Engel & Völkers Honolulu’s Barbie Hee On What Makes Kaka’ako Real Estate Special

Engel & Völkers Honolulu

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When searching for the ideal luxury property on Oahu, you need the help of a talented high-end real estate company. At Engel & Völkers Honolulu, clients will receive professional guidance and a wealth of resources to track down the perfect property. From beachfront homes to quiet lots away from the outside world, their skilled team of real estate associates has an array of exclusive listings for you and your family to review. With more than 40 years of experience, the global company has the expertise to help both homebuyers and sellers. They utilize the latest technology in the industry to narrow home searches for clients. Haute Residence caught up with Engel & Völkers Honolulu’s Barbie Hee as she discussed Kaka’ako and what makes this area so unique in terms of luxury real estate:

Where is Kaka’ako and what makes this area so unique in terms of luxury real estate both in Hawaii as well as globally?

Kakaʻako is a very lively urban center in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi on the island of Oʻahu. It sits on the southern shoreline between the areas of Ala Moana and Waikīkī to its east and Downtown Honolulu to its west. Kakaʻako touches the ocean at the Kakaʻako Waterfront Park, Kewalo Harbor, and Ala Moana Beach Park. To the north are the valley communities of Nuʻuanu, Pauoa, and Makiki. Its bordered by downtown Honolulu, Oahu’s main economic and financial hub and Waikiki, Oahu’s major tourist attraction, it’s really the ideal location for a residential community. Kakaako is unique in Hawaii because the median single-family home prices (according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors) is $945,000, but due to the land being very scare in this area, it actually drives up home prices significantly. The condo median prices are around $654,000 which is up about 5% from last year. Past appreciation has been at least 5% annually, in the area. Although the prices are high a significant amount of local residents are seen to be moving into the area.


What makes Kaka’ako such a great place to invest real estate dollars in?

Kakaako is transforming from a warehouse filled commercial hub to a residential metropolis— and the results are just amazing! Kakaako’s market is driven by 4 major factors: Population growth, High demand, Possible Stability of rental income and Popularity as a vacation and living destination. ,– Although Hawaii may be seen as an aging nation, much like the rest of the Western world, the latest projections on DBET research 2019, paint a bright picture of the future. As a result, the Aloha state will experience a significant increase in the need for housing units. Investing in Hawaiian real estate now could mean a stable, if not potential higher rental income in the future. The supply of housing units in Hawaii is becoming extremely limited. Moreover, almost all the land is already occupied, while the demand, for decades, has been an ever-increasing one. In Oahu, for instance, both condos and single-family homes are being sold in a matter of days. This could mean a very fast turnover for those looking to sell their properties for a profit. Of course, for some real estate investors, this could prove to be a market that is simply too competitive. Although real estate in Hawaii is costly and is about three times higher than in the rest of the US, the value of such properties has been steadily increasing by 5% on average since 1985. Appreciation is around 4.8% and it is projected that it won’t decline any time soon. For a real estate investor, this may mean that rental income may be more stable than in most other areas. During 2017 alone, Hawaii received over 9.2 million visitors, which is a huge number when you consider its size. Since the Aloha State is known for being on the expensive side, most of the tourists that arrive are those looking for high-end, bespoke service and accommodations. However, there are a significant amount of individuals whose wishes are to move to Hawaii and make it their home. Of course, this all translates into more numerous opportunities to profit for real estate investors.

“The complete redevelopment of Kakaako would come close to tripling the population to at least 30,000 residents by 2030 from about 12,000 now, said Anthony J.H. Ching, the executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. “

What are some of your favorite restaurants and hotels and shopping in Kaka’ako?

