Neighborhood Spotlight: Kalihi

Home to the Bishop Museum and a few gorgeous hikes, along with a blustering collection of traffic-heavy commercial centers, the mixed-use Kalihi neighborhood is a study in contrasts. Kalihi-Palama lies at the southwest edge of O‛ahu, tucked between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. 

Once an ahupua‛a in the traditional Hawaiian land use system, today the neighborhood is split down its middle by the Likelike Highway and is made up of six microneighborhoods: Kalihi Kai, Kalihi Area, Kalihi Kua, Kalihi Valley, Kalihi Upper, and Kalihi Lower. 

These schism are echoed in other contrasts: the neighborhood is at once old-school O‛ahu, resistant to the development that has changed the faces of neighborhoods like Kaka‛ako, and a thriving locus for innovative artists and businesses, who come for affordable rents and easy access to Downtown and stay for the community they find. 

Plate Lunch Every Day

If you like to eat and you enjoy food adventures, a working familiarity with the side streets and storefronts of Kalihi will serve you well. Often missing from glossy-mag restaurant reviews are some of the most flavorful and compelling meals to be had on O‛ahu (many of which come in Styrofoam). Here, a shortlist of plate lunch favorites, plus a little something for dessert:

Photo courtesy of Alicia’s Market

Ethel’s Grill

Everything about Ethel’s is a bit of a task: it’s cash-only, the seating is limited, it’s difficult to find, the parking is limited, the kitchen closes at 2pm, they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and the ambiance is more lunch counter than destination meal. None of that matters. The food—local style plate lunch, but elevated—is the only thing that matters. The best way to eat here is to bring friends and share: do the mochiko chicken and ahi tataki, plus the daily special (recent specials: super tender ahi kama (jaw), salmon with watercress and miso pesto). 

Helena’s Hawaiian Food 

As the foodie and fine dining scenes expand all over Honolulu, some things stay constant. Helena’s has been serving staples of local food to grateful diners since 1946 (approximately a millennium in restaurant years) and proudly bears a James Beard award. What may well be the best pipikaula on O‛ahu can be found inside the storefront, along with kalua pig, laulau, exceptionally delicious squid luau, and plenty more. Again, bring a group if you can—everything is served family style in small bowls, and the strong game is to taste a bit of as many dishes as possible. 

Alicia’s Market

Another beloved local institution, Alicia’s is nestled into a nondescript storefront on Mokauea Street. Family-run since the 1940s, the food here brings together the heart of home cooking and the expertise of a professional kitchen. They are best known for their huge array of poke varieties, but smoked meat is my pick—char siu ribs any day of the week, or, just on Fridays and Saturdays, lechon (suckling pig). 

Liliha Bakery 

The iconic bakery has called Kalihi home since 1950, and whether you are a “sweets person” or not, you haven’t really given yourself the Kalihi food tour until you’ve had a Liliha coco puff: choux pastry filled with chocolate pudding and topped with chantilly mac-nut frosting. Small enough to eat even if you aren’t exactly starving, these treats hit the pastry trifecta of sweet, creamy, and doughy. The other move (less classic and more filling but never disappointing) is the poi donut, brilliant purple underneath its deep-fried outside, redolent of sugar and taro.

Photo: Poi donuts at Liliha Bakery

What’s Ahead?

With median listing prices well below the island-wide average and occasional gems coming on the market—particularly back in Kalihi Valley, which feels tucked away from the bustle of the Dillingham-adjacent areas—Kalihi is proving attractive to new residents. The strong sense of local community is palpable. If you become a repeat visitor at any of the beloved plate lunch spots, you’ll see many of the same faces, day in, day out, some on their way to work at the State Capitol, others on their way to work at the docks, eating side by side. 


Header image of the Kalihi Valley, courtesy of maaachuuun. 


Autumn in Honolulu: Events to Consider

In Hawai‘i, the leaves don’t turn orange and the temperature barely drops to herald the start of Fall, but here on Oahu, we mark the arrival of shoulder season with some of the best social and cultural events of the year, which serve as prelude to the season many residents and visitors wait all year for: Big Wave Season! By November, the North Shore is abuzz with all things surf as pros from around the world descend on the island for legendary winter swells and competitions. Here, a few of my top picks for this year’s fall festivities:

Scream Like It’s 1999: 20th Anniversary

Photos courtesy of the Honolulu Museum of Art

Doris Duke Theatre at the HoMA

Sunday October 27 and Thursday October 31

$12 general admission, $10 for HoMA members

Just in time for Halloween season, the Honolulu Museum of Art presents “Scream Like It’s 1999,” a celebration of the high art of horror cinema. The screenings mark twenty years since the release dates of Takashi Miike’s Audition, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s The Blair Witch Project, and promise hefty doses of both nostalgia and creep factor. 

North Shore Surf Comp Season

Photo courtesy of Brian Bielmann and

Due to the mercurial nature of ocean swells, surf competitions are planned inside of time windows rather than on specific dates, with events being “called” last minute. This is certainly stressful for the athletes, but exciting for the spectators: Will the Eddie go this year? Who knows, but it’s exciting to wait and wonder. Event window dates for the major competitions in the North Shore big wave season are as follows—and be ready fight traffic north on the Kam when the epic swells roll in.

  • Sunset Beach HIC Pro: October 28-November 10, Sunset Beach
  • Hawaiian Pro Hale‘iwa: November 13-November 24, Ali‘I Beach Park
  • Vans World Cup of Surfing: November 25-December 7, Sunset Beach
  • Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8-December 20, Ehukai Beach Park
  • The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational: typically December 1-February 28, but dates vary from year to year. This contest only runs under highly specific conditions which include 30’-40’ waves, Waimea Bay.
  • Volcom Pipe Pro: January 29-February 10, Ehukai Beach Park

Taimane & Her Band at the Blue Note

Blue Note Hawaii

Sunday November 3, 7:30PM

Premium tickets $42

As Honolulu’s favorite songstress’s career picks up international steam, it is becoming rarer and rarer to catch her intense flamenco ukulele and vocal performances in settings as intimate as the cozy Blue Note stage. Just this year, she’s sold out five North American shows and walked the runway for AllSaints, so it’s fair to say, she’s having a well-deserved moment. This show will sell out quickly, so be sure to reserve your seats ahead of time. 

