Coalition works on plan to revitalize Chinatown
$40,000 in grants funds development of 10 proposals
The city, several organizations, businesses and residents have joined forces to plan a "much-needed" major face lift for Chinatown, a center of commerce since the mid-1800s.
The following "Bright Ideas" winners were selected from 130 entries and each awarded a $4,000 grant to develop their one-page suggestions into full proposals to help revitalize Chinatown. All 130 entries will be displayed in print today at the ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.
» Asian ethnic movie nights at Aala Park several times a year -- Kelfred Chang
» Mural art utilizing blank walls as canvases to promote art -- Helene Brongniart
» Arts and crafts fairs promoting local products to tourists and residents-- Hui-Fang Bauer
» Expand the weekly Hawaii Chinese News to provide internships for high school and college students -- Elroy Chun
» Chinatown night market at Smith-Beretania Neighborhood Park to curtail undesirable activity -- Zheng Qirong (Anthony Chang) of the Chinese Culinary Arts Society
» Chinatown cultural showcase professionally produced and featuring local residents -- Sarah Richards and Elaine Evans of the Hawaii Theatre Center
» Historic preservation plaques denoting historical and cultural significance -- JoDee Hunt
» Guided walking tour of projected Chinatown in 2036 -- Jake Dunagan and Hawaii Research Center for Future Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa
» Modifying the Nuuanu streamside pedestrian mall by beautifying the walkway along the stream and creating a pedestrian bridge connecting Pauahi Street to Aala Park -- Val Yanagihara
» Change parking meter system by adding electronic meters to coin-operated machines -- Kim Coffee-Isaak
"This area really hasn't changed that much and has reached a standstill in development. It is an underutilized attraction that is not promoted to tourists or residents," said Val Yanagihara, who has worked as an architect in downtown Honolulu for almost 20 years.
"But if you bring the people, the businesses will come back and the drugs, prostitution and other crime will move out," Yanagihara said, in light of the recent shooting near Nuuanu Avenue and Kukui Street in Chinatown allegedly involving two pimps.
Yanagihara was among 10 Oahu visionaries awarded a total of $40,000 in grants yesterday to develop their one-page ideas into full proposals to enhance downtown Honolulu.
The winning entries included cultural events, modifications to enhance the area and many opportunities for the community to contribute.
"The focus isn't so much on the money, but the attention the ideas garner and the cooperation they will receive from the city and state," said Yanagihara, whose winning proposal -- redevelopment of the pedestrian mall along Nuuanu Stream -- was among seven of his entries.
Yanagihara, who used to fish by the Nuuanu Stream waterfall, said the competition gave them the perfect opportunity to express their ideas to rejuvenate Chinatown.
"I always used to think, Why doesn't anyone come to this waterfall?" he said. "My proposal enhances the stream and highlights all of the historic buildings that line it."
The Ford Foundation and several local banks provided each winner with $4,000. The Hawaii Alliance for Community Based Economic Development will provide technical assistance and help connect winners to other financial and community development resources.
Nancy Aleck, who was in charge of the selection committee that sifted through 130 submissions on subjects including culture, arts, tourism, transportation and historic preservation, said, "The variety and creativity of the ideas made our decision very challenging. ... Some were so visionary, we couldn't wait to see it fully developed."
Twenty semifinalists each made a five-minute oral presentation last week, and Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced the 10 winners of the Hawaii Arts Alliance's "Bright Ideas" competition yesterday at the ARTS at Marks Garage.
"There are a lot of people with many ideas, but few who follow through to make it a reality," said Yanagihara, who noted the next phase after developing their ideas is to meet with planners for a formal presentation.
There is no specific time line for the projects.
Chinatown is the first place in Hawaii -- and the seventh urban neighborhood in the nation-- to be recognized in the Preserve America program.