Jack Tyrrell specializes in Kakaako, Honolulu, Hawaii luxury condo projects.


Howard Hughes breaks ground on its next project, Kōʻula

Photo: Ward Village Facebook page

Photo: Ward Village Facebook page

Photo: Ward Village Facebook page

Photo: Ward Village Facebook page

Congratulations to The Howard Hughes Corporation for breaking ground on its sixth Ward Village mixed-use tower, Kōʻula! Situated in a prime location along the 1.5-acre Victoria Ward Park, this 41-story tower will include 565 residences comprised of studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3-bedroom units. Recently, Jeanne Gang, the principal architect of Studio Gang Architects - which is the team behind Kōʻula’s unique design - was named In TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2019.

Sales began in January, and as of June 2019, the building has been 64% pre-sold. Contact us if you would like to learn more about this exciting new development!

See more photos from the groundbreaking on PBN’s website here.

Photo: The Howard Hughes Corporation

Photo: The Howard Hughes Corporation

The Howard Hughes Corp. held a ceremonial groundbreaking on the sixth mixed-use tower at its Ward Village master-planned community in Honolulu Tuesday, a 41-story tower that will be built facing Victoria Ward Park.

Simon Treacy, president of The Howard Hughes Corp.’s Hawaii region, noted that the building, which will have 565 units, builds upon a wellness theme for Ward Village that began with the opening of the 1.5-acre park late last year.

Included in that is the exterior design by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang, which is meant to resemble sugar cane stalks as they move and twist.

“It could be one of the world’s most calming buildings,” Treacy told Pacific Business News after the ceremony. “Wellness is the thing we’re trying to curate.”

David Weinreb, CEO of The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC), came to Honolulu from the Dallas headquarters, along with company President Grant Herlitz and Chief Financial Officer David O’Reilly, for the ceremonial groundbreaking, which featured a traditional Hawaiian blessing by Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.

Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. has been working on the pre-construction part of the project; Howard Hughes representatives said the general contractor for the building has not been finalized.

Sales of the residential units in Koula began in January. By April 30, 331 units, or 58.6% of the total units, were pre-sold, according to the developer’s first quarter earnings report.

The company said Tuesday that the building was 64% pre-sold by the end of June.

Prices began at $514,000 for units in the podium, while tower units were priced from the $600,000s to the mid $2.4 millions. Interiors were designed by Yabu Pushelberg, and some units are available furnished with a “turnkey package.”

The building will also have 36,000 square feet of retail space on the first two floors.

Many of the sales have been to local buyers, Bonnie Wedemeyer, senior vice president of sales, told PBN.

“Sales have been very strong,” Wedemeyer said. “It’s consistently been so well received.”



Honolulu Mayor Signs New Law to Regulate Short-term Rentals

Photo:  Honolulu Civil Beat.  Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signs Bill 89 CD2 into law on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

Photo: Honolulu Civil Beat. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signs Bill 89 CD2 into law on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

Bill 89 CD2 regulating short-term rentals has been signed into law by Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Bill 89 CD2 was adopted by City Council on Monday, June 17.

From Hawaii News Now,

“Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill into law on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, that will enact some of the toughest new regulations for Oahu’s vacation rental industry in nearly 40 years.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Caldwell announced that he was putting his signature to paper on Bill 89, which allows permits to be issued for up to 1,715 owner-occupied bed-and-breakfast rentals. The measure was passed unanimously by the Honolulu City Council last week.

Currently, there are 770 legal short-term rentals licensed on Oahu, but estimates put the number of illegal vacation rentals from 8,000 to 20,000.

Rentals in resort areas, including Waikiki, Ko Olina and Turtle Bay, are exempt from the new law.

“Everything else is illegal,” Caldwell said.”

The new law’s main points are as follows:

  • Allows a limited number of new Bed and Breakfast Homes (B&B) in non-resort area under a new registration process, with annual renewal required.

  • Continues to prohibit Transient Vacation Units, or “unhosted” rentals, in non-resort areas, unless the dwelling has a Nonconforming Use Certificate (NUC).