Honolulu Marathon: 26.2 Miles in Paradise

Kapi‘olani Park

Sunday December 9

Race entry $225; spectating free

Whether you’re an ambitious runner looking to smash a PR on one of the most scenic marathon courses in the world, a hobbyist with an epic walking costume, or a mimosas-in-the-park picnicker who prefers sleeping in and watching others exercise, there is something here for you. As one of the largest international marathons, with over 20,000 runners and a field of elites which typically includes Olympians and world record holders, this race is considered top-tier in the sport of distance running. It also holds the distinction of being the only major marathon with no cutoff time, a rule which has blossomed into a robust tradition of costumed running and walking. Keep your eyes peeled hours after the elites break the finish line tape and you will spot tubas, full Darth Vader suits, geta sandals, and much more.

Header image by Tom Pennington, courtesy of Honolulu Marathon

220 East 73rd Street, 12H


This beautiful, south-facing one bedroom plus home office is flooded with light on a prime Upper East Side block. This pre-war gem is one of the largest one bedroom layouts in the coop with an oversized bedroom, a renovated eat-in kitchen, home office, dining area, wood-burning fireplace and multiple large closets with an abundance of storage. 12H is a truly charming residence, which exemplifies Upper East Side pre-war living at its finest.

As you enter the apartment, the gracious entry hall leads into a spacious windowed eat-in kitchen. The renovated kitchen provides an abundance of cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, as well as a Miele washer/dryer. As you continue into the sun-flooded living room, a charming wood burning fireplace creates a comfortable and inviting atmosphere which also features a spacious dining area ideal for entertaining. Off of the living room, is a home office complete with double doors and built ins. The bedroom boasts large south and east facing windows, which welcome sunlight all day. The windowed modern en-suite bathroom features glass vanity and shower door and updated fixtures.

The Eastgate building, designed by Emory Roth, is a full-service co-op located on a beautiful tree-lined block between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. The classic pre-war brick facade features embellished iron double front doors. Originally constructed in 1932, this 13-story co-op features a full-time doorman, resident manager and porters, gym, storage and a common courtyard. Blocks away from outstanding New York restaurants and shops. The 6 and the new 72nd Street Q train stop are just minutes away providing easy access around the city. Pets are welcome.

For more information about this home, call me at 917.854.5069.

There are currently 16,905 listings on the market in Manhattan with a total dollar volume of over $56B. The median price is $1,580,000 and the median price per square foot is $1,500.

Approximately 9% of listings are priced below $500K
26% of listings are between $500K – $1M
38% of listings are between $1M – $3M
12% of listings are between $3M – $5M
9% of listings are between $5M – $10M
6% of listings are $10M and above

Listing sizes with median prices
Approximately 11% of listings are studios with a median price of $589K
32% are 1 bedrooms with a median price of $899K
29% are 2 bedrooms with a median price of $1.9M
16% are 3 bedrooms with a median price of $3.75M
12% are 4+ bedrooms with a median price of $7.95M

Category of available listings
Approximately 49% of current listings are condos
43% of current listings are co-ops
4% of current listings are condo-ops
2% of current listings are multi-family properties
2% of current listings are townhouses

With interest rates still low (but rising) now’s a smart time for buyers to take action in the NYC market.

West Village listings are at the highest ppsf downtown at $2,242 while Chinatown is asking the least at $1,277.


NoMad remains in the top spot for highest ppsf in the area while Murray Hill remains in last place.


The Upper West Side remains in the lead among Uptown asking prices while Inwood trails at $542 per square foot.


Northwest Brooklyn price per square foot ranges from a high of $1,409 in the Navy Yard to a low of $812 in Windsor Terrace.


Williamsburg price per square foot is currently at $1,203 while Greenpoint is at $1,022.


East Brooklyn prices range from a high of $655 in Bedford-Stuyvesant to a low of $342 in Brownsville.


South Brooklyn median price per square foot is led by Prospect Park South at $798 and trailed by Flatbush at $543.


Sunset Park leads for median ppsf in Southwest Brooklyn, with prices at $713. Coney Island has the lowest ppsf at $438.


Manhattan Beach is the Southeast Brooklyn ppsf leader at $701, while Canarsie offers the lowest ppsf at $377.


Long Island City continues showing tremendous signs of growth with current ppsf at $1,244 while Astoria has dropped slightly since our last market update from $816 to $787.


A Look at 311

Ask anyone what their favorite number is and why, and you’ll get as many different responses as people you ask. A favorite number for New Yorkers, at least in the phone-call-making department, is 311. Hundreds of millions of New Yorkers have called this number, and if you haven’t heard about it or called yet yourself, maybe you should.  

311 as an actual phone number to call began in October 1996, when the city of Baltimore, Maryland launched 311, the country’s first non-emergency governmental services call center. Intended to divert non-urgent community concerns from 911, which is reserved for emergencies, 311 is a central hub for residents to get answers to a variety of city services. Questions and concerns run the gamut, from landlords not heating their apartments properly to what streets are blocked off during a presidential visit.

The project was a huge success, and it took off across the country. 311 call centers now operate in almost all major US cities, several smaller US counties, and internationally in various forms and with varying phone numbers. A website for 311 in Akron, Ohio describes the service as follows: “Burning building? Call 911. Burning question? Call 311.”

The New York Debut
When the clock struck midnight on March 9, 2003, a customer in Jackson Heights called to report noise from a neighbor’s party, and NYC311 was officially in business. New York City now operates the largest 311 operation in North America, fielding calls from how to find a lost phone in a NYC taxi to the current date and time.

Why Call
The mission of NYC311 is to provide the public with quick, easy access to all NYC government services and information. The reasons to call are many. From public safety concerns to personal concerns, as long as it’s not an emergency, you can call 311. People call regarding issues in their neighborhoods- anything from noise ordinances to stray dogs to unkempt parks – as much as for personal issues – things like how to obtain official documents or what social services are available to them or even how to track down their lost phone in a taxi. If there is something you need help with, or something you feel you should report, the number to call is 311.

