Coordinates: 21°17′46.73″N 157°51′19.76″W / 21.2963139°N 157.8554889°W / 21.2963139; -157.8554889
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View of Kakaʻako from the Kakaʻako Waterfront Park

Kakaʻako is a commercial and retail district of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi between Ala Moana near Waikīkī to the east and downtown Honolulu and Honolulu Harbor to the west. Kakaʻako is situated along the southern shores of the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi.


Walter Murray Gibson with the Sisters of St. Francis at the Kapiolani Home for Girls built near Kakaʻako Branch Hospital for the daughters of Hansen's disease patients

Kakaʻako was once a thriving Native Hawaiian community with agricultural terraces where Hawaiian royalty once lived. Kamehameha I had a residence with his family and personal kahuna and chief adviser Hewahewa. Hawaiians used the region for fishpond farming, salt making, wetland agriculture and human burials, according to Cultural Surveys Hawaii, which did several reports on the area.[1]

Through recent development projects many locations have unearthed ancient Hawaiian burials (iwi) thought to be scattered throughout the district. One area in particular, the Honuakaha Smallpox Cemetery, has more than a thousand Iwi.[1]

In 1976, Kakaʻako was an industrial district under city control. It got caught in a political feud between then-Mayor Frank Fasi and then-Gov. George Ariyoshi. Hawaiʻi lawmakers founded Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) in April 1976 as a way to prevent Fasi from using Kakaʻako as political leverage against Ariyoshi. The agency produced editorial opposition from local papers.[2]

Modern day[edit]

Halekauwila Street along new residential and commercial development in the Ward Village area.

The civic centers of Kakaʻako are Victoria Ward Centers and the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. On the ocean side is the John A. Burns School of Medicine, part of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. It is also the location of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center, a research center designated by the National Cancer Institute. The main roads through Kakaʻako are Ala Moana Boulevard and Kapiʻolani Boulevard. In recent years, the area has been diversifying by adding more residential development.[3]

HCDA is planning for up to 30 new buildings to be constructed in the area. The plans have produced protests by residents. HCDA rules allow buildings up to 400 feet high. Kakaʻako's proposed transit-oriented development plan would permit some towers to reach 700 feet, twice as high as the city’s building height limit.[2]

Developers can skip the Hawaii Land Use Commission and Honolulu City Council. HCDA staff reviews proposals and its governor-appointed board has approval authority. In 2005, opposition group "Save Our Kakaʻako Coalition" protested Alexander & Baldwin's plans to build waterfront residential towers known as Kakaʻako Makai, leading the Legislature to effectively kill the project.[2]

On 8 March 2014, the coalition rallied to protest against the proposed plans to develop residential homes alongside Kakaʻako's waterfront. The coalition feared that access to the waterfront would be limited and warranted only to residents of the new development, ultimately depriving the Hawaiian people access to this resource and thus violating both Hawaiian law and custom. Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) trustee Peter Apo assured the public that OHA has no intentions of developing high-rises alongside Kakaʻako Makai. Apo added that if OHA did indeed conduct development in that area, it would betray the values and the people they serve. Lela Hubbard, member of Save Our Kakaʻako, claimed that OHA is only in it for the money.[4]

In recent years, Kakaʻako has faced much controversy over growing concerns of gentrification and having previous affordable housing being bought out and no longer able to be used for low-income families.[5]

Our Kakaʻako[edit]

SALT at Our Kaka‘ako, a shopping, food, and event venue in downtown Honolulu, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi.

"Our Kakaʻako" is a residential and commercial project led by Kamehameha Schools and Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaiʻi Inc. that aims to improve Hawaiʻi's urban-island lifestyle. The $60 million project will add 183 homes to Kakaʻako, with 88 rental units to be developed by Kamehameha Schools and Castle & Cooke developing the remaining 95 units for buyers.[6] The project will redevelop existing properties in Kakaʻako for residential and commercial space, as well as integrate mid-block pedestrian crossways, networked walking paths, complete streetscapes, green spaces, and unique retail experiences. Our Kakaʻako is estimated to take 15–20 years to complete.[6][7]


SALT at Our Kaka‘ako Venue, Honolulu

"Salt" is one of the new developments of Kamehameha Schools' master plan, designed for locals and visitors to enjoy a cosmopolitan environment accompanied with green and open-air spaces. It will serve as a marketplace that includes a variety of local retailers and restaurateurs. In accordance to Kamehameha Schools' sustainability efforts, Our Kakaʻako plans to reuse existing warehouses and other structures to preserve the feel of Kakaʻako.[8] The development of Salt aims to cater to a larger and more creative demographic in the Kakaʻako area.[9]

Six Eighty[edit]

To continue their preservation efforts, Kamehameha Schools hired contractors to redevelop a previous office building and create "Six Eighty," an apartment structure named after its address at 680 Ala Moana Boulevard. Six Eighty is the first installment of Kamehameha Schools' nine-block master plan for Kakaʻako. It is an affordable housing complex that offers both studio and one-bedroom loft-style apartments. Each apartment comes with a 12-foot ceiling, half and full-size kitchens, a full-size bathroom, and compact lighting. Kamehameha Schools created Six Eighty to be a modern and contemporary rental complex consisting of 54 units reserved for median-income renters. The complex is home to small retail shops and eateries and an open-air venue on the roof.[10]

Ward Village[edit]

Ward Village is a 60-acre (24 ha), master-planned community in the Kaka'ako district of Honolulu. It is being developed by The Howard Hughes Corporation. Once completed, this beachfront development will feature fifteen mixed-use residential towers, retail stores, entertainment venues, pedestrian friendly streets and public open space.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wu, Nina (2007-08-03). "Kakaako rich with Hawaiian history". Honolulu Starbulletin. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  2. ^ a b c Hofschneider, Anita. "Kakaako Rising: Is This Community Development? - Honolulu Civil Beat". Civilbeat.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  3. ^ "Innovative Residential Community in Kakaako". Honolulu Magazine. 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  4. ^ Kirk Matthews, "Save Our Kakaako Coalition Rallies against Proposed Development,” KHON2, 8 March 2014, retrieved on 14 November 2014.
  5. ^ Menina, Justin (2021-12-07). "Placemaking and the Gentrification of Kakaʻako". Horizons. 6 (1).
  6. ^ a b Holden Lau, “Castle & Cooke, Kamehameha Schools Reveal $60 Million Kakaako Development Plan,” Kakaako.com, LLC., 28 February 2014, retrieved on 13 November 2014.
  7. ^ Master Plan Archived 2014-11-24 at the Wayback Machine,” Our Kakaʻako, Kamehameha Schools, 1 January 2014, retrieved on 14 November 2014.
  8. ^ Salt at Our Kakaʻako Archived 2014-11-24 at the Wayback Machine,” Our Kakaʻako, Kamehameha Schools, 1 January 2014, retrieved on 13 November 2014.
  9. ^ Lori Jones and Christian O’Connor, “Honolulu’s Urban Island Marketplace Archived 2014-11-13 at archive.today,” Salt, Kamehameha Schools, 1 January 2014, retrieved on 13 November 2014.
  10. ^ Six Eighty Archived 2014-11-24 at the Wayback Machine,” Our Kakaʻako, Kamehameha Schools, 1 January 2014, retrieved on 13 November 2014.

External links[edit]

21°17′46.73″N 157°51′19.76″W / 21.2963139°N 157.8554889°W / 21.2963139; -157.8554889