Keawalau at Waipahu 

A gathering place for Waipahu: true to its roots, a place that welcomes all

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Place names can convey a story and connect us to our past. Our newest community is named Keawalau, which is a traditional name for Puʻuloa (Pearl Harbor). Keawalau, whose English interpretation means “the many bays,” pays homage to the interconnected systems of the waters and surrounding lands that come together to create a place rich in resources.

Keawalau was proposed to benefit Waipahu residents in many ways. Once completed, Keawalau will offer a diverse mix of neighborhood retail and businesses, community gathering spaces, and approximately 500 new affordable (60% of Area Median Income) kūpuna and ʻohana rental housing units. The proposed community sits on 3.8 acres of land within 500 feet of the Waipahu Bus Transit Center and HART’S Pouhala Station.  

Keawalau is envisioned as a transit-oriented community that will create opportunities for kama‘āina to live, work and thrive with new affordable housing, shopping, and dining experiences with community-focused programming and activities.  

Currently, in the planning phase, this family-friendly community celebrates Waipahu’s rich and diverse cultures while serving as a place to build new connections—to learn from, care for and enjoy the place we call home.

We are eager to work with our neighbors to celebrate Waipahu’s history and create a bright future. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Keawalau, we invite you to sign up for ongoing updates. To do so, click here. 

You may also contact our community outreach team at 808-437-2646 or by email at KeawalauOutreach@Gmail.com


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In Waipahu, For Waipahu

History of The Land

Moʻokūʻauhau (Genealogy)  

The Keawalau project area is located within the ʻili of Kapakahi, a smaller land division in the ahupuaʻa of Waikele. In 1862, these lands were awarded to Davida Kauliokamoa (konohiki of Kapakahi). The lands were later deeded by Loke Keanui (wife of Kauliokamoa) to Kamehameha V Lot Kapuāiwa in 1869. In 1872, Kamehameha V passed the lands to Ruth Ke‘elikōlani. The Kapakahi lands then become part of the original endowment inherited by Ke Aliʻi Bernice Pauahi Bishop in 1883.  

Traditional Hawaiian Society 

The mo‘olelo (stories) and place names paint a picture of a thriving community, rich in natural resources, located where spring-fed streams meet Pu‘uloa. Hawaiian settlements in ‘Ewa date back to the 12th century A.D. It was the political center of O‘ahu for several centuries. The area known today as Waipahu and the specific project site (located within the ʻili of Kapakahi) was a vision of vast, innovative lo‘i and fishponds that teemed with fish and pearl oysters – all fiercely guarded by the benevolent shark goddess, Kaʻahupāhau. 

By 1870, however, this thriving community was in decline as traditional agriculture gave way to the sugar plantation and immigrant workers. 

Plantation Era  

The project site was then converted from lo‘i kalo to rice paddies, farmed by Chinese immigrants who had ended their contracts with sugar plantations. O‘ahu Sugar Co. was established in 1898 and began bringing immigrant workers in to the area. It is likely in this era that the plantation town began to be referred to as “Waipahu” or “Waipahu” (lit. “bursting water” as in bursting forth from underground) after a well-known spring located nearby. 

Post-Plantation  

O‘ahu Sugar Co. officially ceased operations in 1995. Waipahu then became known as a mostly Filipino community of former sugar workers and their descendants. With the presence of the Hawai‘i Plantation Village (opened in 1992) and the still-prominent smokestack, Waipahu continues to remind us of its storied past.   

Our Partners

Kamehameha Schools exists to create positive social change for Native Hawaiians through education in three K-12 campuses, 29 preschools, and numerous community programs statewide. As stewards of ‘Āina Pauahi—the landholdings of the estate of Ke Aliʻi Bernice Pauahi Bishop—Kamehameha Schools’ educational mission is supported in part by actively managing its legacy lands to ensure the vibrancy of its mission in perpetuity. The Commercial Real Estate Division in particular oversees the development of sustainable, vibrant communities where kama‘āina have opportunities to live, work, and thrive! 

Highridge Costa is meeting America’s affordable housing challenge through the development of attractive, architecturally significant, multifamily living environments that integrate seamlessly into rural, suburban and city neighborhoods. Highridge Costa has created a long term business focused on enhancing the lives of lower income family and senior households through the development, preservation, ownership, and operation of quality new and repositioned affordable housing. At Highridge Costa, we are committed to changing lives.  

AHED is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support the preservation, rehabilitation and development of, and access to, affordable and workforce housing, and to support economic opportunities for lower-income families.   

Community Events & Stakeholder Meetings

Community Engagement

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At the beginning of 2021, Highridge Costa and Kamehameha Schools began the process of connecting with the Waipahu community to share, learn and gather input related to the Keawalau project. There will be additional opportunities throughout the life of the project with online engagement, stakeholder meetings, community events, and outreach with residents, businesses, and government entities.

Hawai‘i’s Plantation Village – February 4, 2021

Kamehameha Schools Waipahu Tenant Virtual Meeting – February 9, 2021

Waipahu Neighborhood Board Meeting  – February 25, 2021

Waipahu Community Virtual Townhall – April 13, 2021

Waipahu Neighborhood Board Meeting – April 22, 2021

Kamehameha Schools Alumni Leaders Virtual Meeting – May 15, 2021

Waipahu Community Virtual Townhall - November 4, 2021

Hawai‘i’s Plantation Village

February 4, 2021

Kamehameha Schools Waipahu Tenant Virtual Meeting

February 9, 2021

Waipahu Neighborhood Board Meeting

February 25, 2021

Waipahu Community Virtual Townhall

April 13, 2021

Waipahu Neighborhood Board Meeting

April 22, 2021

Kamehameha Schools Alumni Leaders Virtual Meeting

May 15, 2021

Download Our Event FlyerDownload Our Event Flyer

Hawai‘i’s Plantation Village

February 4, 2021

Kamehameha Schools Waipahu Tenant Virtual Meeting

February 9, 2021

Waipahu Neighborhood Board Meeting

February 25, 2021

Waipahu Community Virtual Townhall

April 13, 2021

Waipahu Neighborhood Board Meeting

April 22, 2021

Kamehameha Schools Alumni Leaders Virtual Meeting

May 15, 2021

Waipahu Community Virtual Townhall

November 4, 2021

  • Keawalau is being built in Waipahu for Waipahu to improve quality of life and revitalize the community
  • Keawalau will invest approximately $290 million in the local economy
  • Keawalau will help foster an intergenerational community through the creation of new affordable kūpuna and ʻohana housing options
  • By creating a vibrant community, walkable retail facilities and welcoming gathering spaces, Keawalau will improve public safety
  • Keawalau will create 300-400 good paying local construction jobs, as well as dozens of permanent jobs in residential, retail and commercial areas

Benefits for Waipahu Residents

  • Keawalau will build new community gathering spaces and more than 50,000 square feet of high-quality retail
  • Keawalau will produce more than $5 million in fee revenue for local government to invest in quality-of-life priorities like public safety and street repairs
  • The proposed community will generate more than $1.9 million in new school fees to support local education
  • The community will be designed with sustainability in mind; all buildings will be constructed to LEED Silver standards or equivalent and all residential units will be outfitted with Energy Star Appliances and other sustainable features.
  • All units will be restricted at state-published affordable rents for sixty years, remaining affordable to support area residents for generations to come.