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Sandwiched between the actual downtown area of Honolulu on the west and Ala Moana on the east is the neighborhood called Kaka?ako. It is also bordered by the southern shoreline of Oahu and the neighborhood of Makiki to the north. Kaka’ako is a commercial and retail district in Honolulu that is currently undergoing a major transformation funded by a project from Kamehameha Schools and Castle and Cooke Homes. Over the next few years to come, Kaka’ako is sure to become one of the most desirable areas in all of Honolulu.
Centuries ago, Kaka?ako was once a thriving Native Hawaiian community with agricultural terraces. It was known for salt making, wetland agriculture and fishing. Because it is bordered by the southern shoreline of Oahu, it was also a port for foreign ships. Unfortunately, in the mid-1800s, those ships brought smallpox to Kaka’ako which devastated the area.
Fast-forward to the mid-1900s, Kaka’ako was revitalized with commercial businesses which took over the residential properties. For the most part, the area consisted of industrial business.
Today, Kaka’ako is undergoing another come back. This time, the focus is on condos and a stronger neighborhood atmosphere complete with a focal point containing retail and commercial mixed-use space.
Our Kaka’ako is a new real estate project under construction in Kaka’ako. Its development is directed by Kamehameha Schools and Castle Cook Homes Hawai’i and is estimated to take up to 20 years to complete. The project plans focus on sustainability using existing warehouse space and other existing structures as well as new construction to create 183 residential properties that include 88 rental units and 95 properties for purchase. Additionally, there are plans for existing properties into residential and commercial space. Pedestrian crossways, walking pats green spaces and streetscapes are also in the plans.
Included in Our Kaka’ako is the mixed-use space called SALT. The name comes from the fact that Kaka’ako was known for the salt in the ponds once scattered throughout the area. SALT plans show an 85,000-square foot neighborhood of sorts with retail, restaurants, and other professional and other businesses. Already in place and very popular is the world-renowned artist gathering called POW! WOW! as well as the Honolulu Night Market. SALT has the potential to create more excitement to Kaka’ako.
Completed in 2012, Six Eighty is the first building to be completed under the “Our Kaka’ako” master plan. Its name comes from its address at 680 Ala Moana Boulevard, formerly an office building along this main thoroughfare through Honolulu. Six Eighty offers affordable housing consisting of studio and one-bedroom loft apartments of which 54 units are reserved for median-income renters. On the ground floor, there are small boutiques and shops as well as cafes such as Lanikai Juice and Highway Inn.
Another project in Kaka’ako under development is Ward Village, a neighborhood that is designed to be close-knit and very walkable. It features nationally recognized businesses and restaurants (Whole Foods and Nobu) along with locally owned businesses, outdoor gathering areas, entertainment venues, a public park and more. It is a carefully planned development with a mix of eclectic, urban and island living that embraces the Hawai’ian culture. Included in the planned 60-acre Ward Village are five condominium properties with completions expected between this fall and 2020.
Even though a lot of Kaka’ako is undergoing a drastic overhaul, there are attractions that bring people to the area to live, work and play. There are several parks and other outdoor venues that draw residents from this and other neighborhoods.
The Kaka’ako Waterfront Park is a 35-acre park along the shoreline built on a closed landfill. While there is no beach, it features lots of green space and is a popular place for fishing and offers access to off-shore surfing and dive sites.
Other parks around Kaka’ako include Kewalo Basin Park and Ala Moana Beach Park (even though it is not technically in Kaka’ako) where people love to go run, swim, surf, fish or just be outside.
There are lots of options when it comes to shopping and dining in Kaka’ako. In addition to Our Kaka’ako’s mixed-use development, SALT, and the shops and restaurants at Six Eighty, there are venues within Kaka’ako that also include shops and restaurants. Ward Village features nationally known restaurants and retail shops as well as unique locally-owned businesses. On top of what is within one to two-block walk from Kaka’ako are Ala Moana Center and Downtown Honolulu. Shopping and dining Waikiki are just a short drive as well.
Kaka’ako’s popularity is growing by leaps and bounds which reflects in the real estate. There are units in older condominiums that start as low as $200K allowing first-time buyers to move into the area; however, since Kaka’ako’s transformation appeals to lots of people, real estate is in high demand. The real estate market reflects what is happening in Kaka’ako. In addition to the established condominiums, there are more planned or already under construction. The area is so popular that some of the newer projects have units sold or are sold out before the construction is completed or even started.
For condominium resales, most list prices start in the mid-$400s to mid-$500s for a one-bedroom in one of the more updated condominiums like Royal Capitol Plaza, Imperial Plaza, Hokua and Keola La’i (all of which are situated in the heart of Kaka’ako) and climb well into the millions for top floor penthouses or larger units on high floors with ocean views. New construction condominiums such as A’eo, Gateway Towers, and Anaha offer units starting in the $800s and topping $7 million and higher.
Living in and moving to Kaka’ako is on the rise because of its prime location, its walkability and how it is becoming the urban spirit of Honolulu. It is close to everything and has so much potential. When relocating to this community, it is important to have an idea of the objective in buying real estate then not “thinking” too long about a decision. Real estate options go fairly quickly especially in the more popular or newer condominiums. There is a lot of excitement around Kaka’ako with speculations that this community is going to become one of the most exciting and fastest growing areas Hawai’i has seen in years.
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