  • Regulates hosting platforms, such as Expedia or Airbnb, requiring monthly reports to be filed with the Department of Planning and Permitting, which will share the information with City Council.

  • Makes illegal any form of advertising short-term rentals which are not in compliance with zoning regulations as provided in Bill 89.

So, what does this mean from a regulation standpoint? Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) has put together a FAQ sheet for your reference. Please read the entire sheet. Some highlights:


  • If you own an unhosted, “whole house” or Transiet Vacation Unit and pay taxes, you can only continue to advertise online (including on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO) and in the local newspaper if your dwelling is located in a resort district or you have a Non-Conforming Use Certificate.

  • Enforcement on advertising restrictions begins August 1, 2019.

  • Owners of the property involved in illegal advertising will be notified, and if the advertisement is taken down in 7 days, no fine will be imposed for a first offense. If not taken down within this deadline, fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 can be imposed for each day the advertisement remains on display.

  • If the management company for your property places an illegal ad, they company may be cited; however, “the burden of proof is on the owner to establish that the property is not being used as a B&B home or Transiet Vacation Unit or that the advertisement was placed without the property owner’s knowledge or consent” (Bill 89 CD2).

Registration of New B&Bs:

  • This law does not apply to rentals of 30 days or more.

  • Registration for a Bed and Breakfast Home (B&B) in non-resort areas will begin no sooner than October 1, 2020. DPP will spend the next year developing specific procedures, adopting new rules, and creating software to help with enforcement and the registration process. We will keep you updated.

Other Requirements:

  • Density Limit: No more than 907 dwelling units in the Primary Urban Center (where Kakaako/Ala Moana are located) are allowed to be permitted as B&Bs.

  • Condominium Limit. Up to 50% of units in a condominium building may be allowed a B&B, subject to AOAO approval.

  • There is no provision that guarantees you will receive a registration number; they will be given on a first-come, first-served basis or by lottery.

  • You may not advertise and operate a short-term rental until you have been issued a registration number by DPP.

More Information:

  • Refer to the Department’s website: honoluludpp.org

  • Email the Department: info@honoluludpp.org

  • Call the Department:

    • Advertising Restrictions: 768-8127

    • Registration Process: 768-8127

    • General Zoning Information: 768-8252

    • Make a complaint: 768-8127



Market News: Oahu luxury home sales dip 4% overall, as condo sales rise

Photo: Jack Tyrrell & Company

Photo: Jack Tyrrell & Company

Prices declined for luxury single-family and condo homes on Oahu for the month of May 2019 compared to May 2018, but prices continue to increase for luxury condos. In May 2019, prices for condos selling over $1.5 million or more rose by 36% from 19 units sold in May 2019 to 14 units sold in May 2018.

This shows the continued demand for condos in the luxury market, most of which are concentrated in the Ward Village and East Kakaako area.

Read more from Pacific Business News, below:

Sales and median prices of all luxury homes on Oahu declined by 4% in May, compared to a year ago, but the number of condominiums that sold for $1.5 million or more last month rose by 36%, according to a report from Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties.

There were a total of 46 luxury single-family homes and condominiums sold for $1.5 million or more in May, compared to 48 sales in May 2018. Of the total, 19 sales were condominium units, a 36% increase from 14 units sold in May 2018.

The median price of all luxury homes sold was $1.89 million, which was 4% less than the median price a year ago, which was $1.97 million.

The bulk of those sales, 26 properties, sold for between $1.5 million and $1.9 million, with the other 20 selling for $2 million or more — 12 sold for between $2 million and $2.9 million, three sold for between $3 million and $3.9 million and five sold for more than $4 million.

The highest price for a luxury property last month was $8.7 million for one of two new custom homes built on Kailua beach.

Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties also noted that the number of pending single-family home and condo sales in escrow increased in May, when compared to previous months.

“Escrow activity for both single-family homes and condominiums have improved over previous months, a positive sign for the market,” said Patti Nakagawa, Global Luxury director for Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, in a statement. “We continue to see offers being written for single-family homes and condominiums, especially for properties that are priced well.”



