21 January 2024

Ka Makana Ali'i, Kapolei, HI

 An extant asset

In 1979 when we first moved to Hawai’i, the leeward side of O’ahu was a much different place than it is now.  Between our exit from interstate H1 in Waipahu and our home in ‘Ewa Beach, there was only the two-lane Fort Weaver Road.  The drive was long and tedious (or so it seemed to my five-year-old brain) while we were surrounded by nothing more than acre after acre of sugar cane.

Center court and the main concourse of Ka Makana Ali'i.

As far as shopping options went, in our small town there was really only the ‘Ewa Beach Shopping Center and its Woolworth anchors.  There was a general merchandise as well as a dedicated clothing location- the only time I had ever seen one.  But for anything more substantial, a trip halfway across the island to Pearlridge Center in Aiea was in order.

Ka Makana Ali'i Mallmanac ca. 2017. View the full PDF version here.

Of course, a lot has changed since then.  It wasn’t long before Fort Weaver was upgraded to a four-lane highway and not long after all of the sugar cane was removed and supplanted by sprawling subdivisions and strip malls.  For the longest time, however, the island’s leeward side still lacked a large shopping anchor.  That changed when Ka Makana Ali’i was built in the fast-growing suburb of Kapolei.

Inside Ka Makana Ali'i.

Ka Makana Ali’i, translated to The Royal Gift, was built on some of this land that was once home to the fields of sugar cane.  In fact, old railroad tracks that used to haul the precious bounty still lie just to the south of the shopping facility, with the Hawaiian Railway Society still offering occasional rides on restored locomotives.

1- Macy's.  2- The front exterior of the mall.  3- H&M.  4- the northeastern entrance.

West O’ahu’s first shopping mall opened in 2016 as an open-air shopping mall on Kapolei Parkway.  Anchored by Macy’s, a Consolidated Theater and a Hampton Inn and Suites, this was the first phase of what is planned to be a 1.5 million square foot mixed use facility.  In addition to the anchors, other major names include H&M and Old Navy. 

Ka Makana Ali'i Mallmanac ca. 2018. View the full PDF version here.

Located just to the south of the southern terminus of the island’s Skyline Light Rail, the retail complex is well connected to the rest of O’ahu’s urban areas.  Well, at least to Aloha Stadium.  That is, until the rest is built, but going by island time, who knows when that will ever happen.  Plans say 2031 for it to be complete, but the portion that just opened this year was supposed to debut nearly a decade ago.

The story of Ka Makana Ali'i.

Being the only significant retail property on the west side of the island, Ka Makana Ali’i attracts large crowds and serves as a community center for the locals living in the Leeward suburbs.  Though it is worth a visit and I do appreciate that it was built, I’ll always prefer Aiea’s Mall of my Youth, good ole Pearlridge.

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