The employee training at NYC311 ensures that customers “speak with a polite, professional, and knowledgeable New Yorker when they need assistance.” So when you call to report anything from a housing violation to the fact that you smell maple syrup while walking to your car everyday, rest assured that you will speak with someone who is kind, takes you seriously, and is going to help you the best they can.  And also keep in mind that by calling, you’re being civically responsible: by calling in to report a pothole or a stray animal or after-hours construction, you’re playing a role in solving the problems you see in your own neighborhood.

Significant dates for NYC311
December 20, 2005: more than 240,000 calls were made on the first day of a transit strike, setting the record for calls in one day.

In May 2010, in honor of NYC311’s 100 millionth call – someone reporting an abandoned vehicle – Mayor Bloomberg visited the office and fielded a call himself. He said the system, which costs $46 million a year to run, “has truly revolutionized how people deal with government.”

Also in 2010, NYC311 was featured in the New York Times, “Insights from a Week as a 311 Operator in New York”, as well as Wired Magazine’s “What 100 Million Calls to 311 Reveal About New York.”

October 29, 2012: Four times the daily call volume is handled without interruption as Hurricane Sandy hits New York.

December 12, 2014: NYC311 was featured on NPR’s “This American Life.” For the call center that receives 55,000 calls a day, not all calls are typical, and not all have answers at the ready. Sometimes, operators have to improvise. Listen to the full episode here.

October 2017: NYC311 logged their three hundred eleven millionth, three hundred eleven thousandth, three hundred eleventh call.

Who knows why the number 311 was chosen. Maybe it has some kind of innate cultural relevance. It was, after all, a generic number used at the beginning of many a phone number in television and movies. From Mister Ed dialing the phone using a pencil in his mouth, to the 1979 horror flick When a Stranger Calls, to the 1984 film Ghostbusters, to the first episode of the 1980’s TV show A.L.F., all featured 311 as the area code in phone numbers shown on screen.  Maybe Baltimore took its hint from that random fact and the number just stuck.

What is known, as data confirms, is that a favored number for New Yorkers is, indeed, 311. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, translated in 175 languages, available for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired, by hundreds of millions of New Yorkers since its inception in 2003, this number is called. All for good reason, and with no sign of letting up, 311 will continue to be called for many years to come.

Header Image Courtesy of 311’s Facebook Page.

The Latest on the Honolulu Rail Project

For more than four decades, local residents and politicians have hotly debated whether Hawai‛i’s most populated island needs a rail transit line. Honolulu’s traffic congestion consistently lands it a spot among the Top 10 U.S. Cities for highway gridlock. Most Honolulu residents have long considered it the price for living in paradise. But what to do about it?

The City and County of Honolulu is constructing a 20-mile raised rail transit line to connect East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center near Waikiki. The route will begin near the University of Hawai‛i – West O‛ahu campus, and will have twenty-one stations along the way to downtown Honolulu, with stops in communities such as Waipahu, Pearl City, Waimalu, Aiea, Halawa, and the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

This will be the first large-scale publicly-run metro system in the U.S. to feature both platform screen doors and driverless operation. But its construction hasn’t been without controversy.

Kapolei to Waipahu
Honolulu Rail Line extending from Kapolei into Waipahu. Photo courtesy of HART.

In November 2008, the rail issue was on the ballot and only a slim majority (53%) of voters approved it. At the time, it was projected to be a 34-mile raised rail line, with a price tag of $4 billion, that would ease traffic congestion for commuters into the downtown area. Government officials were later criticized for releasing the Environmental Impact Statement a mere 2 days before the vote, meaning that early voters never saw it and the majority of people went to the polls unaware that the statement had been completed. The findings of the EIS were that the rail project impacts would include land acquisition from private owners on the route, displacement of residents and businesses, aesthetic concerns related to the elevated guideway, and noise from passing trains.

Ten years later, the estimated cost is now $8.1 billion and climbing, while the planned length is down to 20 miles. Needless to say, the Honolulu Rail Project has lost some popular support over the past decade. But with almost half of the line constructed, it’s too late to turn back now. And by all projections, the line isn’t due for completion until the end of 2025.

Local taxes are financing the project, as well as a $1.55 billion grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). After major cost overruns, the temporary .5% increase in the general excise tax that was supposed to expire in 2022 has now been extended to 2030. And a new law this year placed a surcharge of 1% for the next 13 years on the statewide hotel room tax that is paid by tourists. There is no guarantee that there won’t be additional taxes levied in the future to get this project over the finish line.

The first phase of the project linking East Kapolei and Aloha Stadium is scheduled to open in late 2020. Construction of the final 4.3-mile section through downtown Honolulu, which is expected to be the most difficult to build, has not yet started.

Like most major infrastructure work in Hawaii, construction of the rail line is likely to uncover historic human remains in its downtown Honolulu section. The Oahu Island Burial Council (part of the State Historic Preservation Division) is the watchdog to protect the treatment of ancient native Hawaiian burials.


Nan Inc, the contractor set to relocate the utility lines along the 4.3 mile downtown stretch, estimates that it will take until 2022 to complete their work, which they describe as “some of the most disruptive work that’s going to happen on the project”. This utility line relocation will run the following path: through the final eight rail stations along the Dillingham Boulevard corridor, past the Kalihi, Kapalama, and Iwilei stations, onto Nimitz Highway to the Chinatown and Downtown stations, over to Halekauwila Street through the Civic Center and Ward Center stations, and finally along Kona Street to the station fronting Ala Moana. Residents in high-rise towers and businesses on the route have been notified of added noise and traffic while the work proceeds.

While cost overrides of the rail line construction have been in the news consistently, little has been discussed of what it would take to operate the line once completed. The Honolulu rail authority recently announced plans to use a “public-private partnership” approach to develop the last segment of the line as well as the planned Pearl Highlands Transit Center, together estimated at $1.4 billion to build. The plan is to solicit proposals from developers who will finance and build the new facilities as well as operate and maintain the entire rail system for 30 years. For more information on the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transit (HART) project, their website is at


Header image by Musashi1600 for Wikimedia.









