Kapolei is located on the “leeward” side (West Oahu) at the foot of the Waianae Mountain Range on the Ewa Plain. In the late 1800s, Industrialist James Campbell purchased approximately 41,000 acres of the Ewa Plain including the area known today as the city of Kapolei. After drilling water wells to irrigate this barren leeward land, Campbell built a plantation for sugar-cane production. For many years to follow, this gently sloping and open area had been cultivated with sugar cane.
Early drafts of the Ewa Master Plan prepared in 1955 and later in 1974 for the Estate of James Campbell envisioned a major new urban community on the Ewa Plain. These plans would eventually evolve as the Oahu General Plan in 1977 was adopted to designate the city of Kapolei as a “Second Urban Center” (Oahu’s second city) to meet the needs of the expanding island population that could no longer be accommodated in the Honolulu area alone. In the 1980’s, the Ewa Master Plan would continued to be revised and eventually become the landowners’ Kapolei Area Long Range Master Plan.
Today, Kapolei is one of the fastest growing areas in the state of Hawaii. This master-planned community is designed to be an alternate urban center where residents could live, work, and play. To achieve this, Kapolei has become the site of many new homes, business, medical, and government services complexes, as well as the state’s largest industrial park.
As Kapolei expands and grows, many of the “big box” stores including Costco, Big Kmart and Home Depot have operations along the main corridor of the city on Kamokila Blvd.; while Target, Ross, PetCo, OfficeMax and T.J. Maxx (opened in 2015) can be found at the Kapolei Commons open-air retail shopping center. Many local retail shops and services are conveniently located at the Kapolei Shopping Center anchored by Safeway and Longs Drug store as well as the nearby Foodland shopping center.
Kapolei continues to develop and offer new exciting entertainment with the April 2016 grand-opening of Hawaii’s first all luxury movie theater, Regal Kapolei Commons 12, which offers an exclusive customized food and drink menu while guests watch their favorite movie in reclining seats with a tray table. Then, there are also the good old favorites, including Consolidated Theaters Kapolei 16 and Wet’N’Wild Hawaii waterpark. Wet’n’Wild is Oahu’s top ten most visited family attraction on the island and recently voted by Honolulu Magazine in its Best of Honolulu 2016 –“Best Family Attraction” – featuring more than 25 exhilarating waterslides and attractions.
Kapolei residents enjoy an array of outdoor fun and fitness too. Within a short “drive” of eight golf courses, players of all levels can enjoy a round or golf lessons at Kapolei Golf Course and Ko Olina Golf Club. Ko Olina Golf Club is host to the LOTTE Championship, one of the most beautiful stops on the Women’s LPGA professional golf tour held during the month of April. Ko Olina Golf Club was recently voted by Honolulu Magazine in its Best of Honolulu 2016 — “Best Golf Course”.
The Kapolei Regional Park spans 74-acres and provides a diversity of recreational activities, including: walking, jogging, and playing volleyball, soccer, football and baseball. Further down the road, The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center (Kroc Center), a new 200,000 square foot complex located on 15-acres is the largest community center of it’s kind in the state of Hawaii complete with an aquatic center and many, many activities and events. It was designed and built as a place to gather, connect, discover and nurture the soul. It is dedicated to capture the imagination of young children, teenagers and adults, alike – for all generations living in West Oahu.
The future of Kapolei is both bright and exciting with the development of West Oahu’s new regional mall, Ka Makana Ali’i (meaning “The Royal Gift”), new area community of Ho’opili and the starting point of the new Honolulu rail system.
Ka Makana Ali’i is the first regional shopping center to be built on Oahu in over 30 years. Ka Makana Ali’i, located on 67-acres, will include 1.4 million square feet of retail including more than 150 exciting shops, dining, entertainment complexes, two hotels and LEED-certified office space. Phase I scheduled to open in fall 2016 will include anchor tenant Macy’s and a host of other vendors, including: H&M, PetSmart, Applebee’s, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, California Pizza Kitchen and Hampton Inn & Suites, to name a few. Planned as the premier gathering place for the region, Ka Makana Ali’i will meet the shopping and dining demands of West Oahu with thousands of new homes projected to be constructed through 2025. The new mall’s convenient location will offer excellent highway access, ample parking and public transportation for shoppers.
