The 600-acre Kakaako District is bounded by Piikoi, King, Punchbowl Streets and Ala Moana Boulevard. The District also includes the waterfront area from Kewalo Basin to Forrest Avenue. Courtesy Photo

Community Cultural Marketplace heads transition of Kakaako Makai into a place of learning

HONOLULU—After years of community planning and reinvestment, the first changes of many are arriving in Kakaako.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority along with Kakaako’s surrounding community have spent years developing a master plan for the area, designed to create a new and vibrant cultural center in the heart of the district. Part of their plan incorporates a weekly outdoor marketplace with a special focus on community.

To see a map of the Kakaako Makai land designation, click here

The area within the mauka side of Ala Moana Boulevard, part of the Kakaako Community Design District, is studded with some of Hawaii’s highest high-rise residential buildings—some approaching 400 feet.

In 2002, the Hawaii Community Development Authority adopted the “Waterfront Business Plan” covering use and development for the area between Kewalo Basin and the University of Hawaii’s medical school in Kakaako. Public pressure and successful legislation led to the preservation of the area for a large space open park, learning centers, and other opportunities for public use.

To see past legislation pertaining to the area, click here

In 2009, the Hawaii Community Development Authority, retained MVE Pacific and its team of development and planning specialists to lead the community-based master planning process for Kakaako Makai. Building upon the three years of work completed by the Kakaako Community Planning Advisory Council, the consulting team, over a 14-month period, analyzed physical site characteristics, reviewed the local economic influences, market demand and viability of commercial and other land uses, while engaging the public through stakeholder interviews, a series of hands-on workshops, open houses and focused meetings.

To see the Kakaao Makai Conceptual Master Plan, click here

In the plan, the Kakaako Makai area has been redesigned to emphasize local performers, history, culture, crafters, artisans, farmers, fish, and foods.

Spearheading the transition is the Kakaako Makai Community Cultural Marketplace, slated to open on Friday, June 10.

“All of our vendors know that we promote only locally grown foods, and locally produced items.”

“We intend to build a community cultural village at Kakaako Makai,” said community manager Juanita Kawamoto in a statement. “We want to provide a place where our ohana and kupuna can pull together and share what they know. We also want local non-profits, civic clubs, and educational organizations to come down and join us—possibly to fundraise, definitely to raise awareness for their causes.”

While cultural awareness is the primary focus of the community endeavor, the market will also host local farmers, fishermen, artisans, and chefs. 

Current vendors include PacifiKool-Island Ginger Drinks and Syrups, Aunty Nani’s Hawaiian Cookies, Hawaiian Food Chef, Aloha Wainani Fresh Fish, and Aikane Coffee Farm. Market management is still reviewing and accepting vendor applications.

“All of our vendors know that we promote only locally grown foods, and locally produced items,” Kawamoto said. “We want the Kakaako Makai Community Cultural Marketplace to support our local family farmers, our local artisans, and our local community. We are even donating a percentage of our market profits to the Next Step (‘homeless’) Shelter and the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center.”

The Kakaako Makai community managers also said sustainability is a big part of their vision. Non-biodegradable plastics, Styrofoam, and GMO produce are strictly forbidden.

“We have found affordable ways for our vendors to provide their services without contributing to our State’s environmental degradation,” Kawamoto said. “We would like to see all local vendors become more environmentally aware, and we hope that our marketplace can help reset the standard.”

Marketplace hours are on Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. beginning June 10. (The market will close early, at 1:00 p.m., on June 11 due to a Concert in the park.) For more information about market hours and festival events, visit the Kakaako Makai Community Cultural Marketplace website at

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