What is Kakaako?
Kakaako is a commercial and industrial area located in the heart of urban Honolulu. Situated directly between Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, it is the ideal place for a masterplan community.
An area once known for it’s rich agricultural lands and fish ponds, to a mostly industrial hub for local businesses, Kakaako’s transition has been many years in the making. Fast forward to 2023, walking the streets of Kakaako you can see cranes across the Honolulu skyline, as we the Kakaako of the future take shape. Residential high-rises will bring many residents to our new Kakaako. Grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and boutiques, will keep them here for many years to come.
Who own’s Kakaako?
Howard Hughes and Kamehameha Schools (KS) are the two major private landowners in Kakaako. Each of them has their own vision of what Kakaako should be and they’ve illustrated this in their respective masterplans. Together these two entities own close to 40% of all the land in the area. The other landowners are mostly individual landowners that own small pieces. In order for a developer to build on a parcel of land, the land needs to have certain size requirements, in this case a developer would have to acquire multiple continous parcels of land to build a new project. This process is very costly and acquiring multiple continous parcels can take years and sometimes decades.
Kamehameha Schools, Our Kakaako
Kamehameha Schools has envisioned Our Kakaako as a gathering place for residents, families, and locals alike. Offering a mix of residential towers, featuring market rate units to affordable rate rentals, Our Kakaako has something to offer everyone. At the heart of Our Kakaako is SALT an 85,000 square-feet shopping center curated with retail, restaurants, artisans, and local businesses.
One of my favorite places to visit at SALT is Arvo, an Australian-inspired coffee shop that features different yummy plates and delicious lattes. One of my favorite things at ARVO is their amazing smoked salmon with cream cheese toast covered in onions and capers. Arvo is located in the middle of SALT, just look for all the cute umbrellas (you can't miss it).
The development of residential towers in Our Kakaako will happen over two phases. The first phase started back in 2016 where we saw The Collection (2016), Keauhou Place (2017), 400 Keawe (2016), and several affordable rental projects built. The second phase of development was just announced in 2022 and we saw several projects announced. Alia (2026), Kahuina Kakaako (2027), and Kaliu (2027). Alia is a luxury condo project and the only project that has started sales.
Howard Hughes, Ward Village
Howard Hughes took a very different approach from KS when planning Ward Village. With all their experience in developing masterplanned communities in Texas, California, and New York City, walkability was the primary goal of their design. The one unique advantage that Howard Hughes has over KS is that Howard Hughes acts as both the land owner and developer.
KS owns the land in Our Kakaako but they sell the land to developers after conceptualizing the individual projects. Howard Hughes has not only planned the entire community from the start, they will design each building as it’s part of a whole so that the entire community flows with a beautiful, yet cohesive design.
What you have at the end of the day is a very walkable community, with wide sidewalks, shaded walkways, manicured landscaping, and a mix of commercial tenants sure to meet your every need.
The other great thing about Ward Village is that it was planned with no existing high-rise buildings in the area. This means that they are able to plan where the buildings will be built, so that the towers in the back row will have the best views possible. With other projects in Kakaako, the developer has only so much room to build a tower. If you have a building directly in front of you, you have to deal with it, in Ward Ward Village they can play around with the design to maximize views for everyone.
Ward Village started construction back in 2013 with it's first completed tower Waiea (2015), since Waiea they've completed five residential towers, Anaha (2017), Ae'o (2018), Aalii (2021), Ke Kilohana (2019), Koula (2022). They have three more towers currenrlty under construction Victoria Place (2024), The Park Ward Village (2025) and Ulana (2025). Kalae (2026) was their most recently annoucned tower that will start construction in 2023.
The above map represent all of the existing projects in Kakaako where some 10,000+ residents currently live. These residents utilize all the great amenities Kakaako currently offers like, the great parks, proximity to Ala Moana Beach and shopping center, restaurants, shops and more. There is no doubt many of these residents are looking forward to what Our Kakaako and Ward Village will bring to the neighborhood.