A newly transformed suburban neighborhood with a local feel.
Fee simple condominiums are the predominant type of home in this dynamic urban neighborhood centrally located to all the amenities Honolulu has to offer. The Kakaako transformation from industrial warehouses and garages to a modern, open spaces urban community is ongoing, with several condominium complexes completed and others in various stages of construction or development. The new Kakaako has home options from affordable to luxurious for all who want to become a part of its exciting future.
Along the coastline and next to the downtown business district, Kakaako is being transformed from a commercial area to a vibrant urban planned neighborhood. The low-rise and high-rise mixed-use condo community has over 10,000 residents at present and 30,000 projected when the last condo unit is sold. The neighborhood will provide commuting, shopping, cultural enrichment, and lifestyle options when the transformation is complete. Kakaako is within minutes of marinas, parks, and beaches. On its eastern border are the Ala Moana Center and gateway to Waikiki.
In the 1950s, zoning changed Kakaako from a primarily residential community to a commercial and industrial area, causing many residents to move elsewhere. Today, Kakaako is returning to its residential roots. While a small corner of Kakaako has older single-family homes, two master planned communities are at the forefront of reviving the area. The plans include low-rise apartments and high-rise condos. Together these visionaries are creating a synergistic urban neighborhood with all the inclusive amenities for a vibrant lifestyle.
Kamehameha Schools, partnering with local developers, is in the midst of constructing its planned community, Our Kakaako. Excited about the vitality this planned community is bringing back to Kakaako, Kamehameha Schools describes it as a place “where cultural values and modern spaces coexist in harmony!” It’s all about creating a vibrant future while remembering the heritage that will shape it.
The Our Kakaako plans for a trendy local community include mixed-use rental units and saleable high-rise condos. The first increment of two has been constructed. The second increment is scheduled to include Alia, Kahuina, Kaliu, and several unannounced developments.
High-rise condos built before the planned community benefit from the new amenities, such as the repurposed Salt shopping block with its boutiques, restaurants, creative workplaces, and ongoing events. Murals and street art featuring the history and legacy of Kakaako enliven walking areas and gathering places, enhancing the sense of community. Breweries and shops in renovated warehouses add to the unique character of evolving Kakaako.
With several planned communities in its portfolio, The Howard Hughes Corporation is developing Ward Village. The company avows a “commitment to design excellence and to the cultural life of its communities.” Indeed, Architectural Digest magazine named Ward Village “Best-Planned Community in the United States” in 2017. The chosen designer for each project has world-class credentials.
Ward Village also has the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for Neighborhood Development. A few features of this certification are protecting and preserving local ecology, encouraging renewable energy production, and providing open public spaces that promote community and physical activities.
The units in the first five high-rise condo towers are sold or being re-sold in the real estate market. The sixth and seventh Ward Village high-rise towers are in the last stages of construction. The plan is for 16 towers in a range of prices from “affordable” to incredibly luxurious. The ninth tower, Ulana, will feature reserved, or affordable, housing units as did the completed ‘A’ali’i tower. The recently approved tenth tower, Kalae, is expected to offer luxury condos.
The three Ward Village shopping districts offer almost everything a resident needs, from grocery and farmers’ market to designer shops and boutiques, entertainment choices, and a wide range of dining options. Ala Moana Center, Hawaii’s largest shopping center, is within walking distance of these shopping districts.
Ward Village has many planned amenities to complete the community. Walkability is an essential aspect of an urban community and, like Our Kakaako, is emphasized in the design of Ward Village. Residents will appreciate pedestrian promenades, wider tree lined sidewalks with benches, open-air cafes, connected public spaces, parks, and bike paths. In 2023, a new pedestrian bridge over Ala Moana Blvd. will connect Ward Village residents to Kewalo Basin Harbor, Kakaako Waterfront Park, Ala Moana Beach Park, the Waikiki Yacht Club, and Ala Wai Boat Harbor.
With Kakaako’s unique condo community lifestyle, residents can experience luxury living, stunning scenery all around, and convenience to work, shopping, and leisure. Kakaako is healthy living in an ecletic landscape of high- and low-rise world-class architecture, repurposed warehouses and breweries, and gathering places in open spaces encouraging the ever-present spirit of community past.
Before the English arrived on Oahu, Hawaiians utilized Kakaako for fishpond farming as well as shoreline and deep sea fishing. The area was also known for its highly valued salt ponds. Hawaiian royalty decided to build houses in bountiful Kakaako.
The city’s roots began when an English sea captain realized that the harbor in Honolulu could float the sailing ships of the 1790s. Whaling and East-West trade brought new merchants to Honolulu and, later, with the inception of sugar cane plantations, contract laborers.
Immigrant camps sprang up in nearby Kakaako and would eventually become tenements for workers. Kakaako was a working class area further forged by the 1852 opening of the Honolulu Iron Works, manufacturing sugar-harvesting equipment for Hawaii and, later, customers worldwide. The factory would eventually relocate a few blocks east to Kakaako and employ 1500 workers, creating more residential development, small businesses, churches, schools, and neighborhoods. Kakaako became a caring, close-knit multi-cultural community.
