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A Vision for the Future Part 2

by Kalei'āina Lee

Now that we have established an anchor for Kakaʻako Makai, we will begin to explore the other properties and what could be.


If we continue with the ocean theme and what Rell Sun and Eddie Aikau mean to Hawaiʻi, we come to lot B, the next lot along the waterfront in Kewalo Basin. This lot is a shipping yard with a ramp dry dock. This dry dock is crucial for bringing vessels out of the water without the need for a crane to lift the vessel from the water.


The University of Hawaiʻi is interested in relocating the Marine Education Training Center (METC) from Sand Island to Kakaʻako. Having this facility closer to town, and in close proximity to the medical school, is an attractive proposition for the University. How does this fit into this vision of Kakaʻako Makai? METC is the home of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the voyaging waʻa Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia. As we continue to add on to the vision shared in Part 1, we would now have “Rell’s Place,” the “Eddie Aikau Surf Museum,” and the new home for Hōkūleʻa, Hikianalia, and possibly Hawaiʻiloa – and all the educational classroom work that comes with them and the new voyaging curriculum that U.H. offers.


We now move on to lot F/G, the “piano” lot.


Here is where support from the legislature would be key. Envisioned for this lot would be a boutique hotel without seeking a variance for height increases. Boutique hotels are a growing sector in the hospitality industry and attract a different type of visitor than major hotel chains or large resorts. Typical visitors to these types of accommodations are visitors traveling for business; travelers that are interested in more intimate, personal, or community-based stays; or eco-tourists. These types of visitors typically do not rent vehicles, rather they prefer either ride-shares, public transportation, or public biking options. This addresses community concerns about increased traffic from any possible hotel. With a location in Kakaʻako Makai, this property is well-positioned – a stone’s throw from downtown – while not being in the heart of Waikīkī, which is where the average tourist would choose to stay versus a boutique hotel geared toward business travelers.


This covers three of the seven lots mentioned last month. These four projects alone provide the opportunity for not only revenue for the Native Hawaiian Trust, but also provides for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to put into place the concepts provided through all the public engagements: a Hawaiian sense of place, open communal spaces, a cultural gathering place, to name just a few.


Imagine our people gathering at the Eddie Aikau Surf Museum to greet with ‘oli, mele, and ceremony visiting waʻa from across the Pacific, then sharing meaʻai at a reception catered by Rell’s Place that goes into the night followed by the crews adjourning to their rooms at the boutique hotel right across the street. This is a process that could be repeated with any and all dignitaries visiting our state, allowing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to be the key venue to showcase our Hawaiian culture to these visitors.


Next article we finish up Kakaʻako Makai and take a look at a broader vision for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

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