hurry,  it won’t last long.

Every unit has a lanai (balcony), a unique value compared to nearby luxe condos

In a nutshell, here is why 1350 Ala Moana stands out among the crowd — its prime location and it’s an older building, so it’s relatively a lower price range than most of the newer luxury buildings in Kakaako neighborhood, but don’t let its age fool you — this iconic building is pristine and well-maintained and still very much exudes the luxury feel you would expect, similar to the feel of a classic Hawaiian luxury hotel. The big maintenance project — the buildings plumbing infrastructure has already been successfully retrofitted with new pipes a few years ago, so the major building assessments have been completed and currently they are upgrading the exterior which looks very clean and elegant with lots of green space. If you’re looking for the experience of having a lanai or balcony to feel like you can walk out to the outdoor beauty — one of the luxurious aspects of this building is that every unit has a spacious lanai, something that isn’t common in the other newer Kakaako glass buildings.

Classic luxury without the “all glass” exterior makes it unique on the luxe corridor

Since ocean view is valued by many clients in this neighborhood — value for value, 1350 Ala Moana has an unobstructed ocean view and oceanfront views that can rival their higher priced neighbors next door — Nauru Tower, Hokua, and even ultra luxe Park Lane directly across from them. So if you dream of Park Lane but can’t spend that high, 1350 Ala Moana will give you those same stunning beautiful ocean views!

Friendly Hawaiian hospitality with 24-hour front desk

Finally, hospitality and great luxury service is provided here at 1350 Ala Moana with a caring and very experienced long-time staff that give residents the feeling of being well cared for. When you enter the building’s lobby, a staff member is always there to greet you and they provide a front desk with full 24-hour services and the warmest Hawaiian hospitality that feels like that old-fashioned intimacy and easiness of a bygone era.

First luxury condominium built in the Ala Moana Kakaako neighborhood at the inception of Ala Moana Shopping Center

I read an excerpt recently that was written in a book of stories called, “Real Estate Diva” by Stephany Sofos, a prominent local real estate consultant, who shared that her mentor was Donald Graham Jr. who was the father of Ala Moana Shopping Center that was built in 1959 and is the largest outdoor shopping mall in America. He shared with her that “the genius behind Ala Moana Shopping Center had not been the design but the fact that they were concurrently able to build all four components of development to feed off each other at the same time.” “Retail” was the shopping center, “Residential” was the 1350 Ala Moana Condominium across Piikoi Street, “Office” was the Ala Moana office building with the La Ronde Restaurant at the top of the building, and “Recreational” was Ala Moana beach park. All of this was built in1959 and it significantly changed the face of Honolulu. Today, with a nod to local history, astute buyers will recognize that the seed that was planted in 1959 back during Honolulu’s Ala Moana shopping center inception — was just the beginning that led to an expanded vision of an urban luxury lifestyle neighborhood that exists today in Ala Moana Kakaako, on the island of Oahu.

For more information about 1350 Ala Moana or other luxury condominiums in the Ala Moana Kakaako neighborhood, contact Rose Medina Kemna, Realtor Broker at (808)497-7673 or rosemkemna@hawaiilife.com

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