Land Use Fellowship
Honolulu, HI
Peer Exchange Panel

The City and County of Honolulu owns and operates the 22.4-acre Neal Blaisdell Center in the heart of urban Honolulu. The Blaisdell Center complex includes a multi-purpose arena, an exhibition hall, a concert hall, meeting rooms, and structured parking. It is a major gathering place for performances and community events. Most facilities on the site were built in 1964 and are facing increasing maintenance and renovation needs. Meanwhile, the exhibition and meeting spaces must compete with newer, more accessible facilities, and the arena struggles for bookings.

The Blaisdell Center complex is situated in the Kaka-ako Community Development District – a redevelopment area governed by the State of Hawaii – and several blocks from a future rail transit station. This area is experiencing tremendous change and development, with thousands of new multifamily housing units being planned or constructed.

Adjacent neighborhood assets include historic Thomas Square Park, the Honolulu Museum of Art (and the Art School), McKinley High School, and Straub Hospital. Although currently isolated destinations, there is potential for the Blaisdell redevelopment to pull them together and catalyze a cohesive district. This broader approach could also improve connections to the Hawaii Capital District and Ala Moana Beach Park.

The city will soon be selecting a consultant team to help craft a vision for a cultural and entertainment venue at the Blaisdell Center site that has self-sustaining revenue generation. This planning effort will determine the community’s goals, recommend a program of uses and conceptual design, and seek out potential development partners. To complement this effort, we are seeking assistance from the Rose Center in crafting a strategy and plan for the arts and culture district – including working with neighboring property owners and neighborhood institutions – providing insights from other successful districts and financially sustainable projects, and recommending public-private partnership options for site redevelopment. Implementation of this long-term portfolio will require significant investment by the city and its partners, but the outcome will be an iconic symbol of the city of Honolulu.

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