The Neighborhood That Is Continually Reinventing Itself
Second in a series
Modern Waikiki has continued to evolve over approximately a century with a series of massive changes to both its natural environment and infrastructure. The Diamond Head end of this “city within a city” experienced a transformation at the turn of the century with the development of Kapiolani Park, the Honolulu Zoo, Aquarium, and beachfront recreational areas.
In the 1920s the dredging of the Ala Wai Canal and draining of the interior wetlands created acres of new buildable land. Extending from Kapahulu Avenue to the Ala Moana Boulevard bridge where it empties into the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, the Canal defines the western boundary of Waikiki.
With advancements in airline transportation came the expansion of Hawaii’s hotel industry and the reputation of the Hawaiian Islands as the “Paradise of the Pacific.” On Oahu, the earliest hotel development was on Kalakaua Avenue; the interior areas remained primarily residential.
Candace Nippolt, a member of a Navy family originally stationed at Pearl Harbor, lived on Royal Hawaiian Avenue during the years she attended Punahou. She later served as editor of the Waikiki Beach Press and This Week Magazines.
“After my father, Admiral Howard Corey, retired from military service in 1959 we moved into a small house on Royal Hawaiian Avenue,” Nippolt said. “Back then it was really a local neighborhood, mostly single family homes with lovely gardens, some lowrise apartments and hotels. The major hotels were on the beach. It was a great place to grow up with a selection of beaches and surf spots within walking distance.
“When I returned from college on the Mainland in the sixties, major changes were taking place, with the older homes and buildings being purchased by developers who consolidated properties and began building vertically. Waikiki was becoming more visitor oriented…new hotels were opening and old ones were being torn down to make way for larger, more modern structures. I believe the Hawaiian music renaissance of the 70s had a lot to do with bringing local people back to Waikiki. This was also the period when Japanese visitors were a major component of the tourist mix, and eventually they became the best customers for Waikiki’s new upscale shops. Kalakaua Avenue was becoming Honolulu’s ‘Fifth Avenue.’ One of the biggest beneficiaries of our successful visitor industry was and still is real estate.”
From the 1960s to the 70s, the best options for both local and out-of-state buyers in the market for mid to highrise condominium residences close to the amenities of Waikiki were the pricey coops and condos along the lower portion of Kalakaua Avenue…the Gold Coast.
Highrise condominium development accelerated in central Waikiki and along the Ala Wai Canal in the 1970s and 80s, but was brought to a pause in the mid 1990s during a major amendment to the Waikiki Special District to implement the 1992 Waikiki Master Plan.
The Waikiki Landmark at the top of Kalakaua Avenue became the first new highrise condominium to be developed in West Waikiki after an approximately ten year hiatus.
Completed in 2002, it was followed by The Lanikea in 2005, The Watermark in 2008, and Trump Tower in 2009.
The newest addition to West Waikiki’s highrise condominiums is The Allure, a 35-story structure located on a 2.3-acre site at 1837 Kalakaua Avenue. Its 291 one, two, and three bedroom luxury units are priced from the high $600,000s to $1.3 million. Designed by Architects Hawaii and constructed by Charles Pankow Builders, the building is flanked by a small park with native Hawaiian plants, ponds, and a fountain. Recently, the developer enhanced common areas including the lobby and pool deck. New model units are being shown by exclusive broker Prudential Locations, which maintains an onsite sales office.