Honolulu remains a strong market for sellers and a hot market for buyers. Homes are being snapped up in 30 days or less, the absorption rate is still hovering just under 3 months for both condos and single family homes, and with interest rates not likely to rise much in 2019, buying is even more attractive in the coming months. Let’s look at the most recent numbers for Honolulu:

December Honolulu numbers show a steady market for sellers of single family homes, with prices up 14%, while condo prices have decreased by almost 6% compared with this time last year.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Avg Sales Price

Median sale prices in Honolulu have gone up 5% for single family homes and down by almost 2% for condos since Dec 2017.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Median Sales Price

Even though the number of months of inventory is up 33% for single family homes in Honolulu and 26% for condos, the absorption rate is still in the highly competitive range of 3 months.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Months Of Inventory

Single family homes in Honolulu are spending a median of 30 days on the market while condos are spending a median of 25 days on the market, an increase of 50% and 39% since December 2017.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Median DOM

Compared with December of 2017, there were 8% more new single family homes put on the market and an increase of 17.5% in the number of new condos listed.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_New Listings

There are currently approximately 1,266 active single family homes and 1,910 condos on the market in Honolulu.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Active Listings

376 single family homes and 542 condos in Honolulu are pending sale.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Pending Sales

During December, 258 single family homes and 440 condos closed in Honolulu.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Closed Sales

In December single family homes received 98.6% of asking price while condos received 99.6% of asking price.

Honolulu_MSR_Dec2018_Original Price Received

The market is holding strong and steady in Honolulu, and current conditions continue to favor sellers. Please let me know if you would like to sell your Honolulu home or would like help finding your dream Honolulu home.

Winter Events in NYC

One of the wonderful things about New York is that we get to experience all four seasons in all their fullness. While each season has its (literal) highs and lows, there is one thing that every season in New York can proudly boast: there is always something to do. No matter the time of year, no matter how hot or cold or rainy or snowy, in the city that never sleeps, there is always an abundance of events, festivities, happenings, and to-do’s. It’s winter now, and the first day of spring isn’t until March 20. That means there’s still plenty of wintertime events to enjoy. Read on to find out how to make the most of the rest of your winter this year.

Plans for right now
Still feeling the holiday spirit? Not to worry, holiday-spillover events are still here for the taking.

Ice Skating
Now through the end of March
When it comes to whizzing around a rink, music playing, scarf flying, people laughing, just pick your spot, all the way through March. Would you like to be in Central Park? Enjoy the spectacular skyline view at Wollman Rink or the less crowded, skating-lessons-available option at Lasker Rink. In Manhattan, of course there’s the Rink at Rockefeller Center and the Rink at Bryant Park, but you can also choose alternate views of New York at the Rink at Brookfield Place with views of the Statue of Liberty or, alternately, the Riverbank State Park Ice Skating Rink in Upper Manhattan. If you’re in Brooklyn or Queens, head over to Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center Ice Rink, which offers open skate as well as lessons for toddlers to beginner adults. Enjoy rooftop skating at The City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City, or have more than just summertime fun in Coney Island at the Abe Stark Rink at the Coney Island Boardwalk.  

Train Shows
Now through February
Model trains are quintessential holiday delights, and mesmerizing for the aficionado and the casual passerby alike. Fascinating as they are, the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show offers something even more. A half-mile of track runs through miniature replicas of 150 New York landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Yankee Stadium, all designed entirely out of plant parts. While that exhibit runs through January 21st, you still have more time to catch the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal, which runs through February 24th. The Grand Central model train navigates through a miniature NYC, continuing on through the countryside, all the way to the North Pole.

Festivals, Shows, & Parades

Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival
January 19 – February 3
Support a worthy cause and get your hot chocolate fix this season at the Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival. You’ll get the chance to try new and exclusive hot chocolate recipes made by the pros at eleven of the city’s most celebrated bakeries. As a bonus, $.50 from every cup goes to the non-profit “Food Tank”, whose aim it is to alleviate hunger, obesity, poverty, and food waste. Don’t miss the KickOff party January 17 at Ladurée Soho, where you can taste some of the best and most inventive hot chocolate elixirs, as well as experience a world renowned Latte Artist.

Lunar New Year Parade and Festival
February 5 – 17
The Chinese New Year is February 5th this year, ringing in the Year of the Pig, the symbol of wealth and good fortune. New York will start festivities that day with the annual Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival from 11AM-3:30PM in Chinatown (Sarah D. Roosevelt Park at Grand Street). Celebrations continue for two weeks, culminating in the spectacular Chinese New Year Parade on February 17th, featuring dragon dancing, martial art performers, and much more. Get there by 1PM and bring your appetite – it’s said that the more dumplings you eat during the celebrations, the more wealth you’ll bring in during the year.

Westminster Dog Show
February 9-12
While the Year of the Dog may be coming to a close, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is just getting started. With around 3,000 dogs from around the world showing off their perfected wags and jumps, dog lovers worldwide can get a look at some of the rarest and most well-trained canines, either on screen or in person. The games begin on February 9th with the Meet the Breeds event and agility competition, and culminate on February 12th with the best-in-show judging at Madison Square Garden.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 16
Everyone’s a little Irish on St. Patty’s Day, and many New Yorkers are revelers in the parade and pub parties that ensue afterwards. This year’s parade will be on Saturday, March 16th (in religious observance of the 17th, which falls on a Sunday), starting on 44th Street at 11AM, marching up 5th Avenue, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and ending around 5PM at 71st Street. Be sure to get there early, be ready for bagpipers and marching bands, and for your own sake, be sure to wear green.

If you’re still looking for more to do, check out this great NYC events website which features widely-known and lesser-known events happening month by month all over the city.


