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Why Kaka’ako is the Next Big Thing in Honolulu Real Estate”


The Evolution of Kaka’ako: A Journey Through its Real Estate History

In the heart of Honolulu, between the bustling Downtown district and the high-end shopping of Ala Moana, lies the neighborhood of Kaka’ako. This vibrant and evolving community boasts a unique blend of urban charm and island spirit. However, the glittering condominiums and trendy boutiques of today’s Kaka’ako are a far cry from its humble beginnings. Let’s take a stroll through history to understand the transformation of Kaka’ako’s real estate landscape.

Early Days of Kaka’ako


In the early 19th century, Kaka’ako was a salt marshland inhabited by native Hawaiians. They used this land for farming, fishing, and salt production. By the latter half of the century, Kaka’ako had evolved into a residential community, though it was often seen as an undesirable location due to frequent flooding and its close proximity to the city’s garbage dump and slaughterhouse.

Industrialization and Rezoning

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the face of Kaka’ako started to change significantly. Industries started to take root in the region, prompted by the economic growth from the sugar boom and Honolulu’s growing prominence as a Pacific trading hub. The Hawaiian government began rezoning Kaka’ako from a residential to an industrial area. Consequently, families started moving out, and warehouses, factories, and auto repair shops took their place.

State Intervention and the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA)

In 1976, the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) was created to plan and oversee the development of specific regions, with Kaka’ako being one of its primary areas of focus. The goal was to transform Kaka’ako from a rundown industrial district into a vibrant, mixed-use urban center. In the 1980s, the HCDA laid out its vision for Kaka’ako, focusing on community growth, economic development, and affordable housing.

Kaka’ako’s Transformation

Since the 1990s, Kaka’ako has undergone a massive transformation. The HCDA’s plans came into fruition as the district evolved into a mixed-use neighborhood with residential, commercial, and industrial properties. This transformation was not without controversy, as debates over affordable housing and the loss of industrial and small business spaces took center stage.

In the early 2000s, Kaka’ako saw a rise in luxury condominium developments. These high-rise buildings, coupled with the development of the Ala Moana Shopping Center and the opening of Ward Village, a master-planned community, gave Kaka’ako an upscale makeover.

Today, Kaka’ako is a thriving urban district, known for its luxury condos offering stunning ocean views, its trendy boutiques, and its hip, artistic vibe, thanks to projects like the Pow! Wow! Hawaii street art festival. However, the neighborhood still retains its unique charm and local spirit.

The Future of Kaka’ako


Kaka’ako’s evolution is not yet complete. Plans for the future include more high-rise developments, an expansion of green spaces, and the creation of pedestrian-friendly streets to enhance the community’s live-work-play philosophy. While balancing growth with the needs of the community will continue to be a challenge, Kaka’ako’s transformation serves as an intriguing model of urban redevelopment in Hawaii.

In conclusion, the history of Kaka’ako is a testament to the dramatic changes a neighborhood can undergo, shaped by economic, social, and political forces. From marshland to residential community, from industrial district to urban center, Kaka’ako’s journey is a fascinating chapter in the story of Honolulu’s growth. As Kaka’ako continues to evolve, its history serves as a reminder of its rich past and a guide for its promising future.

Celester Thomas

Company Blog – Soldier to Soldier Hawaii Realty


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