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Kaua`i REALTORS® Work To Revitalize The Lihu`e Business District

By HOM Editor
August 2017


A hundred years ago downtown Lihu`e was a bustling and emerging center of commerce. The old Lihue Plantation stables were demolished to make way for the new Tip Top theater and a large general store that would rival the Honolulu Emporium was going up. Lihu`e was no longer a village primarily made up of field laborers as more and more merchants and entrepreneurs began to set up shop.

According to the Hawaii Business article “Rebirth on Rice Street”, the business district of Lihu`e of is very different in 2017. “Today, sidewalks are sidewalks are narrow, cracked and littered. Parks, lawns and benches are hangouts for the homeless. Once a proud gathering place, Rice Street is now little more than a thoroughfare for motorists en route to someplace else.”

Karen Ono, Executive Officer on the Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® agrees, “It’s the heart of Lihue, but when you look at it, it’s the dying heart of Lihue.” The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® has taken a pro-active role in the area’s revival, partnering with Kaua`i County’s efforts to breathe life back into the Lihu`e business district.

The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® has taken a pro-active role in breathing life back into the Lihu`e business district.Click To Tweet

The Kaua`i Board wanted to supplement the $13,000,000 National “TIGER” Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) the county had already received for the business district’s improvement. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has a Smart Growth Action Grant that supports a wide range of land-use related activities and the board felt it would be a good fit for the Kaua`i project. NAR agreed and gave the board $15,000 to put towards revitalization efforts. The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® increased NAR’s contribution by adding an additional $1,500 of their own money to go towards consulting fees as the project moves forward.

The County and the Rice Street Community have been very excited to have the local REALTORS® involved. The local REALTOR® “Young Peoples Network” has been spreading the word by canvassing the businesses along Rice Street and the Kaua`i Board  has sent notices by mail to Kaua`i landowners and stakeholders to create awareness within the community.

The Kaua`i Board is actively participating with the Rice Street Branding committee as the second phase consultant is being brought onboard to assist in facilitating a standing Rice Street Community Association. The initial group is meeting on a weekly basis and is planning a launch of the new Rice Street Brand on site with a Rice Street Block party in late September 2017.

The event will create a festive party atmosphere by temporarily closing an area of Rice Street to traffic, encouraging local businesses to stay open and bringing in live entertainment, food trucks, artists, and activities for both adults and keiki.  The street will be realigned in accordance with the “TIGER” grant design making the area multimodal by adding additional on street parking, bike lanes, and additional pedestrian crosswalks.

The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® continues to be active across the island. It has recently used a placemaking grant in partnership with two non-profit organizations, Malama Hulei`a and Hale Opio, to create a new historic photo exhibit at the Niumalu Beach Park Pavilion.


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