Neighborhood Spotlight: Kaimukī

There’s no neighborhood more reminiscent of Honolulu in the 1950’s and 60’s than Kaimukī. It’s been a residential neighborhood since the early twentieth century, and today boasts plenty of single-family homes with a sprinkling of multi-family dwellings. Close to shopping and downtown Honolulu, the business center of Kaimukī retains its retro charm with old-style diners and boutique shops.

Kaimukī is situated on the mountainside of Diamond Head Crater between Kapahulu to the west and Kahala to the east. Pu‛u o Kaimukī Park, Kaimukī’s highest elevation point, sits on the rim of an extinct volcanic crater and offers great views of everything down-slope.

Most of the homes in Kaimukī were constructed before the 1940’s, with a number of those homes still owned by the same families, passed down through the generations. Little by little, older homes are being renovated or replaced with new construction as homebuyers discover the value of Kaimukī’s convenient location. Most Kaimukī homes have modest-sized lots between 3,000-6,000 square feet.

Even amid the growing sprawl of O‛ahu, Kaimukī has managed to maintain its quaint charm and small-town vibe. Kapiolani Community College is in Kaimukī, and every Saturday it hosts the largest farmers market in the state. Converging on this iconic outdoor marketplace, residents and tourists alike plan their weekends and travel itineraries around it to find the best in fresh local produce and unique homemade crafts.

History of Kaimukī

Many ancient Hawaiian legends tell of a race of tiny people who did good deeds and built great structures during special nights. They were similar to stories of the Irish leprechauns, and they were called “menehune”.

Kaimukī got its name from stories that the menehune had ovens in this part of O‛ahu where they baked the roots of the ti plant into a sweet food that was eaten like candy. Thus, the name Kaimukī , which in the Hawaiian language, means “the ti root oven”.

Maybe Kaimukī really got its name from it’s naturally dusty and dry landscape, having only one known spring in the area. Still, in the 19th century, King Kalākaua took the land over as his personal farmland and was known to let his ostriches roam wild in the mountains.

It wasn’t until the Chinatown Fire of 1900 left many Chinese people homeless that Kaimukī began its transformation into a residential area in earnest. Those who didn’t rebuild in Chinatown moved their households and businesses to Kaimukī, where just a few years before, a water system had been constructed.

Being so close to Honolulu, an early vision for Kaimukī took shape: a suburb where residents could commute from each day for work. So, in the first decade of the 20th century, electric streetcar routes extended out to the Kaimukī area. That was all it took for waves of young families to move there.

Eventually, Kaimukī  became a live-work destination in its own right, as Waialae Avenue became a busy thoroughfare and magnet for businesses. However, issues arose: Ala Moana Shopping Center in Waikiki and the Waialae Shopping Center became competition to the mom and pop stores in Kaimukī. Additionally, the new H-1 Freeway hurt those small businesses even more by diverting commuters.

But the community fought to get exit ramps added, and the H-1 Freeway may have ultimately been what saved Kaimukī’s main business thoroughfare. Since traffic is diverted by the freeway, Kaimukī’s businesses can serve local residents without the added pressure of investors looking to demolish and rebuild larger shopping centers.

The Best Things About Kaimukī

kaimuki neighborhoods
Photo courtesy of Keep It Kaimuki

Kaimukī is a little hamlet tucked behind Diamond Head Crater. Waialae Avenue is its business center and is lined with an eclectic mix of small shops, boutiques and some of the best eating spots on the island. Although it is known as a non-touristy part of Honolulu, if more tourists knew about it they’d enjoy the quirky vibe that is Kaimukī today.

And if more families knew about its school system, they might consider relocating. A neighborhood which houses many schools within its boundaries, Kaimukī boasts Waialae School, a public charter elementary school, along with Kaimukī Middle School and Kaimukī High School. Private schools also abound, with Saint Louis School for boys, Sacred Hearts Academy for girls, St. Patrick’s co-ed school for K-8, and Kaimukī Christian School. There’s also Kapiolani Community College on Kaimukī’s perimeter, with the University of Hawai‛i Manoa Campus just two short miles away.

Besides a mix of shopping venues where you can find everything from vintage aloha shirts to Japanese fabrics, the eating places in Kaimukī are highly worth mentioning. You can satisfy your hunger with everything from Chinese dim sum at Happy Days restaurant to Portuguese donuts, called malasadas, at iconic Leonard’s Bakery. You could spend a whole weekend dining on the octopus salad sandwich at Kaimukī Superette, the breakfast bruschetta at Koko Head Café, or Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) gelato at Via Gelato. Indulge in boiled peanuts at Tamura’s, the teriyaki bento box at Okata Bento, or the freshest catch of the day at Fresh Catch. And try anything at all where former First Lady Michele Obama came to eat: the trendy farm-to-table restaurant, Town.

And the fun of Kaimukī is that there’s so much more to discover than the few places mentioned here.

Happy Days Chinese Seafood Restaurant
Photo: Happy Days Chinese Seafood Restaurant

What’s Ahead for Kaimukī?

Kaimukī is on the cusp between preservation and development. The vision is to find the balance for both.

On the preservation side, there’s a strong community in Kaimukī which continues to discuss the best options for residents. ENVISION KAIMUKĪ has already held a series of town hall-style meetings where they’ve discussed strategies for Kaimukī’s future. They aim to improve pedestrian safety, make Kaimukī more of an age-friendly community, develope bike-friendly streets, and beautify the mature tree canopy.

On the business end, KEEP IT KAIMUKĪ is a grassroots organization formed by small business owners who strive to collaborate to keep the business community strong.

With cooperation and aloha between residents and businesses, Kaimukī will continue to be a choice location to live, as well as work, for Hawai‛i residents. To see homes for sale in Kaimukī click here or call me at 808-843-0003.


Header image of Kaimuki as seen from Puu o Kaimuki Park, the highest point in the neighborhood, Travis Thurston, Wikipedia.






