Downtown Office Building Set for Conversion into Student Housing

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor Maui developer Greg Hatcher of GC Pacific Inc. plans to turn the vacant 12-story Queen Emma Building in downtown Honolulu into a 130-unit, 260-bed dormitory for students from Hawaii Pacific University. The Pacific Business News reports that the developer will invest about $9 million into the makeover of the 80,918-square-foot [...]

Maui developer Greg Hatcher of GC Pacific Inc. plans to turn the vacant 12-story Queen Emma Building in downtown Honolulu into a 130-unit, 260-bed dormitory for students from Hawaii Pacific University.

The Pacific Business News reports that the developer will invest about $9 million into the makeover of the 80,918-square-foot midrise structure affectionately known as the “Pimple Building” due to its brick exterior. Greg Hatcher told the newspaper that he would not make any changes to the outside layer, as he would like to preserve the building’s distinctive look. He expects the new dormitory to open by next year’s fall session.

According to property records, Greg Hatcher purchased the office facility at 1270 Queen Emma St. in September 2010 for $8.7 million. The seller was an affiliate of Honolulu resident Armand Behpour, who had also planned to convert the building into housing for college students before entering into a legal dispute with a development partner.

The Queen Emma Building is adjacent to the Capitol Place and Pinnacle condominium towers and only a couple of blocks from the Hawaii Pacific University campus on Fort Street Mall in downtown Honolulu.

In related news, Thomas Winegar and his wife, Susan Furchgott, are planning to build an apartment complex with 14 three-bedroom units in close proximity to the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH) on the Big Island. If approved, the new development could help address the area’s shortage of student housing.

Construction of a similar project is underway on the university’s campus, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. Phase I of UHH’s University Village is expected to bring 300 new beds by next fall.

UHH Relations Director Gerald DeMello told the newspaper that housing continues to be an issue for the growing campus. “The reason that we’re building student housing is because students get admitted every year and then if we can’t provide them with housing, they opt not to come,” De Mello said.

Last academic year, the university experienced record enrollment and was able to provide on-campus housing for only about 15 percent of all freshman students.

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