Howard Hughes opens Ke Kilohana workforce tower


Ward Village is growing! The Howard Hughes Corporation’s first workforce tower, Ke Kilohana, is now open to its first residents. This is the company’s fourth completed tower, a majority of which were bought by first-time homebuyers. We congratulate these first-time homebuyers on their new homes, right in the heart of Honolulu and within the growing and dynamic community of Ward Village.

For an inside look at the tower’s interior, visit Pacific Business News here and read their article below:

The Howard Hughes Corp. opened Ke Kilohana, its first workforce tower in Ward Village in Honolulu, on Tuesday to visitors and buyers, including a local couple who received the keys to their unit a day ahead of the first group of 100 that will move in this week.

The 43-story tower with its distinctive gray-and-yellow exterior has a total of 424 units, with 375 of those sold to buyers making between 100 and 140 percent of the area median income, many of whom are first-time homebuyers.

Those included Karen and Ricky Muraoka, who received the keys to their two-bedroom, two-bath apartment after a Hawaiian blessing on the eighth-floor recreation deck and allowed visitors to tour the 35th-floor unit.

Simon Treacy, president and CEO of The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC) in Hawaii, noted that the building is part of the developer’s vision to build homes of varying sizes and price ranges at the 60-acre Ward Village.

“This will not be the last reserved housing tower we will do at Ward Village,” he said.

The 375 reserved units were sold out; Howard Hughes had the remaining three of the market-priced units under contract by April 30, according to the company’s first quarter earnings report. The developer reserved 150 of the 750 units as workforce units at its fifth tower, Aalii, currently under construction behind the fourth tower, Aeo.

The first group of about 100 buyers will receive their keys on Wednesday. The remaining buyers will move in in phases between now and mid June. A 23,000-square-foot Longs Drugs store will open on the ground floor later this year.

Sales for the tower began in March 2016. General contractor Nordic PCL Construction began construction on the $219 million project in October of that year, and topped off the tower last summer. The building was designed by AC Martin and CDS International of Honolulu, with interior public spaces designed by The Vanguard Theory.



Market News: Home sales, prices decline on Oahu in April 2019

Photo: Honolulu Board of REALTORS®

Photo: Honolulu Board of REALTORS®

While the median price of a condominium in April 2019 increased from April 2018 by 0.7 percent, the number of condos that sold fell by 13 percent, with 476 units sold last month. Days on market also rose in April 2019 to 29 days, compared to 18 days in April 2018.

Read more from Pacific Business News, below:

Sales of single-family homes on Oahu rose by double digits, compared to a year ago, as the median price declined by 3 percent, while the number of condominiums sold in April dropped and the median price stayed relatively flat, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

There were 318 single-family homes sold in April, a 10 percent increase from 289 homes sold during the same month last year. The median price of those homes was $766,750, a decline of 2.9 percent from $790,000 in April 2018.

The median price of a condominium last month was $418,950, which was a 0.7 percent increase from $416,000 in April 2018. But the number of condos sold fell to 476 units, a 13 percent decrease from 547 units sold in April 2018.

“Low mortgage interest rates, coupled with more inventory on the market compared to last year, presented better opportunities for potential homebuyers and spurred more of them to buy,” Jenny L. Brady, President of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, said in a statement. “While condo sales were down comparatively, there was still a healthy number of condo units sold in April.”

Meanwhile, the board noted that active listings increased by 30.6 percent for single-family homes, compared to a year ago, and by 17.6 percent for condos, compared to April a year ago.

Homes are also remaining on the market longer — the median days on market for a single-family home rose to 25 in April, from 17 days last year, a jump of 47.1 percent. For condos, the median days on market rose 61.1 percent to 29 days, from 18 days in April last year.



