The low-rise industrial silhouettes of Kaka'ako's warehouses will make a comeback when Kamehameha Schools transforms a city block into a food and dining, shopping and community space called Salt at Our Kaka'ako.
Renovations will begin this month, and retailers will open incrementally as buildings are completed.
“Historically, this area of Kaka‘ako was a place of innovation, commerce and sustainability. We chose the name Salt at Our Kaka‘ako in reference to the natural salt ponds that once dotted the low-lying wetlands in this area,” said Paul Kay, director of real estate development at Kamehameha Schools. “We believe the new Salt at Our Kaka‘ako will preserve both the local spirit and working class grit of the area’s history, while creating a new, authentic urban-island culture.”
Kamehameha Schools will reuse four existing structures on the block bordered by Coral, Keawe, Auahi streets and Ala Moana Boulevard. The renovations will reveal the trademark, curved lines of the block’s Quonset roofs, which over the years have been covered up. In addition, 20,000 square feet of surface parking will be repurposed into a vibrant, open-air central plaza connected to entry points on all four sides of the block. Other warehouse structures will also be kept intact, and materials will include reclaimed wood and metal.
The sustainable construction strategy of adaptive reuse, though more costly than new construction, will preserve the area’s industrial character, maintain a familiarity of place and keep construction debris from local landfills.
Kamehameha Schools is seeking permission from the Hawaii Community Development Authority to increase the height of a new 267-stall parking structure by an additional 20 feet in order to shrink the building’s footprint and create larger open, common areas. The completed project, if approved, will have 353 parking stalls in the structure and on the surface -- 43 more than is required. It will also seamlessly integrate with multi-modal complete streets improvements designed to give priority to the pedestrian.
“Calling it a shopping center doesn’t adequately explain what Salt at Our Kaka‘ako will be,” said Kay. “Neighborhood residents will have local restaurants, unique shops, entertainment and art within easy walking distance of their homes, and the central plaza will be the place for residents and visitors of all ages to relax, play and come together. Salt at Our Kaka‘ako will be the outdoor hangout of our new, urban neighborhood.”
The tenant mix at Salt at Our Kaka‘ako is expected to be very similar to the current block, and will include dedicated space for artists’ studios, as well as flexible open space for events and other tenant programming. The project will also include dedicated space for “micro-tenants,” defined as small, emerging local businesses without brick and mortar shops. They will be able to set up for shorter durations and without the investment or commitment of a long-term lease. The concept was tested at the “A Pinch of Salt” pop-up shopping warehouse, held on the third Saturday of each month at the Honolulu Night Market, and is proving to be incredibly successful.
Kamehameha Schools expects to lease 35-50 tenant spaces.
Local architecture firm INK Architects, working with New York-based Pompei A.D., is designing the project. The selection of a contractor is happening now, and should be announced in mid-July. Kamehameha Schools will maintain ownership of the entire block, as well as the improvements. Revenue from Salt at Our Kaka‘ako, as with all of KS’ commercial properties, will help fund the schools’ educational mission.