Our 2018 Year in Review

CompassLogo_Black-jpegAs many know, Compass is a leader of innovation and technology in the real estate industry. With all the buzz in the news about the growth and scope of Compass, and the transformation that Compass is making in the world of real estate, it’s hard not to see the company as simply growth-driven. But what many might not know is that there’s something much deeper which drives the company. Compass is a human-centered business. From its inception, Compass was founded with the mission to elevate the agent, and to elevate the human experience. People, their hopes and dreams, their families and well-being are the driving force behind every innovation Compass makes. It is to those aims that Compass had such an exciting year last year, and to those aims that it holds its vision for this new year.

Last year was monumental for Compass. In the beginning of 2018, Compass started with 30 offices, and it finished the year with over 150. We are now in the top 20 markets in the country, with eight major market launches in 2018. Over 1,000 employees were hired, and nearly 6,000 new agents were signed. The company raised $1.2 billion, with $400 million coming from a single investor. Compass is now valued at $4.4 billion.

One of the proudest accomplishments for Compass in 2018 is that the company now provides access to a great healthcare plan for all its agents. The company also made the monumental decision to invest $250 million in agents, helping us grow and run our businesses to their optimum potentials, a move which directly benefits clients. This will happen in the following five ways:

  1. The Agent Betterment Fund: provides interest-free loans for agents to invest in ourselves and our businesses, which we can pay back on our own timelines.
  2. The Compass Concierge: completely funds all of the cosmetic improvements that an agent makes to a home: staging, renovations, landscaping, cleaning, etc. When the home sells, the agent simply adds the expenses to the cost of the commission.
  3. Compass Bridge Loans Program: this incredibly generous, forward-thinking, and extraordinary program provides fair, simple bridge loans that we offer our clients they can buy a home while we sell their current home.
  4. Access to Chief Operating Officers: renowned COO’s to help manage our business so we can focus on our clients.
  5. The Compass Card: a card that lets us easily manage and pay all of our business expenses, and then pay them back through future commissions.

In 2018 technological advances, we were exceedingly productive. We hired former Microsoft and Amazon executive Joseph Sirosh as our new Chief Technology Officer, and two weeks later, launched our technology campus in Seattle. We will hire 100 engineers to focus on marketing technology, web and mobile, security, and AI, with the goal of building real estate’s first-ever end-to-end platform.

This platform rids the agent of all the fragmented pieces of technology and tools traditionally used to run a real estate business, and streamlines it all onto one platform, so that it can be managed in one place. Each client is better served through this platform. It enables us as agents to immediately put our client’s home listing into the hands of any agent in the U.S. who has sold a similar type of home, increasing chances of a faster sale. We can also reach out to any other agent whose client has looked at the listing, making a personal tour or well-attended open house a likely outcome. Additionally, this platform gives access to real-time data from the entire market, instantly. Finding out in real time when a home hits the market, or when a price drop happens, is invaluable.

Another technological advancement is Compass’s Smart Sign, the revolutionary take on the traditional “for sale” sign. The sign lights up whenever anyone moves within 20 feet of it. It can be accessed by Bluetooth and Waze. If a buyer or seller has the Compass app open on their phone when they pass by one of these signs, information about the home is sent directly to the app. Ultimately, the Smart Sign serves as a hub of information related to the home being sold, which anyone can access through the Compass app, thus eliminating waiting and wondering.

Finally, one of the most meaningful contributions Compass made in 2018 was the launching of Compass Cares. Through this program, 100% of transactions will result in a donation being made to a local non-profit. The agents at each office will collectively decide each month to which charity to donate the money. Business going as it is for Compass, the projected amount to be donated nationally by the end of this year is $10 million. The projected amount for the next 10 years is $1 billion.

Now that is a company that cares.

805 Washington Street, Unit 4

$4,500 per month / Charming and spacious two bedroom apartment located on the best block in the Meatpacking District. As you enter into the apartment you are greeted by the expansive living room and open kitchen, both flooded with light. Both bedrooms have ample custom built out closet space and the apartment features a recently renovated kitchen and bathroom, washer/dryer in unit, custom cabinetry, granite counters and stainless steel appliances.

Located in prime Meatpacking District which is flooded with amazing boutiques, great restaurants, and transportation.

For more information about this home, call me at 917.854.5069. Click here to view full details about this property.


November Honolulu numbers show a steady market for sellers, with prices up 6% for single family homes and 8% for condos compared with this time last year. Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Avg Sales Price


Median sale prices in Honolulu have gone up 3 and 4% since Nov 2017 for single family homes and condos respectively. Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Median Sales Price


Even though the number of months of inventory is up 40% for single family homes in Honolulu and 24% for condos, the absorption rate is still in the highly competitive (for sellers) range of 3 months.

Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Months Of Inventory

Single family homes in Honolulu are spending a median of 28 days on the market while condos are spending a median of 22 day on the market, an increase of 75% and 10% since November 2017.

Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Median DOM


Compared with November of 2017, there were 18% more new single family homes put on the market and a decrease of 3% in number of new condos listed. Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_New Listings


There are currently approximately 1,454 active single family homes and 2,103 condos on the market in Honolulu.Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Active Listings

405 single family homes and 574 condos in Honolulu are pending sale.

Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Pending Sales


During November, 288 single family homes and 429 condos closed in Honolulu.

Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Closed Sales

In November single family homes received 96.9% of asking price while condos received 97.9% of asking price.

Honolulu_MSR_Nov2018_Original Price Received

The market is holding strong and steady in Honolulu, and current conditions continue to favor sellers. Please let me know if you would like to sell your Honolulu home or help you find your dream Honolulu home.


Winter in the Islands

Winter in Hawai‛i is almost like Summer in Hawai‛i. That’s what happens when you live near the equator. Hawaiian weather isn’t divided up into “seasons” like it is in other places. The Hawaiian summer known as “kau” runs from May to October and has a daytime average temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter, known as “ho‛oilo”, is from November to April, where the daytime average temperature is a frigid 78 degrees. While the winter months do tend to be rainier, a light jacket and umbrella are all you’ll really need to be comfortable. This weather is what makes Hawai‛i a popular vacation destination all year.

Believe it or not, there is snow on Hawai‛i’s tallest peaks during winter: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Hawai‛i Island, and Haleakalā on Maui. If skiing in Hawai‛i is on your bucket list, your best bet is to check out the weather conditions on Mauna Kea. Skiing Mauna Kea is a rugged experience, and one you won’t forget.