Ward Village Kō‘ula architect listed on Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People

Photo: Time Magazine

Photo: Time Magazine

Jeanne Gang, the principal of Studio Gang Architects (and the team behind Kō‘ula) was recently named to TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2019! Kō‘ula is Studio Gang’s first major project on the Hawaiian Islands. The Ward Village development will embody indoor-outdoor living, with each unit designed to have ocean views. Please contact us to learn more about this exciting new project!

Read Time Magazine’s profile of Ms. Gang, below:

Jeanne Gang has the WOW factor. Her stunning Aqua, in Chicago, is the tallest building ever built by a woman. Now she’s building an even taller one. Yet, for Jeanne, architecture is not just a wondrous object. It’s a catalyst for change. Her sleek, woody boathouses are helping to revive the polluted Chicago River by filtering runoff organically. Her Polis Station concept aims to improve the way civilians interact with law enforcement by fusing police stations with civic recreational centers. She recently tested the idea in one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods, adding a basketball court to the 10th District police station in North Lawndale.
The results were so popular, she’s now expanding the facility.

Referring to the growing socioeconomic divides in our cities, Jeanne has warned her profession against “sorting ourselves into architects of the rich and architects of the poor,” and focuses instead on discovering “new possibilities for the discipline and beyond.” And it all started with playing in the dirt and making ice castles. Wow.



Irongate to sell Waikiki penthouses by the piece



Developer Irongate has set its sites on a lofty new expansion: The company is converting the penthouse floors in the Diamond Head Tower of the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, into an exclusive fractional-­ownership club.

Irongate announced plans to sell 84 shares in its new Diamond Head Club at a party Tuesday night to celebrate the successful fall opening of its most recent tower, which added another 245 ocean-view residences to Ritz-Carlton’s Waikiki offerings. Combined with the ‘Ewa Tower, the 552-unit project is the largest Ritz-Carlton Residences in the world.

But that distinction wasn’t enough for Irongate Chairman and CEO Jason Grosfeld, who has found a way to add even more exclusivity to one of the state’s highest-end projects. The private club will consist of six penthouses perched on the 37th and 38th floors of the 350-foot Diamond Head Tower. The two- to four-bedroom penthouses, ranging from 2,100 to 4,125 square feet, come with exclusive use of a 5,400-square-foot rooftop lanai with a 270-degree ocean and mountain view that stretches from Diamond Head to Barbers Point. They also have access to their own club concierge team and all Ritz-Carlton amenities.

Grosfeld said the club’s interior also will surpass any of the company’s projects to date, which in Hawaii also includes the Trump International Hotel Waikiki.

“It will blow people away,” Grosfeld said.

Grosfeld is referring to the project’s aesthetics, not its price point. Diamond Head Club owners will have a fee-simple interest in a portion of the penthouse, which is a fraction of what it would cost to buy the whole property.

Penthouses sold for $7 million to $20 million for the ‘Ewa Tower, which opened in July 2016, said Sarah Evans, Irongate’s managing director of marketing and sales opportunities. But fractional ownership in the club’s flexible ownership program will start at $700,000 for four weeks spread over the summer and winter, Evans said. There will also be a fixed ownership program that allows owners to come annually during the same peak two-week period, including Christmas and New Year’s, Golden Week and Obon, she said.

Joseph Toy, president and CEO of Hospitality Advisors LLC, expects the market to quickly absorb the club units.

“There’s definitely a market for high-end fractionals, and I expect demand will be elevated because this product is in Waikiki and is backed by the service and amenities of the Ritz-Carlton brand,” Toy said.

Mark Bratton, senior vice president of Colliers International, said developers, especially on the high end, are more bullish than ever about Waikiki. The trick, however, is finding available space to develop or redevelop.

“Most of our stuff was built in the late 1960s and 1970s,” Bratton said. “We’re also constrained by the Ala Wai Canal. If we cleaned it up and made it more approachable, it could become new waterfront, and we’d see more luxury properties on that end, too.”

Grosfeld said the beauty of the club is that it allows Irongate to deliver more luxury development to Waikiki, where construction costs, limited availability of land and lengthy entitlements have created barriers to entry.