Innovative Concepts Church-

Innovative Concepts was planted out of Grace Bible Church Pearlside in January 2003. Pastor Daven and Barbie Hee, along with a team of 40 college students and young adults, started meeting on Sunday afternoons in a school auditorium. Along with the network of Grace Bible churches in Hawaii, Innovative Concepts soon joined parent-organization, Every Nation Ministries, which helps operate many churches throughout the world. SUNDAY MORNING: 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM Dave and Buster’s Restaurant, Ward Entertainment Center

(808) 944-4669,1030 Auahi Street, Honolulu, HI 96814, http://www.ichawaii.com/

Island Club and Spa-

Island Club and Spa is Honolulu’s luxury fitness and rejuvenation destination. A place where our members and guests feel welcome, pampered, cared for and can call their home away from home.

(808)543-3900, 1177 Queen Street, Honolulu, HI 96814 https://islandclubandspa.com/

 Big City Diner-

Blue Zones Project® has named Big City Diner in Kailua as the very first Blue Zones Project ApprovedTM successfully completing the certification process which includes adding healthier menu options. Big City Diner is a locally owned and operated restaurant founded by Lane Muraoka, a local boy from Kailua who attended `Iolani School and opened his first restaurant in 1998. Big City Diner in Kailua achieved Blue Zones Project Approved status by completing the Blue Zones Project Restaurant Pledge and adopting or supporting a selection of best practices from a menu of 35 options.

(808) 591-8891,1060 Auahi St #4 Honolulu, HI, https://bigcitydinerhawaii.com/

 Tangö Contemporary Cafe-

Our world casual cuisine is inspired by Scandinavian and American classics, featuring fresh, natural, and house-made ingredients.

Göran V. Streng is the chef and co-owner of the Hale Aina and Ilima award-winning Tangö Contemporary Café in Honolulu, Hawaii. Chef Streng utilizes Hawaii’s fresh bounty to create a discriminating style that suits today’s gourmet guests. Pacific Rim cuisine inspired by Scandinavian and American classics is characteristic of Chef Streng’s palate-pleasing culinary creations. His multiethnic epicurean education coupled with a firm background in classic cuisine blossoms in full color and flavor in his food.

808.593.7288,1288 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite 120, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814, https://www.tangocafehawaii.com/

Nalu Health Bar & Café-

Acai bowls abound here in Hawai‘i but not many places do it better than Nalu Health Bar & Café. This second location in Kaka‘ako opened in 2017 in South Shore Market, an attractive shopping mall with a variety of local shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Nalu’s health-conscious menu has sandwiches, wraps, and salads, but really, it’s the acai bowls that draw crowds: organic, sweet acai berries chock full of good-for-you nutrients and antioxidants, topped with all the good stuff like bananas, bee pollen, strawberries, blueberries, granola, and honey. They’re perfect any day, any place, but here in Hawai‘i where the days are often warm, hot and sunny, Nalu’s acai bowls are sure to cool you down.

(808) 597-8871, 1170 Auahi St., Ste. 145, Honolulu, HI, 96814, naluhealthbar.com

$$; Acai Bowls, Juice Bars & Smoothies, Breakfast & Brunch; Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Highway Inn Kakaako-

If traditional Hawaiian food is on your mind, Highway Inn Kaka‘ako has it all on their menu. From lau lau, pipikaula, chicken long rice, poke bowls and much, much more, the restaurant does authentic local food right. The menu hasn’t changed much since 1947, which is when the first restaurant opened in Waipahu. There are also crave-able appetizers that’ll please everyone at your table, like the Hawaiian Style Nachos, made with fresh house-made sweet potato chips and kalua pig, topped with shredded cheddar and jack cheese, house-made salsa, sour cream and guacamole, or the signature Chicken Drumettes, battered chicken wings tossed in a house-made sauce like furikake Korean garlic, spicy Cajun or lilikoi BBQ.