The southern and western parts of the islands are a bit drier. As these areas get less rain, visitors might want to find winter accommodations in these places:

  • O‛ahu: Waikiki or Ko Olina on the west side
  • Maui: Kaanapali or Kihei
  • Hawai‛i Island: Waikoloa or the Kohala Coast
  • Kaua‛i: Poipū and Waimea (although Kaua‛i is the island with the most rain)

But remember, just because it’s raining in one part of the island doesn’t mean it’s raining everywhere. Often you can drive right out from under a rain cloud and into the sunshine.

Mauna Kea, Big Island of Hawai’i. Photo by Vadim Kurland, Wikimedia.

Whale Watching

Not unlike our human visitors seeking warmer weather, humpback whales make their annual migration into warm Hawaiian waters. Swimming almost non-stop for up to 8 weeks, the whales leave Alaska’s icy ocean to mate, give birth, and nurture their calves offshore.

Whale season lasts from November to May, with peak sightings between January and March. Whales can be seen quite easily from most shorelines around the Hawaiian Islands. Take binoculars with you on a trip to the beach or a scenic lookout, and watch for the blows, pec slaps, and breaches of Hawai‘i’s noble humpbacks.

Boat tours and whale-watching cruises are popular on all the islands, and the knowledgeable crews will take you to the best spots for viewing whales in the open ocean.

If you’d like to help protect the whale population, the annual Sanctuary Ocean Count gives residents and visitors the chance to help in evaluating the status of humpback whales. Volunteers are assigned a lookout spot for an assigned time, so you can watch for whales while adding to the statewide count. The count is held on the last Saturdays of January, February and March on the islands of O‛ahu, Hawai‛i and Kaua‛i. Find out how you can volunteer!

Winter Festivities

Winters here may be green, but Hawaiians love to celebrate the holidays and heartily welcome in the New Year. Formal fireworks displays can be seen on all of the islands on New Year’s Eve, and if you drive through neighborhoods you’ll also see families in revelry, lighting fireworks in their yards.

But, December 31st isn’t the only New Year Hawaiians ring in: Chinese New Year is equally revered throughout the islands. In 2019, the Chinese Year of the Pig will be celebrated from February 5-19. The largest celebration takes place in O‛ahu’s Chinatown, with events spanning the entire two week period. For more information, call the Chinese Chamber of Commerce at (808) 533-3181.

Here are just a few of the winter festivities that you can enjoy throughout the islands:

Honolulu City Lights – December 1-January 1
8AM-11PM daily
530 S. King Street, Honolulu
A must-see for the whole family, and a month-long party. You’ll love the 50-foot Christmas tree, themed displays that make for great photo ops, food booths, games, and rides for the young and young-at-heart.

Seven Days Till Christmas – December 19-25
6PM-7PM daily
Waikiki Beach Walk
Stroll over to the Waikiki Beach Walk at sunset, and watch a hula show and Hawaiian musical performances by different groups each night.

Maui Whale Festival – February 2-23
It takes a HUGE festival to honor these 40-ton mammals, so this Maui festival lasts far more than one day. Check out their website to find out more about events such as Run for the Whales, the Whale Regatta, World Whale Film Festival, the Great Whale Count, and more!

Waimea Town Celebration – February 16-24
Waimea Town, Kaua‛i
This 9-Day festival takes place in Waimea where the whole town welcomes visitors and celebrates their plantation heritage and Native Hawaiian culture. Free events include Music in the Park and Heritage of Aloha Ho‛olaule‛a. Other events may charge a nominal fee.

Main image courtesy of

Neighborhood Spotlight: Kapolei

Kapolei is the fastest growing area in the state of Hawai‛i. With urban Honolulu approaching full build-out, state and county governments have designated Kapolei as “O‛ahu’s Second City,” and West O‛ahu’s hub for business, commerce, and government.

A master-planned community with almost 12,000 homes, condos and townhouses, the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting expects that number to be at least 50,000 by 2035.

Luckily, Kapolei is a thriving community, boasting wide streets and plenty of amenities for residents. The area features big-box stores, several shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, other recreational options, and county and state government offices. Anyone who lives and works in Kapolei will almost never need to drive into downtown Honolulu for anything.

Located just off the H-1 Freeway heading west on the way to Wai‛anae, Kapolei is 15 minutes from Pearl Harbor, 20 minutes from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, and 30 minutes from downtown Honolulu.

Whether you are looking to live in Kapolei, or you’re buying an investment rental property, Kapolei is a highly desirable area with plenty of growth potential.

History of Kapolei and its Growth

James Campbell was a 24-year-old Irish carpenter when he sailed to Hawai‛i in 1850 on a whaling ship. Campbell was to become one of Hawai‛i’s most famous business pioneers. Living much of his early life on Maui, he co-owned Pioneer Mill and later sold it, using the proceeds to buy large amounts of land on O‛ahu, Maui, and the Island of Hawai‛i.

His largest acquisition was 41,000 acres of dry ranch land on O‛ahu’s Ewa plain, which he bought for $95,000 in 1877. He drilled the first artesian well in Hawai‛i on this land, and uncovered a pure water reserve that transformed the arid land into a fertile sugar plantation.

Campbell set up a trust for his heirs, and in 1955 the James Campbell Estate issued a Master Plan detailing the transformation of the Ewa plain into a dynamic economic center. In 1958 the Estate opened the James Campbell Industrial Park, with Standard Oil Company as the first tenant. As early as 1977, the City and County of Honolulu had already designated this area to be O‛ahu’s “Second City,” and in 1990 the Campbell Estate finally broke ground on the City of Kapolei.

Rapid growth has taken place in Kapolei since 1990. Here are some notable developments that make Kapolei an ideal place to live and work:

Shopping – Several major shopping centers serve the Kapolei community, with large stores which include Home Depot, Target, Costco, Walmart, Ross, Macy’s, Office Max, Safeway, Foodland, and more.

