More Art Galleries in Chinatown

Ed Korybski
Ed Korybski
Sandra Pohl
Sandra Pohl
Rich Richardson
Rich Richardson

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Chinatown, a hub of culture and art, is gaining popularity as a place to catch local artists.

More space might mean more art galleries will be popping up.

A recent study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Honolulu Culture and Arts District found that second and third floor units in Honolulu's historic Chinatown are being underutilized.

Many of the buildings in Chinatown have been around for decades. The first floors are ideal for businesses but the 2nd and 3rd floors are often empty.

"Most of the time they're being used for storage or commercial use," said Ed Korybski of Honolulu Culture and Arts District.

Some buildings are not adequate for residential use because they are too small, lack proper utilities like updated plumbing systems, and emergency exits.

"Most of it is due to tax policies and new ordinances that have been put in place," said Korybski.

Not great for living, but perfect for art galleries.

"Chinatown has made enormous strides over the past few years, in 2002 the Marks Arts Garage, on the arts gallery map there were 10 arts related businesses, now there are 37 arts related businesses," said Korybski.

Sandra Pohl has been showcasing art at her gallery for 6 years. She sees Chinatown as an ideal place for other aspiring artists to get started.

"Because the rent would be lower, because you could just move right in and paint the walls and set up an art studio," said Sandra Pohl of Louis Pohl Gallery.

One of the buildings with a loft project already in the works is the Mendonca Building. Rich Richardson of the Arts at Marks Garage has his eyes set on this site.

I'm working on developing some artist's lofts in that building with the owners," said Rich Richardson.

The study has provided a road map on how to accomplish making Chinatown a better place for the community, one floor at a time.

Over the course of the research, a number of recommendations were made including having the city conduct workshops for property owners on how to convert upper-floor spaces into lofts.