Kamehameha Schools to Transition Royal Hawaiian Center to a Ground Lease

Kamehameha Schools announced today its intent to offer for sale the buildings at Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikīkī while retaining ownership of the underlying lands. This decision is part of the Trust’s proactive strategy to optimize the growth and perpetuity of the endowment that supports Kamehameha Schools’ educational mission.

Royal Hawaiian Center
“The transition of the Royal Hawaiian Center from a fully owned Kamehameha Schools property to one where Kamehameha Schools retains our lands but sells its improvements greatly strengthens and diversifies our perpetual endowment. This is aligned with our 2000-2015 Strategic Plan, which calls for active stewardship of our lands while optimizing the value and use of current financial and nonfinancial resources in support of our educational mission,” explained CEO Dee Jay Mailer. “With this decision, we are able to keep and care for our lands while using the funds from its improvements to benefit our children’s futures in perpetuity.“

Over the past 10 years, Kamehameha Schools has spent more than $2.6 billion on education in Hawai’i. Educational programs, collaborations and other activities supported by Kamehameha Schools serve more than 47,000 learners and families each year. In addition to operating private schools, Kamehameha serves as the largest private funder of public education in Hawaii.

“A successful sale of these improvements would reduce risk to our Endowment through greater diversification. It would create better balance in our overall portfolio,” said Elizabeth Hokada, Kamehameha Schools’ Vice President for Endowment. “The thriving business at Royal Hawaiian Center should continue as usual under a Kamehameha Schools ground lease, similar to the successful ground lease Kamehameha has with the neighboring Royal Hawaiian Hotel.”

Royal Hawaiian Center, the premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination in Waikīkī, is located on a 6.3 acre parcel along a three-block stretch of famed Kalākaua Avenue. The Center comprises just over 322,000 square feet of leasable area with more than 110 shops and restaurants. A unique 30,000 square foot cultural venue, The Royal Grove, is reminiscent of Waikīkī’s historic Helumoa coconut grove. The Center was built in 1979 and underwent a renovation in 2005.

“Should this transition take place, it will in no way diminish our commitment to the stewardship of Helumoa, an ancestral home of our beloved founder, Bernice Pauahi Bishop,” CEO Mailer said. “Helumoa is a special place for us – a wahi pana that we cherish. This ‘āina sustained our ancestors as a place of peace, friendship, relaxation and healing. Today and for generations to come, under Kamehameha’s care, Helumoa will remain that place of peace and aloha for our people, as it provides the gifts of educational funding and rich cultural experiences that fulfill the vision of our benefactor.”

Mailer emphasized that Kamehameha Schools will still own and steward the lands of Helumoa. And as Kamehameha Schools considers potential buyers for the buildings of the Royal Hawaiian Center, the organization will seek those who understand and value the historic and cultural importance of this place. Their commitment to the vision for Helumoa will be an important factor in the decision-making process.


Kohala Community Nonprofit Purchases Historic 27.5-Acre Coastal Property

The Kohala community nonprofit Maika‘i Kamakani ‘O Kohala, Inc. announced that it purchased more than 27.5 acres of undeveloped shoreline at Kauhola Point, located in Hala‘ula, North Kohala.

Making the $1.3 million purchase possible was a public-private partnership of the state Legacy Land Conservation Program under the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Trust for Public Land, Maika‘i Kamakani ‘O Kohala, Inc., Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors Program, the Dorrance Family Foundation, the Freeman Family Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, the HEI Charitable Foundation, the Hawaii Electric Light Company, The Trust for Public Land’s Advisory Council Member Edmund Olson, the Zirinsky family (a Trust for Public Land donor), and many community members and stakeholders.

The spectacular property encompasses the vast majority of the peninsula known as Kauhola Point. The property affords Kohala families a safe and beautiful place to spend quality time together and engage in healthy outdoor activities, is a recognized model of community stewardship, and connects the people of Kohala to their rich Hawaiian history.

Kauhola Point has been used as a community-gathering place from wā kahiko (ancient times) to present day. King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands, rested here after warfare and focus on peacetime activities — recreation, marriage and agriculture. Kamehameha taught his most beloved wife, Ka‘ahumanu, how to surf in the waters of Maliu off the property’s shores. As noted on an 1893 Hawaiian government map, the property was the site of Kamehameha’s Taro Patches and Kamehameha’s Fishpond.

The remains of Mulei‘ula heiau, possibly Ohau heiau, and another unmarked sacred site, are thought to be places of worship of Kamehameha and other chiefly lines that existed prior to the Kamehameha dynasty.

During the sugarcane era, this was the official recreation area for plantation families, and the site of numerous company and ethnic organizations’ picnics and softball games. To this day, children in North Kohala grow up exercising with their kupuna (elders), fishing, swimming, and learning how to surf at “lighthouse,” a loving nickname given to the property and surrounding area due to the iconic Kauhola Point Lighthouse that once stood guard there.

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