Honolulu Artists Hope For Representation in Kakaako Development

Marilyn Cristofori
Marilyn Cristofori
William Feltz
William Feltz

KAKAAKO (KHNL) - It's back to square one for state planners trying to figure out what to do with Kakaako Waterfront property. The latest move is to form a citizens advisory committee to help guide a new vision for the area. The state invites all interested parties to be part of the group that will eventually decide the future of Kakaako.

Many Hawaii artists hope to see their passion represented there. Marilyn Cristofori, CEO of Hawai'i Arts Alliance, is a statewide private non-profit for the arts that represents 105 organizations and 300 individuals, with a combined statewide membership of over 35,000. "If there is going to be development in Kakaako makai, we'd like the Arts be a voice at the table."

Performing arts might find a larger home if a performing arts center goes up, appealing to both locals and tourists. Cristofori says, "It'd be wonderful to have visitors get a deeper experience of our multicultural society."

The art gallery at the East-West Center also supports the idea. "This kind of performing arts center could be an important place for people to gather in Hawaii," says arts program coordinator William Feltz.

Feltz says the arts are underrepresented in Hawaii. "Many of the groups that get together and struggle to learn and present the performing arts in Hawaii- they don't have a home. This could help provide rehearsal and learning space."

Developers, businesses, and boaters are also interested in the development plans. But many artists say it's important to include the arts. "There is no culture that's been discovered in which music, dance, and art are not a part. It's absolutely a necessity. It is not a frill," insists Feltz.

The state agency overseeing the development is Hawai'i Community Development Authority (HCDA) and it plans to have a second meeting next month. HCDA's first meeting was on April 10 at the Honolulu Design Center, and included those interested in participating in and planning the

framework for the Kaka'ako Makai Advisory Working Group (AWG).

The AWG will develop a vision and guiding principles for the development of the Kaka'ako Makai area. The meeting began with a description of HCDA's community outreach efforts leading up to the meeting. These efforts, undertaken by HCDA consultant Townscape, Inc. (Townscape), sought to maximize the participation of stakeholders. "The results announced at the meeting evidenced broad agreement on feasibility and common themes for the Kaka'ako waterfront. These should provide a conceptual basis for the AWG to reference in its work," says HCDA's Executive Director Dan Dinell.

Those participating in the outreach effort agreed the vision for the area should have a focus on the ocean; that is, enjoying the water and the waterfront. Participants also mentioned they would like improvements to the area to connect the various parts of the coastline and provide an active and lively space where people could come, as seen in vibrant waterfront areas in other cities.

The outreach initiative also indicated most stakeholders were not happy with the status quo and said the guiding principles for improvement should follow the goals most mentioned in their vision for the waterfront. With regard to the protocol for creating a formal vision and recommendations for HCDA to follow in improving the area, interviewed stakeholders said it was essential for the process to be open, inclusive, transparent, and led by the public.

The Townscape team described the anticipated role of the AWG, making it clear that this is an advisory, not a decision-making group, which, like an effective neighborhood board, can be a powerful voice but will not have the final say on decisions regarding the development of Kaka'ako Makai. After carefully considering the AWG recommendations, it would be up to the HCDA Board of Directors to ultimately decide what improvements will be made to the area.

It was recommended that the AWG membership be limited to organizations, although once it is formed, the AWG will set its own membership policies. Those present representing organizations were asked to sign their organizations up for the AWG, if they were interested. Suggestions were received for other organizations and disciplines that would be good candidates for membership.

The working group's organizational structure was discussed, including explanations of successful

frameworks, using the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization (OMPO) as a case study. CAC bylaws were handed out for reference.

Those attending discussed several concerns they had about representation and membership, especially whether membership on the AWG should exclude individuals. The team of moderators stressed that openness and the ability of the public and individuals with particular expertise or interest to participate in the process was paramount.

It was agreed that two committees-one to draft bylaws and another to select a facilitator to help enable the process to move forward quickly should be formed. At the conclusion of the meeting several participants volunteered for each committee and a date was set for them to meet.

The next meeting for the larger group of stakeholders and prospective AWG members will take place in the second week of May. The two committees will report their recommendations to the group at that time. HCDA Executive Director Daniel Dinell said, "It will be up to the members of the Advisory Working Group how they want to handle membership, organizational and other issues. HCDA will help the working group secure facilities and provide the resources necessary to conduct meetings in an environment that will support productive work. Our primary concern is that the process be open, transparent, and inclusive."

About the HCDA

The Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) was created by the 1976 State Legislature to bring about the timely planning, regulation and development of underutilized areas in the State. HCDA's mission is to ensure that the Kaka'ako and Kalaeloa Community Development Districts are invigorated and transformed into dynamic communities that will accommodate a mix of people with a wide spectrum of activities and commerce.

HCDA works to bring together private enterprise and government to foster redevelopment and to

establish Kaka'ako and Kalaeloa as economically and socially viable communities that can provide a range of public benefits. State-of-the-art infrastructure and public facilities are being developed by the HCDA to spur new housing opportunities, community facilities, and increase economic opportunities. For more information, please visit the HCDA website at www.hcdaweb.org.