Education – Kapolei Elementary, Middle, and High Schools serve the families of Kapolei. There is a growing contingent of private schools, including the Island Pacific Academy, which is a private college preparatory school. In 2012, University of Hawai‛i – West O‛ahu opened its doors in Kapolei and offers bachelor’s degrees in a wide range of academic majors. The University of Phoenix also has a presence in Kapolei.

Recreation – There’s plenty to do in and around Kapolei. Nearby white sand beaches are where the locals go for fun. The Ko Olina Resort and Marina, along with its four gorgeous lagoons, is Kapolei’s premier resort destination. At Ko Olina are also other resorts such as the Disney Aulani, Marriott Ihilani, and Four Seasons. Kapolei has several championship golf courses, the Wet ‘n Wild Hawai‛i Water Park, which features the Chief’s Luau, lots of green space at county parks, and several biking and hiking trails.

Kapolei golf club
Kapolei Golf Course. Photo courtesy of Kapolei Golf Club

Up and Coming in Kapolei

What does the future hold for Kapolei, aside from expanded housing development and growing neighborhoods?

The most consequential development will be the completion of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, estimated to be finished by the end of 2025.

O‛ahu’s transportation system will expand when the 20-mile transit line connects Kapolei with downtown Honolulu. The raised-rail system has already started construction and will have five transit stations in the Kapolei area. The first half of the system will go from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium and should be finished by the end of 2020. Construction of the final 4.3-mile section through downtown Honolulu, which is expected to be the most difficult to build, has not yet started but is projected to be completed by the end of 2025.

Honolulu Rail Transit’s first rail car on display in Feb 2017.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

It’s November in New York and that means three things: Q3 Market Updates are out, holiday shopping begins, and it’s time for a feast of food. New York City is a special place to be during the holiday season, and it’s an even more special place to own a home. The market has shifted considerably over the last few years – with a mad rush to buy turning into flat and then declining numbers in the last ~2 years. The market is strong for buyers, a great shift for those who are looking to buy or upgrade, and important information for sellers to keep in mind. Here are the numbers:

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Eco-Friendly Holiday Shopping in Honolulu

Because living on an island challenges Hawai‛i residents to live in harmony with the environment, I’ve grouped together some eco-friendly places that locals love to shop for the holidays. I’ve also included some online shopping venues, because shopping online saves gas, time, and the stress of long lines. And everybody loves that!

Eco-Friendly Shops

Roberta Oaks  19 North Pauahi Street, Honolulu 96817, (808) 526-1111

Also in Chinatown, this is the spot where hip locals buy their modern fitting Aloha Shirts and vintage-inspired dresses. Roberta Oaks is a Missouri native whose artistic roots bloomed from her farmhouse childhood and hippie parents. The Roberta Oaks brand evokes memories of the ‘60’s. Clothing is handmade in Honolulu, and the Aloha Shirts are created in small batches which has made them collectors’ items. The shop carries brands like Angel Court, Herbivore Botanicals, Stone & Cloth, Threads & Stones, Topo Designs, Will Leather Goods, and locally crafted jewelry and body products.

WIMINI  326 Kuulei Road, Kailua 96734, (808) 462-6338

Started in 2007 by Mari and Yutaka Chino, the shop is filled with hand-printed shirts for babies, kids and adults. They also have home décor, jewelry, and other types of apparel. Yutaka is a Tokyo-born graphic designer who moved to Hawai’i in 1992. WIMINI uses water-based inks that are safe for humans and the environment. The inks are also re-cleansed with water to make the prints feel softer. Amazingly, WIMINI uses sunlight instead of electrical exposure units to expose the screens, since the sun shines for most of the year in Hawai’i. The t-shirts are made in a small garment factory in Los Angeles, and they are individually hand printed in the company’s tiny factory in Hawai‛i.

Mu‛umu‛u Heaven  326 Kuulei Road #2, Kailua 96734, (808) 366-2260

Deb Mascia founded Mu‛umu‛u Heaven in 2005 with the desire to recycle vintage island-wear into new quality products. She describes her brand as ‘earth-loving, vintage-loving, …ocean-loving.’ She transforms vintage Hawaiian apparel into one-of-a-kind eco-friendly pieces and easy-to-wear pieces. The vintage fabric is also used to bring to life new pillows and home décor items.

Lily Lotus Boutique  3632 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu 96816, (808) 277-1724

Lily Lotus embodies eco-friendly clothing for a mindful lifestyle. The shop includes organic and eco-friendly yogawear, fitness and active apparel along with home décor, artwork, stationery, crystals and jewelry. The sustainable fabrics don’t hold wrinkles and they wear and pack nicely.

Owens & Co.  1152 Nuuanu Avenue, Honolulu 96817, (808) 531-4300

Nestled in the historic Arts District of Honolulu’s Chinatown, Owens & Co. has been serving up uniquely curated home accessories and gifts since 2011. They carry exclusive clothing lines, handmade soaps, boxed stationery, home accessories, rare gifts from across the globe, jewelry, greeting cards, fragrances, kitchenware, and gifts for children and pets.

Online Shopping Ideas

Courtesy Hawaiian Aroma Caffe

Hawaiian Aroma Caffe

Hawaiian Aroma Caffe has a string of high-quality cafes in Waikiki. Their eco-friendly business practices include a photovoltaic-paneled 17,000 square foot roasting facility in West O‛ahu, and a fleet of hybrid-powered company vehicles. Check out their website for the café nearest you, because you’ll enjoy watching their talented baristas and latte art. Order their premium island coffees for direct-shipping to your recipient’s home.


Waikiki Xmas Ornament
Waikiki Christmas Ornament Courtesy Maui by Design

Maui by Design

If you know a Christmas ornament collector, check out these hand painted Christmas ornament inspired by the sights and sounds of Hawai‛i. It’s mailed directly to your recipient’s home and they have 50 scenes to choose from to remind you of Hawai‛i every Christmas.

Whether you’re in the market for a small or large gift, locals and visitors will thank you for shopping sustainably.

Image Header by Kari Shea on Unsplash.