Arts and Culture

Gems of Kaka’ako & SALT

SALT at Kaka’ako

SALT is a key ingredient in Kaka’ako, where people “Live, Work, Play,” where people come to visit locally owned restaurants and shops, and gather at the open spaces for community events in the newly gentrified urban core of Honolulu. Located between Downtown and Ala Moana, SALT is one dynamic city block, along Keawe, Auahi, Coral Streets & Ala Moana Boulevard. From the very thoughtful urban Architecture by WCIT, to each individual store and residential building’s design, SALT is an epicenter for newcomers and Locals, living and working here in this SMART urban planned community.

The name, SALT, refers to the salt ponds (“Pa’akai” in ‘Ōlelo Hawaiian) which once covered the low-lying marsh areas here in this section of Kakaako. Over a hundred years ago, Kaka‘ako was fishing villages, fishponds and salt ponds. To Native Hawaiians, pa‘akai “salt” was valued like gold and the Kaka‘ako’s salt ponds were of major importance to the area. Today, the new epi-complex of SALT is “the new gold” in Kaka’ako.


Residential construction began during the 1800s, when immigrant camps grew with the industrial growth of Honolulu Iron Works machine shop. Small stores, churches, parks, and schools like Pohukaina School were built next to Mother Waldron Park. Kaka‘ako grew, becoming a community built on a blue-collar work ethic, social activity, and family. Being close to the Harbors and downtown, the zoning for Kaka‘ako changed from residential to commercial during the mid-1900s. This was huge! Small businesses and entrepreneurial interests in wholesaling, warehousing and other industrial businesses displaced residents leading to the urban Kaka‘ako we’re familiar with. Built on the hard-working spirit of their ancestors, businesses, restaurants, and shops of SALT at Kaka‘ako continue to honor the past while looking forward to our future.


Today, local architects, designers, artists, chefs, and entrepreneurs fill the 85,000 square-feet of this curated retail, restaurant and mixed-use space. SALT is a gathering place that blends what is new, urban, chic and historic of Honolulu. The smart, open design of SALT is inspired by Kaka‘ako’s history and re-imagined for Honolulu’s future. The adaptive re-use of existing structures, open-air concepts, and modern design gives SALT a clean, fresh, pedestrian-friendly feel.

Hawaiian and Asian cultures, which are at the heart of today’s culture in Hawaii, both respect and reference their ancestors. They believe that where we come from, influences where we will go and who we become. Families generations before, have stories which blend with families today and shape the community here. As new redevelopment emerges and evolves, Kaka’ako is redefined and yet referred to as beholding, “All that is good about Hawaii,” by landowner and benefactor of SALT, The Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate.

Compared to rest of Kakaako, which increases in price per square foot as one gets closer to Ala Moana Center and the ocean, the newly built residential buildings that surround SALT are very well-priced for its comparable value and a great place to live for  Yuppies, First-time Home Buyers & Urban Professionals! These are the amazing new buildings walking distance to SALT: The Collection, One Waterfront Towers, 400 Keawe, Keahou Lane and 801 South Street.

POW WOW Hawai‘i

The true GEMS of Kaka’ako & SALT, color, beautify, bring life and a vibrant sense of place to this urban community,  through POW WOW Hawai‘i

POW WOW is a gathering of artists, people, and cultures from all over the world, who come together to create mural art on warehouses and plain building walls in urban cities. What started off as a few local artist friends who traveled other cities to collaborate, paint, hang out & share with other artists & experience their different cultures, has become a worldwide revolution! Their inspiring collaboration of paintings has beautified, enhanced and transformed neighborhoods, communities & cities around the world! POW WOW has grown to almost olympic influence and ambassadorship.

POW WOW’s mission is to bring together people through art and music, to bridge a community of different people, cultures, religions politics, and walks of life.

POW WOW art is bold, bright, modern, with historical roots, often thought-provoking, often times just fun. POW WOW art covered walls often evoke messages of peace, harmony, humanity, empathy, wisdom, and love. It’s simple and yet powerful! When people who live in the community see the art, the colors and energy bring their urban environment to life. They are more drawn to walk the streets, to check out the walls, visit the stores & restaurants and connect with each other. Like the colors and textures of nature, which can make you feel alive, these elements affect us, whether we are conscious of it or not. POW WOW brightens and revives the energy of an industrial or urban neighborhood, which are hues of grey, brown and flat concrete without life. Responses are off the charts in every city, between younger, working class and older generations.

POW WOW, to me, is pure Aloha

Founded in 2011 in Hawaii by Jasper Wong and Kahmea Hadar, with roots in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul Korea and Israel, these are also cities POW WOW has traveled to and reside. Each mural artist chosen to be part of a Pow Wow city has a deep sense of their roots and the world today. Like a traveler who has fallen in love with Hawai‘i, viewers and artists are changed by the murals beauty and life energy (Mana) here. PR-Magnet Christa Wittmier joined Jasper and Kamea and growth was ignited like music can to a great party! POW WOW has travelled to cities all over the world and comes home every year to Kaka’ako, bigger and better. Hawai‘i is a special place. The meaning of “Aloha” is to give and share love with a guest, who experiences the history and essence of who you & your family are, from your heart.  Like the local family (Ohana) of the founders, who helped support the launch of POW WOW, these founders and their growing tribe of artists, take their dreams, talents & ancestors with them as Ambassadors of Aloha, out to other cities of the world.  At home, all this success and energy comes back with even more inspiration (Le’a) to the local community and community of artists and entrepreneurs. It brings collective evolution and progress (Imua) to Hawaii and the world. The art here in Kaka’ako just seems to be more amazing every season, just like Honolulu is. We are the birthplace of POW WOW, its ancestry, it’s heart, its inspiration, it’s essence, it’s Aloha.

SALT, POW WOW, and the people that live and edify this community are the gems which make Kaka’ako an amazing place to live.

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Girard Perone

January 2, 2023


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