KoAloha Ukulele Moving to Kakaako

Image KoAloha UkuleleKoAloha Ukulele announced today that it is relocating its factory and showroom from Kalihi to Kakaako next year. The new location will be a 4,000-square-foot space in the Iolani Building on Kona Street.

The new facility will offer many of the same things that the Kalihi location did, including the factory, showroom, and performance area to showcase artists and community partners. But there will also be a new area for both visitors and locals to purchase unique made-in-Hawaii merchandise created by KoAloha Ukulele artisans, and items featured by up-and-coming local vendors. Plans for the future may also include classes on ukulele instruction.

“With the on-going popularity of ukulele around the world, we find that many are wanting to learn more about this little instrument,” says Alan Okami. “And along with learning more about ukulele, comes interest with learning about Hawai`i, its culture, and people.”

“In a small way, all of us at KoAloha feel as if we are helping to share the good word of what Hawai`i is all about via our humble wooden ukulele instruments,” adds Paul Okami. “Being closer to the hub of Honolulu and the new developments surrounding the Kaka`ako neighborhood is great because now we will be within walking distance for many visitors who stay in the Waikiki area, as well as closer to a lot of local businesses.”

Paul and Alan are the sons of KoAloha’s founders, Patricia and Alvin “Pops” Okami.

‘Live, Work, Play’ Vision for Kakaako

An extensive feature on Kakaako was published in the September 2014 issue of Hawaii Business magazine, “Kakaako: Remade for the 21st Century.” Powell Berger writes:

The Collection In so many ways, the live/work/play promise of Kakaako seems to better match the emerging 21st century way of life than the rest of Oahu. The area’s redevelopment is still in its early stages and likely to span another two decades, so it’s not clear if it will deliver on its promises. But even though Kakaako is not for everyone, the robust sales of both workforce and luxury condos indicate that urban planners and developers were right: Build it and they will come.

Kakaako Park Gets Facelift

Mother Waldron Park to reopen with facelift in Kakaako

Mother Waldron Park - KITVMother Waldron Park will reopen Monday after more than $500,000 went into the greening of the Kakaako park. The facelift is thanks to developer Stanford Carr, who built the affordable rental project next to the park. Hale Hauwila Place came in under budget, so the extra money went to redo the playground and upgrade the bathrooms.


HCDA Holds Open House


The HCDA held an open house Saturday to encourage community input.

Charts, maps and photos covered the walls of its meeting room, but there is a real space just outside the doors of the building, and residents are concerned about what the future holds for the neighborhood.

“On a piece of paper, it looks just fine, that by 2030, we’re going to have 30,000 people in Kakaako,” said area resident Eva Gallegos. “But people need to realize that this is a postage stamp-sized piece of land. Where are they going to bring in 30,000 people (to) live here?”

Future plans for Kakaako development discussed

Open Knowledge Explored in Film, Workshop

Aaron SwartzTonight at 6:30 p.m. at Kakaako Agora, a screening of ‘The Internet’s Own Boy.’ Then on Saturday, there will be a discussion of the film and a workshop on open knowledge.

“We will brainstorm action plans and prototype tactics to liberate more open government data,” notes the event’s organizers, “Bring your creativity and appetite.”

If you RSVP for the Saturday event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., lunch will be provided.

The event is presented by Hawaii Open Data, Interisland Terminal, Startup Weekend Honolulu, Common Cause Hawaii, and Code for America.

‘The Internet’s Own Boy‘ follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.

Extraordinary Machine

Kakaako Fitness to Open on Waimanu Street


Pacific Business News reports that Definition Personal Fitness is moving to a new space at 815 Waimanu Street and will change its name to Kakaako Fitness. The gym is owned by Michele Tokuda.

“It would appeal to people who need the one-on-one attention, that personalized training,” Tokuda told PBN. “We’re not a membership gym.”

Michele Tokuda received her degree in Exercise Physiology in 1991 at Oregon State University and started off as a group exercise instructor as well as a fitness manager for a corporation. She opened Definition Personal Training in 2008, which has evolved into a training studio and a group fitness room for additional classes (Zumba, Yoga, Belly Dancing, TRX, Boot Camp, and Jiu-Jitsu).

815 Waimanu Street

Kakaako Agora is Honolulu’s first indoor public park

Photo by Burt Lum/Bytemarks on Instagram

Kamehameha Schools and Interisland Terminal celebrated the opening of Kakaako Agora on Sunday , Honolulu’s first urban, indoor public park. The unique 3,225-square foot space located at 441 Cooke Street was designed by noted Tokyo-based architectural firm Atelier Bow-Wow.