Already under way, Ho’opili is a 1,554-acre mixed-use, sustainable community to be developed in East Kapolei. In hopes to preserve some of this lands “roots” and strive for future sustainability, this community will include commercial farming on 200-acres at various locations throughout the area on Civic Farm lots; 8-acres of community gardens in the higher density transit areas; and the opportunity for homeowners to have eatable landscaping installed with the purchase of their new homes. Ho’opili will have five brand new schools: three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. Then, when it’s time for undergraduate study, the University of Hawaii – West Oahu is right there to offer programs ranging from humanities to education, applied sciences to professional studies, and more.
Nearly 80% of Ho’opili will be connected to transit, whether by two planned Honolulu rail stops (Station #2 and #3), high level and expanded bus service, or new network of bike paths.
Kapolei is on the move with three of the planned 21 Honolulu rail stations to be located in this city starting with the East Kapolei Station #1 located in close proximity to the Kroc Center. Estimated travel times are planned to whisk local residents from the area all the way to Honolulu International Airport (HNL) in approximately 26 minutes, downtown Honolulu in approximately 38 minutes and all the way to the last rail station at Ala Moana Mall Station #21 in approximately 42 minutes.
That’s for the future – while for today, the best-kept secret in Kapolei is the nearby Kalaeloa Airport, which services inter-island flights to Molokai on Mokulele Airlines without the hassle of driving into Honolulu and having to pay for parking at HNL.
Kapolei residents are not only diverse in their ancestry, culture and heritage, but also, as to their occupation, language and religion. The Kapolei campuses of University of Hawaii – West Oahu and Hawaii Tokai International College draw both local and international students to the leeward side. Nearby military bases and facilities also increase the demand for housing in Kapolei and the city’s surrounding neighborhoods. Good quality public schools, above-average safety from crime and a high percentage of home ownership makes this West Oahu suburban neighborhood desirable for families, students and investors.
In comparison to Oahu as a whole, where the overall median price of a single-family residence (SFR) has climbed to $720,000 for June 2016, Kapolei tends to be a more affordable area of the island where the median price has increased to $648,000 from $592,000 one year ago. (Chart I and II) Within Kapolei, it is noted that the median price for SFRs vary by local neighborhood where Kapolei Knolls is noted on the higher side of the range at $725,000 to $750,000. Other median prices in the surrounding Kapolei neighborhoods, such as Aeloa, Iwalani, Kapolei Kai, Malanai and Mehana are found to be more affordable at or below the current overall Oahu SFR median price. (Chart III)
During the same one-year comparison as of June 2016, price per sq. ft. for Kapolei SFRs has increased to $421 from $386 in 2016 and 2015, respectively. (Chart II) Moreover, despite the construction of new houses in Kapolei, tight inventory in the area has favorably reduced days on market to 14 days from 16 days from one year ago. (Chart II) As demand for SFRs in Kapolei continues to be strong, Kapolei home price increases have driven-up home appreciation to 25.85% over the past five years, in line with the overall Oahu 5-year home price gains of approximately 26%. (Chart IV)
In summary, Kapolei (Oahu’s second city) continues as an area of high growth, strong demand, positive community and new beginnings for the future of the island.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy joins the Choice Group at Locations LLC after many years of holding her real estate broker license in the state of California since 2006. Her current focus in real estate stems from her long career and prior experience in providing high quality service as a certified public accountant.
Real property (single family, multi-family, commercial and industrial) has always been a valuable and significant asset in the portfolios for Nancy’s high net worth clients when she worked at Ernst & Young LLP in Honolulu and Southern California. Whether business, investment or personal, Nancy found the planning opportunities (for income, estate or gift tax) and the financial transactions to be interesting and unique because of her client’s real estate assets.
But even well before that… Nancy’s exposure and interest in real estate started at a very young age as a result of her father’s career as an architect.