“As you can see from the company’s investment in Waikiki over the last 16 years, we are believers, and we certainly would like to do more in Waikiki,” he said.

Grosfeld said Diamond Head Club allows Irongate to reach a whole new market while providing greater choice for buyers. Evans said hotel condominiums on the other floors of the Diamond Head Tower began selling in the summer of 2014 and were largely sold out by mid-2016.

Grosfeld said the new concept is predicated on the belief that there also “are a lot of people, who for about the same amount of money, would rather have a two-, three- or four-bedroom penthouse and are completely fine with just using it for a few weeks or few months of the year.”



Thompson Named 2018 Salesperson of the Year


Congratulations to Polynesian Voyaging Society Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson for being named Salesperson of the Year by Sales & Marketing Executives Honolulu (SME Honolulu)! We were honored to be present at SME Honolulu’s annual luncheon where outstanding members of the community who greatly enhance the image of Hawaii are recognized.

Read more below:

Sales & Marketing Executives Honolulu (SME Honolulu) reports that this year’s Salesperson of the Year (SPOY) is Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Nainoa Thompson has been named the 2018 Salesperson of the Year. PC: SME Honolulu

Current SME Honolulu President Janet M. Scheffer said, “We’re excited that Hawai‘i’s iconic leaders, both past and present, will be there to recognize the newest member of this very special group of SPOY honorees, Nainoa Thompson.”

Each year, SME Honolulu recognizes one member of the community who greatly enhances the image of Hawai‘i and the quality of life in our community. This is the 62nd consecutive year that SME Honolulu has awarded this honor.

Thompson is the first Native Hawaiian in 600 years to practice the ancient Polynesian art of navigation; completing long-distance open-ocean voyages without the aid of modern instruments. An explorer, educator, cultural revivalist and more. His impact is felt throughout the community.

“Since the 1957 inception of the award, when Daniel S. C. Liu first accepted the title, SME Honolulu has recognized over 60 leaders who have served to better the education and promotion of business in Hawai‘i,” said David C. Livingston, SME Honolulu SPOY chairperson, “We are honored to add such an important local Hawaiian figure to our list of honorees.”

The SPOY luncheon will be held April 10, 2019, at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort Hawai‘i Ballroom. Registration begins at 11 a.m. followed by the luncheon and program at 11:45 a.m.

Reservations for this year’s SPOY luncheon honoring Thompson may be made online, or by contacting Janet Scheffer at (808) 521-1160. Individual seats $125. Sponsorship tables of ten: Silver $1,750 – Gold $3,000 – Platinum $5,000. VIP dockside canoe tours of the legendary Hokule‘a and sister canoe Hikianalia will be available for each Platinum table.



New food comes to Ward Village in April 2019

Photo: Howard Hughes Corporation

Photo: Howard Hughes Corporation

In some exciting neighborhood foodie news, popular Japanese restaurant, Rinka, has relocated to Ae`o at Ward Village! Nestled on the ground floor behind Whole Foods, the spot serves its popular teishoku sets during lunch and a bigger menu, including sushi, in the evening. Frolic Hawaii recently published a glowing review of its lunch set. A private dining area is also available for your next gathering. For more information, call (808) 773-8235. Soft opening hours are Monday - Saturday 11 a.m.to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Next, if you aren't able to make it the Kakaako Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings, you can now do your shopping - and even pick up dinner - every Wednesday evening at the new Kakaako Sunset Market from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 1050 Ward Avenue! Honolulu Magazine's Martha Cheng breaks down the go-to vendors at the market here.



Honolulu Civil Beat 's "Local Artisans Are Thriving Amid Kakaako’s Condo Boom"

Art by local photographer Franco Salmoiraghi displayed in the elevator foyer at Waiea.

Art by local photographer Franco Salmoiraghi displayed in the elevator foyer at Waiea.

