Real Estate Stories

First Post: Holden Lau on Kakaako Today

holden_kakaako001Take Kakaako by foot and you might be surprised by the sheer number of hip coffee shops, artfully-curated boutiques, trendy restaurants and street art-style murals. Given its now-urban vibe, it’s hard to believe that in ancient times, the 670-acre waterfront district was comprised of fishing villages, fishponds and salt ponds.

Today, Kakaako is in line for a renaissance of sorts, with developers, entrepreneurs, artists, chefs and residents at the helm. Over the next decade and beyond, the area is poised to become not only urban and dynamic, but a highly coveted live-work-play neighborhood with tremendous investment opportunity.

The largest private landowners, including the Howard Hughes Corporation with 60 acres and Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate with 29 acres, largely share this vision with an exciting master plan of high-rise condominiums and rental units, trendy shops, innovative businesses and a budding enclave of arts and culture.

Here are a few of Kakaako’s upcoming showstoppers:

690 Pohukaina

The state’s signature 690 Pohukaina Street development will include three towers, including the state’s soon-to-be tallest building at 650 feet tall–211 feet taller than Hawaii’s current tallest building, the 30-story First Hawaiian Center. Forest City has been chosen to develop the $500 million mixed-use project, which will include more than 800 workforce rental units.

Howard Hughes Towers

The Howard Hughes Corporation recently received approval for two mixed-use luxury towers offering a vibrant urban lifestyle in the heart of Kakaako. The development will include 4,000 residential units and over one million square feet of retail and commercial space. The towers are currently projected for completion in 2016 with sales starting this fall.

Keauhou Lane

keauhou02Keauhou Lane, a dynamic residential project being driven by Kamehameha Schools and Stanford Carr Development, will bring new rental apartments, lofts, townhomes, a high-rise tower, live-work spaces, retail shops and a grocery store to Kakaako. The project is scheduled to break ground at 555 South Street, the popular parking lot home of Eat The Street, in mid to late 2014.

With so much in the pipeline for the up and coming neighborhood, buyers are scrambling to get their piece of the new Kakaako. For more on all of Kakaako’s upcoming projects or for pricing information, visit my real estate blog at

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  • Sean Freas
    September 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Awesome post! Keep up the good work!

  • Tim
    September 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    By building these high rise residential (I’m assuming, unless they’re mixed use) in Kaka’ako, an area that has a decent amount of traffic in all directions, you’re essentially making the area denser with population. I’ve noticed that the average household in Hawaii owns more than two cars, which means that there will be an increase in automobile transportation. Public transit in Honolulu is nowhere near other urban cities, and while I’m in support of a better integrated alternative transportation system, such as bicycles and walking, few would actually implement such. More people means more traffic, and since the roads can’t be widened, what do you believe Kaka’ako, and other communities in Hawaii, should do to prevent this?

    • Holden Lau
      September 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Hi Tim,

      You ask a great question. Making Kakaako denser will decrease urban sprawl on O‘ahu, so instead of people driving into town, people will have the opportunity to walk, bike, take the bus, and perhaps one day ride rail to work. I agree with you that our public transit isn’t close to where it needs to be. That said, I think we as a state are taking the necessary steps to get there. Adopting these other forms of transportation will not be easy for our residents (people love to drive!), but living in a walkable city–something we have not yet experienced here on O‘ahu–will hopefully change all of that.


  • Grace
    September 18, 2013 at 6:08 am

    My question to the developers of Kakaako is this…. Did we do the homework required to support the influx of additional population in Kakaako? Do we have the sewage lines, public schools, road ways, emergency facilities, environmental impacts, support facilities such as super markets to support the increased population? I think the City and County and State needs to turn in their homework before they start building. I am worried we are progressing too fast. Kakaako doesn’t have to be the next Tokyo or Singapore. We should cherish and protect Honolulu.

    • Holden Lau
      September 19, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Hi Grace,

      Thanks for your comment. I too share your concern over these issues.
      The Kakaako master plan has been in the works for a number of years, though only in the past couple have we seen a real surge in terms of development. I think the necessary infrastructure will have to be addressed in order for Kakaako to be a fully functional neighborhood, building schools, grocery stores, renovating our sewers, etc.

      The Hawaii Community Development Authority or HCDA is the state agency governing the current and future development of Kakaako. “HCDA serves as an infrastructure developer, landowner, city planner, regulator, and property manager to expeditiously implement Kaka’ako’s master plan. To foster a well-balanced and successful living and working environment in Kakaako, the HCDA is trying to ensure that its community planning efforts are responsive to the many interests involved.”
      -The HCDA website

      We are working on getting an interview with someone from the HCDA, to hopefully address these issues. Mahalo again for your comment.

  • Brandon Suyeoka
    October 11, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    It’s too bad you didn’t go pro with your soccer career Holden, you had the talent. Anyway, check out the Culver City, CA. How cool would it be if the entire Kakaako area had access to free WiFi for it’s visitors. I hope they consider this in their master plan. I’ll drop a message to David S. as well. Cool.

    • Holden Lau
      October 14, 2013 at 4:06 am

      Thanks Brandon, you’re pretty good at soccer yourself! I just play to stay in shape and have a little fun. I think that having wifi accessible to all in Kakaako would be amazing. That would definitely be an interesting post on HuffPost Hawaii, I would love to see how people would feel about that. What do you think?

      • Brandon Suyeoka
        July 23, 2014 at 7:55 pm

        Late reply but since this last conversation….looks like someone was listening with turning Kakaako into a WiFi hot spot. We should’ve patented it damn it.

  • John Garcia
    October 12, 2013 at 2:46 am

    @Brandon — this is such an awesome idea. Wonder what it would take to get HITel or Oceanic to sponsor something like this?

    I’ve had talks with orgs before about sponsoring some kind of Wifi hotspot project, but they’ve all fallen through. Maybe time to bring this up again!?