(808) 954-4955, 680 Ala Moana Blvd. Ste 105, Honolulu, HI, 96813, myhighwayinn.com

$$; Hawaiian, Poke; Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

 Scratch Kitchen & Meatery-

Perfect for a weekend brunch with friends and family, Scratch Kitchen & Meatery takes your traditional breakfast items and elevates them with a unique flair. The simple and rustic menu changes seasonally, but some of the most popular items are the Milk n’ Cereal pancakes with bananas, berries, cereal and a secret homemade ‘milk’ syrup, and the Southern Fried Chicken N’ Waffle, with smoked maple and Carolina slaw. Lunch starts from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the BC Burger with the six-ounce Kunoa beef patty, fried egg, smoked bacon, spiced tater tots, won bok kimchee, spicy aioli and dressed greens is a great way to satisfy your appetite. With free self-parking in South Shore Market, live music and a breezy open atmosphere, this cozy restaurant is definitely a must-try in the neighborhood.

(808) 589-1669, 1170 Auahi Street, Honolulu, HI, 96814, scratch-hawaii.com 

$$; Comfort Food, Bakeries, Breakfast; Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m., Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

 Piggy Smalls-

Sister to the popular Pig and the Lady restaurant located in downtown Honolulu, Piggy Smalls does things a little differently, but still ties everything together through a Vietnamese-American fusion cuisine that Chef Andrew Le and co. does so well. You’ll find familiar dishes like the LFC (Laotian Fried Chicken) Wings and fun twists on pho like the J. Ludovico Chicken Pho, with spiced local heritage chicken broth with fresh rice noodles, calamansi, scallions, cilantro, and pickled chili ginger. Another star on the menu is the Pho-Strami Banh Mi, with smoked beef brisket (smoked all day), pickled mustard seeds, sriracha-lime onion, and a self-described “awesome sauce,” all topped on a fresh baguette with a side of the pho broth and a farm salad. The menu is playful and doesn’t take itself seriously, making the restaurant a perfect place to swing by after a movie or a fun date out on the town.

(808) 777-3589, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd. Ste. 665, Honolulu, HI, 96814, thepigandthelady.com

$$; Vietnamese, Bars, Breakfast & Brunch; Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9:30 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9:30 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Moku Kitchen-

Owned by award-winning chef Peter Merriman, Moku Kitchen is located at SALT at Our Kaka‘ako – a hip gathering place for events, shopping, and food. At Moku’s, you can expect locally sourced ingredients served in palette-friendly dishes like Wild-Mushroom Pizza with truffle oil, garlic, and thyme, “Smashed” Burgers with thin, crunchy patties, tacos bursting with a variety of flavors (think bulgogi tacos with kimchee) and plenty of beer and wines on tap. The highlights of the menu, while hard to pick out, could be any of the dishes roasted in the kitchen’s rotisserie oven, like the Grilled Filet Mignon, Ginger Glazed Roasted Duck or even the simple Rotisserie Veggie Plate. And, save room for dessert: choose from any of Merriman’s signature cream pies.

(808) 591-6658, 660 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96813, mokukitchen.com

$$; Pizza, Cocktail Bars, American (New), Daily, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

 Ginza Sushi-

As a sushi chef, perfection is paramount and time can truly fly when he’s focused. For his customers at Ginza, located at Ward Centre, Russell remains committed to creating the best meal possible. He knows that every slice of fish must be masterfully cut and tenderly molded around mounds of rice. It’s this type of attention to detail, along with the warming hospitality that accompanies every meal served, that has earned Ginza leagues of devoted fans.

(808) 593-9797, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814

1108 Auahi St, Honolulu, HI 96814

What is your projection of real estate 5 years down the road from now in Kaka’ako?

Our Kaka‘ako is and was a vision. It creates a space and a dynamic setting for new ideas and forward thinking. Our Kaka‘ako will continue to evolve over time as redevelopment continues to renew the community through like-minded developers and intuitive investors. Walkable, sustainable, people-friendly neighborhoods along with Open-air gathering places to socialize and share ideas will be paramount. Homes for a diversity of Oahu residents and families of various income levels will always be of value. In which will all entail being rooted in the authentic and progressive spirit found in Our Kaka‘ako today. I believe that Kakaako will continue to evolve into a community that elevates the value of Creating a Legacy, Building Memories and Living Life to its Fullest! It will truly be a place where people Live, Work and Play. It will again become a modern-day “Fishing Village”.


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