However, Honolulu, including Kakaako, was hit by devastating disease – three times. In 1853, an American merchant ship brought smallpox to Honolulu. Patients, many Hawaiian, were quarantined in Kakaako. Over 1,000 Hawaiians are buried in a small cemetery on South St., with more remains found in Kakaako excavation sites.
In 1881, a leprosy hospital was dedicated in Kakaako to meet an outbreak of the disease but abandoned within a decade. In 1903, the Chinatown fire resulted from an effort to contain the bubonic plague. As the fires blew out of control, Kawaiaha’o Church on the eastern edge of Kakaako sheltered over 4,000 fleeing Chinatown residents.
Because the fire leveled Chinatown, many Japanese and Chinese residents moved to Kakaako while rebuilding their businesses. With insufficient housing and work to be had, the area filled with various ethnic groups crammed in dilapidated housing. However, sharing and shared experiences, regardless of ethnicity, further bonded this blue-collar community.
As the twentieth century progressed, more industrial firms built on dredged and filled-in land in Kakaako. This trend continued through the first half of the century, and in the 1950s, most of Kakaako was rezoned from residential to industrial/commercial. Kakaako had become something of an eyesore along Honolulu’s scenic coastline. Planning began as early as 1976 to rezone as commercial and residential and revitalize Kakaako, with a plan adopted in 1982. This plan was revised in 2011, moving the various development projects forward to the many exciting things happening in Kakaako today.
The makeup of residents in Kakaako is as varied as its various types of structures. However, this is traditional in the Kakaako neighborhood. In the past, everyone helped one another, regardless of ethnic background. The residents then were predominantly Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese. While the evolving Kakaako consists of even more ethnicities, many with former roots in Kakaako will still be here to “talk story.” However, a new, even more diverse ethnic community creating its own history is exciting.
CONDOS FOR SALE
Kakaako is very unique and highly sought-after, but if you like condo living and prefer to live outside of Kakaako, then check out condos for sale in Waikiki. You could also do a broader search for Honolulu condos for sale.
The yearly high temperatures are between 80°F (27°C) and 89°F (32°C). The yearly low temperatures are between 65°F (18°C) and 75°F (24°C).
The monthly rainfall is between negligible and less than 3 inches (76 mm). More rain occurs during the winter months. On average, there are five rainy days in the winter months and two rainy days in the summer months.
The average water temperatures are between 75°F (24°C) and 80°F. (27°C).
The nearby downtown business district (CBD) is just minutes away by car; however, the convenience of Kakaako allows for walking, jogging, or biking for those residents interested. When the streets are overflowing with traffic, these alternatives might look very appealing – saving parking costs and good for one’s health, too!
Buses also flow between Kakaako and the CBD and throughout Honolulu and the island. Taxis, Uber, and Lyft options are also available. The new rail system running east from Kapolei is expected to begin in 2031 and will terminate in Kakaako at Halekauwila and South Sts., east of Punchbowl St. Future plans include two more stops at Ward Ave. and Ala Moana Center.
Kakaako’s central urban location provides easy access to major roadways, other Honolulu neighborhoods, and the H-1 Freeway to other parts of Oahu.
As Kakaako’s transformation continues, a resident may not need to leave Kakaako to work from home or at one of the many new job opportunities created by Kakaako’s changing landscape.
Two public elementary schools (PK-5) serve the Kakaako neighborhood; however, both schools are beyond Kakaako’s bordering streets. Plans for a 10-story public elementary school in Kakaako are stalled in the legislature.
Two public middle schools (6-8) also serve Kakaako neighborhoods but are also outside of Kakaako’s bordering streets. The high school (9-12) is in Kakaako. The high school also has an adult education program.
Several private and religious schools (PK-12) are located along the H-1 Freeway in Kahala and Manoa.
University of Hawai’i Kapi’olani Community College is near Diamond Head in Kaimuki, and University of Hawai’i at Manoa is just off the H-1 Freeway in Manoa. Hawaii Pacific University is downtown next to the Aloha Tower.
Straub Medical Center, The Queen’s Medical Center, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children, and Shriners Children’s Hospital are all within minutes of Kakaako.
Straub received the America’s 250 Best Hospital Award in 2020 and 2021 and the Outstanding Patient Experience Award for the past 12 years. Straub is currently working on the first phase of a new state-of-the-art hospital facility in the same area as its present facility. Kapi’olani Medical Center is a member of the Hawai’i Pacific Health system, which includes Straub.
The Queen’s Medical Center is recognized as a Magnet hospital, the highest national honor for nursing excellence.
On the western boundaries of Honolulu, Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center and Tripler Army Medical Center for military personnel, their dependents, and retirees are also accessible via the H-1 Freeway.
Straub and Queen’s also have urgent care clinics in Kakaako.
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