Development in Howard Hughes’ Ward Village has given new opportunities' for Hawaii’s local artists. Whether it is through commissions of fine local art for their condo developments or sponsoring big art events like the Honolulu Biennial 2019, Howard Hughes’ commitment to the local art scene and artists remains an integral part of their community-building strategy. Honolulu Civil Beat’s Stewart Yerton explores this effort further, and interviews local artists to get their first-hand accounts, below:

Located on a narrow side street in Kalihi, Dae Son’s Wood Hi, is a world away from the gleaming high rises and hip eateries of nearby Kakaako, but the woodshop has strong ties to the fast-growing district.

Son has a small but steady flow of business from Kakaako thanks to Miwa Yamamuro, the principal of the interior design firm Muro Designs. Yamamuro has built a thriving business designing interiors of the new luxury condos sprouting up in Kakaako and Ala Moana. And artisans like Son, as well as local artists, are part of the equation.

“It’s Hawaii,” Yamamuro says, explaining why clients want local design elements in their homes. “And they want to feel like they’re in Hawaii.”

Designer Miwa Yamamuro, principal of Muro Designs in Honolulu, has worked with woodworker Dae Son to produce art pieces for Kakaako condo projects.

Jen Toba-Davila, senior architectural designer with Philpotts Interiors, agreed that condo buyers want something uniquely expressive of Hawaii, a conversation starter or “memory maker.”

“They’re always looking for something that’s handcrafted, locally made to locally sourced,” she said.

Negative side effects of development are well known and oft-discussed: increased traffic, gentrification and heightened demand for public services like waste management, among others. But the experience of people like Yamamuro and Son shows one of the positive results: increased demand for the work of fine artists, photographers and artisans like Son, also known as “makers.”

‘A New Urban Community’

There are no data on how much work Kakaako’s condos have spun off for artists and makers. What is known is that the creative industries produce substantial jobs and income in Hawaii. According to a recent report released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, “core” arts and culture production jobs – mainly performing arts, writers, museums, arts educators and design services like Muro Designs – generated just under $340 million in income in Hawaii in 2016 and employed about 6,800 people.

That doesn’t count what the bureau calls supporting arts and cultural industries, including publishing, broadcasting and motion picture production, which employed almost 15,000 people and generated about $950 million in income in 2016.

The supporting industries have gotten a big boost from Hawaii taxpayers, who subsidize movie and television production by paying producers back as much as 25 cents for every dollar they spend on Hawaii-based projects, even for money spent out of state. While there’s no such support for most other arts and design jobs, there has been enormous private investment in Kakaako, the former light industrial neighborhood stretching from Ala Moana to the edge of downtown.

As of December, Howard Hughes Corp., a Dallas-based real estate investment trust, had either opened or was constructing 2,129 condominiums in its master-planned Ward Village project encompassing the east end of the neighborhood. That does not count properties developed at the west end and in neighborhoods on land owned by Kamehameha Schools.

And Howard Hughes’ plans envision more down the line.

The magnitude of the development is staggering. The estimated cost for Howard Hughes’ five projects alone, two of which are under construction, is approaching $2 billion, and the company reported profits of $726 million in its report to shareholders for 2018.

Honolulu photographer Franco Salmoiraghi scored a major coup with a commission to use his photographs on common spaces at Howard Hughes’ Waiea condo project.

The boom has supported a lively art scene that gives soul to what could be a stark new neighborhood. Pow! Wow!, an annual arts festival that has brought a collection of street murals to Kakaako, recently wrapped up. And the Honolulu Biennial is now underway, its main exhibition space located at Ward Village. There’s also a community of creatives in the neighborhood, working out of collective workspaces like Lana Lane Studios even as the area goes upscale.

Toba-Davila said it’s not surprising that there are still pockets of artists and makers in and near Kakaako, despite the gentrification.

“That’s what makes Kakaako so dynamic and interesting,” said Toba-Davila-Davila, who serves on the executive committee of the American Institute of Architects in Hawaii. “I hope they’re always there.”

Howard Hughes recognizes this and works to support local arts and culture in the neighborhood, said Todd Apo, senior vice president of community development at Ward Village. This includes supporting events like the biennial, hosting public art exhibits and creating affordable retail spaces for small, local businesses. As the company continues to redevelop the area, work spaces and studios for artists and makers “will continue to be a part of Ward Village,” Apo said.

