Okinawa Center To Expand Its Operations

Wednesday - September 02, 2009
By Kerry Miller
E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS | Share

The theme of Hawaii United Okinawa Association’s expansion project is “Ikuyu Madin,” which means “building from generation to generation,“and it’s definitely coming through loud and clear in its plans.

The city Department of Planning and Permitting accepted a zone-change application in June from the HUOA to build the Hawaii Okinawa Plaza at 94-1042 Ka Uka Blvd., currently a vacant lot across the street from the nonprofit’s office, the Hawaii Okinawa Center (HOC). HUOA plans to construct a commercial complex and a two-story parking structure to serve area residents, industrial park tenants, the regional market and internal businesses. The parking structure specifically will provide overflow parking and possibly more meeting space for the HUOA.


Additional parking, explained HUOA Capitol Campaign Project (CCP) chairman Alan Chinen, was the original reason for the expansion, but after the planning started, the project evolved into something more.

“The CCP started several years back in 2004 primarily to purchase the adjacent property. The idea was to add additional parking. As we moved forward, we looked at how can we develop the property for future generations,” said Chinen.“As we got closer into production,we evolved, worked on a business plan, started to look at the potential of of the building.”

The long-range plan, he added, is to have a revenue stream to support future activities at the center as well as have more parking.

Currently, the site is zoned for I-2, light industrial use. However, the process has started to convert to an IMAX zone - for professional use, like for a doctor’s office, attorney’s office or a bank.

In July 2006, the 1.99-acre site was purchased with $3.5 million borrowed from the USDA. The initial project goal was to raise $9 million to buy the land and start initial construction of the new building.So far,the organization has raised $4.6 million and as a short-term goal is hoping to make it to $5.5 million to be able to start the actual construction.

To help raise these funds, Chinen said, a couple of fundraising projects are coming up. The first is the 27th annual Okinawan Festival this Saturday and Sunday at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki.The festival is from 9 5 p.m. both days and features local Okinawan performance groups, musicians, cultural exhibits, food and more. For more information on the Okinawan Festival, visit

At the festival, the group kicks off its “9-9-9"campaign, something Chinen explained is “a fun way to get people involved. They can make out donation checks dated for 9/9/09, made out for amounts $9.99 or $99.99. The money we generate helps to support cultural activities for the future.”

The number nine symbolizes “everlasting"and “perpetuating” as well as good luck for Okinawans, explained Karen Kuba-Hori of the HUOA. And because the building of the new facility is to serve future generations, that’s why it’s so significant for this project.

“We ran a similar campaign last year, utilizing the number eight. Eight is like the everlasting knot (symbol). This year is also an auspicious date, so we’re tying it to that number,” said Kuba-Hori.

As a matter of fact, on Sept. 9, HUOA will host an informal gathering for some special guests at the HOC in Waipio, featuring art and cultural exhibits and live entertainment.

The existing HUOA center houses a banquet room and administration offices. It’s widely used in the community as a place for clubs to meet and/or practice, as well as for birthdays and weddings.

“It’s one way the Okinawan organization can share with the community our heritage and culture,” said Chinen.

HOC opened as the home for HUOA in 1990, the year of the 90th anniversary of Okinawan immigration to Hawaii. The nonprofit’s mission is to preserve, promote and perpetuate Okinawan culture. It is made up of 48 member clubs and governed by a board of directors. The organization’s website is

E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS

Most Recent Comment(s):

Posting a comment on requires a free registration.



Auto Login

Forgot Password

Sign Up for MidWeek newsletter Times Supermarket



Hawaii Luxury

Tiare Asia and Alex Bing
were spotted at the Sugar Ray's Bar Lounge