“Kakaako Agora is a perfect fit for Our Kakaako,” noted Christian O’Connor, Senior Asset Manager for Kamehameha Schools. “It will inspire artistic collaborations and continue to foster the kind of innovation and creativity that the community is known for.”

Once an empty warehouse, Kakaako Agora is now a free, publicly accessible, shaded community gathering spot that includes a 687-square feet mezzanine. The space was built over the course of two months by several local organizations including Collab Studios, Sunworks Construction, Heavy Metal Hawaii, Hui Kū Maoli Ola.

From June 9 – 28, Kakaako Agora will house June Kaboom, nightly performances, speakers and film screenings hosted by Kumu Kahua Theatre, Hawaii Opera Theatre, POW! WOW! Hawai‘i, ii Gallery, ‘Ōiwi TV, Taiko Center of the Pacific and others. The space is available for the public to use from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday.

Atelier Bow-Wow was founded in 1992 by architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima. The firm has designed and built houses, public and commercial buildings as well as innovative public spaces around the globe. The duo, who are married, are best known for their surprising, idiosyncratic, yet functional residential projects in dense urban environments. They coined the term “pet architecture” to describe the odd but functional little buildings wedged into tiny sites around Tokyo.

For more information about Kakaako Agora, visit ourkakaako.com/kakaakoagora.

Photos by Burt Lum/Bytemarks on Instagram.

Kakaako Agora opens with June events

junekaboomKakaako Agora, a unique public gathering space in being designed by Tokyo-based architectural firm Atelier Bow-Wow, opens this month with a month of free public arts programs.

Kakaako Agora is located in a warehouse on Cooke Street, and its build-out was launched on Kickstarter. Atelier Bow-Wow has previously architected innovative spaces in Mumbai, Montreal, Berlin and New York.

Designed to be the first multi-purpose, free public space in the Kakaako area,  Kakaako Agora will celebrate its debut throughout the month of June. Presenting groups include:

  • Hawaii Opera Theater
  • Honolulu Printmakers
  • Kumu Kahua Theater
  • ii Gallery
  • ‘Ōiwi TV
  • American Institute of Architects Student group Hawaii
  • Pow-Wow Hawaii
  • Taiko Hawaii

Events begin June 8, and the full month program can be downloaded here.

Sen. Ige questions governor’s appointee to HCDA

David IgeHawaii Sen. David Ige, gubernatorial candidate and chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said he would oppose the permanent appointment of Brian Tamamototo to the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA).

Ige said questions if Tamamoto qualifies to fill a seat designated for a representative from a small business, defined as “a business which is independently owned and which is not dominant in its field of operations” as stated in the law.

Tamamoto is executive vice-president of Royal Holdings, LLC, a small holding company of the Kobayashi Group, and has been serving on the HCDA on an interim basis after being approved by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The HCDA is charged with approving development in the Kakaako area, and among the Kobayashi Groupʻs projects there are the 40-story Royal Capitol Plaza — the first residential property ever approved by the HCDA — and the 248-unit luxury high-rise Hokua, fronting Ala Moana Blvd.

“This is not about an individual or company,” said Sen. Ige (D, Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea). “It is the principle as this position is designated for a small-business representative and I question if a holding company of the Kobayashi Group fits the definition. Citizens are concerned already about the make-up of the HCDA and the pace at which it is approving projects.

The Senateʻs confirmation vote is scheduled for Tuesday, April 29.

It comes as a bill passed by the state Legislature, HB 1866, which makes changes to the HCDA appointment process, sits on the governorʻs desk awaiting action. Sen. Ige said even if the bill is signed into law Thursday, Tamamoto would serve through March 2015, allowing the opportunity to vote on development matters impacting Kaka`ako. Ige has received calls from many residents of Kaka`ako concerned with issues that could be brought before the HCDA board for approval over the next few months leading up to March 2015.

“Whether it be the owner of an auto-repair shop or an entrepreneur who just opened a small restaurant, these small Kakaako business owners should have a voice in development of the area,” Sen. Ige said.

About the Law:

Section 206E-3(b) states: “Of the three members (county members) 2 members shall represent small businesses… and shall be designated as the small business representatives on the board whose purpose, among other things, is to vote on matters before the board that affect small businesses. The small business representatives shall be owners or active managers of a small business with its principal place of operation located within the physical boundaries of each designated district.”

From Ryan Tsuji, Hawaii State Senate.

Crossroads of Honolulu