“We are creating a new urban community,” said Apo, a former Honolulu City Council chairman. “And you can’t do that just by building mixed-use buildings.”

Making Connections

On a recent evening in a nondescript Kakaako warehouse exhibition space, a few dozen artists and makers gathered for a potluck. In her second-floor studio of Aupuni Space, designer Emiko Miyazawa discussed her kinetic silver jewelry inspired by Swiss watch movements and explained how she used a Japanese pottery technique to repair a moonstone ring, creating gold metallic lightning in the opalescent orb. Nearby, the sculptor Mark Chai was admiring Miyazawa’s new high-tech microscope, while SheenRu Yong, a dancer and choreographer, chatted on a sofa.

Kun Xu, a welder from the metal workshop next door, admired a painting in the hallway. Downstairs, spilling onto the sidewalk, there were more artists; a deejay, Lino “DJ Leanski” Delgado spinning tunes, and plenty of wine and hard cider.

The event was organized by Janis Ku’uipo Lee’s organization E-Merge Collective and Art World Escape, an arts tour organization founded by Paige Donnelly and Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu. Lee’s idea is to nurture a community of creatives who can exchange ideas and collaborate. She’s what the author Malcolm Gladwell describes as a classic connector, a 27-year-old artist and salon impresario who’s enhancing E-merge’s online artists’ directory with monthly potlucks.

“The foundation of the relationships is really important,” she said.

Lee’s vision is more about community than commerce, but it addresses a fundamental problem. For the artists and makers to get the most economic benefit from Kakaako’s condo boom, they somehow need to get exposure to tap into the billions of dollars being invested in the neighborhood.

Kun Xu, left, and Michelle Kaneko of Heavy Metal Inc. inspect a new door created for a Kaimuki coffee shop. Kaneko said it’s been hard to connect and create custom goods for new condo buyers despite the firm’s ability to create finely crafted metal works.

It’s a difficult task, said Michelle Kaneko, an architect who serves as the business manager for the metal works shop Heavy Metal Inc. Bill Reardon, a former Pearl Harbor welder who owns the shop, does work few others in town can, says Son, the woodworker, who has collaborated with Reardon on some expensive dining tables. But Reardon said the work from Kakaako has been scant. Kaneko said she’s not sure how to let designers and real estate agents know about Heavy Metal.

“I don’t know how to leverage that, to market that to everybody,” she said.

Connections are made largely by interior designers, who know condo buyers through real estate agents. A case in point is Maura Fujihira, co-founder of fishcake, an art gallery and furnishings shop, and an affiliated interior design company.

Fujihira and her longtime colleague Keiko Hatano, who is fishcake’s art curator, have been supporting local artists for decades. When designing a 3,000-square foot condo in Howard Hughes’ Waiea condominium project, for instance, Fujihira and Hatano included sculptures by George Woollard and John Koga, a painting by Mary Mitsuda and a large photo by Rex Maximilian.

Fujihira said such works can bring local life to spaces that otherwise could be anywhere.

“That’s what makes it special,” she said. “But you need the client who is willing and able.”

Maura Fujihira, co-founder of fishcake, says spaces such as this Kakaako penthouse can be a canvas for showing the work of Hawaii artists and craft makers.

While many of Fujihira’s clients give her the freedom to create unique spaces, Yamamuro is able to offer Hawaiian touches even in turnkey packages that include everything from furniture to linens and kitchenware. Among the handcrafted products are framed planks of polished monkeypod wood made by Son.

It’s rare, of course, for the artists and makers to be able to live in the condos. The irony’s not lost on Honolulu photographer Franco Salmoiraghi, who got a major commission from Howard Hughes that put 120 of the 77-year-old photographer’s pictures in the common areas at Waiea. The job came at a critical time when Salmoiraghi had been evicted from his long-time home in Manoa.

“It was the biggest commission I’ve ever had,” he says. “But it wasn’t enough to retire on.”