Sunday | June 26, 2016
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Kailua association aims to boost village area

The Kailua Village Business Improvement District — tasked with making historic Kailua Village a better place to live, work, play and invest — is rolling out a new series of events and activities, in addition to its mainstays, that it hopes will promote the downtown area to residents and visitors alike.

From a weekly fun run/walk to a community picnic or a family water event on the Fourth of July, the new events and activities are designed to distinguish historic Kailua Village as “a destination like no other” for both visitors and those who call Kona home, Debbie Baker, district executive director, and Eric von Platen Luder, district board of directors president, told Stephens Media Hawaii.

“Part of our strategic plan really focused on fostering a sense of community, and you’ll see that in all of the events — they are targeted at our residents and of course we’re going to market them to visitors as well but we really want residents to come back to the village and celebrate that special place,” Baker explained.

She added later, “they all are designed to highlight the cultural elements that all of us love and feel nostalgic about in historic Kailua Village.”

The new events are the weekly Tuesday Trot 5K Run &Walk and a free Kailua Kanikapila Community Picnic in April, ticketed May Day Brunch on the Bay in May, free July 4th Family Floatilla and Concert on July 4, and ticketed Historic Kailua Village Luau in September.

Though still being fine-tuned, the KVBID officials divulged some details on the events, including that they will all be held outside, feature Hawaiian music and work to bring people to the village core to celebrate the culture and history of the area.

“We have thousands of people that come down for the parade so we are trying to extend that day and give families something to do all throughout the day while they wait for the parade and then fireworks in the evening,” Baker explained about the July 4 events.

The district is also working to secure a Department of Land and Natural Resources to hold the September luau, for which a date has yet to be concreted, on Kailua Pier.

“It should be fantastic,” Baker said.

The new events — with the exception of those requiring tickets — are funded via a Hawaii Tourism Authority Community Product Enrichment Program grant that totaled $30,000.

“In the past our budget didn’t really allow it,” Von Platen Luder said, noting the recent economic recession. “But through receiving this grant we were able to start engaging the community and getting more activities down in the village.”

The events build upon the business improvement district’s mainstay events like the monthly Kokua Kailua village stroll, launched in mid-2008, and the annual Kailua Kalikimana, which began in 2009, and Kau Kau Kailua, which began in 2010, events, Baker and von Platen Luder said.

“We’ve realized tremendous success with the events,” Baker touted. “Now, the monthly stroll attracts between 4,000 and 5,000 people every month and many, many, many of those are residents that have come back down into the village.

Baker and von Platen Luder hope the new events will have a positive economic impact on businesses, which pay into the improvement district via a tax, by bringing more people to the area.

“There are many opportunities for shopping, for dining,” she said about drawing people to the village. That came after noting the district’s first Tuesday Trot drew more than three dozen people into the Kailua Village area.

The Kailua Village Business Improvement District was established in 2007 by Hawaii County ordinance to collaborate with business, government and area residents to develop and implement creative solutions to improve the village area. Funding is derived from taxpayers within the business improvement district who pay, depending on zone, $1.75 per $1,000 in assessed property value or 58 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value.

Before the creation of the district, “the physical appearance and general ambience in and around Historic Kailua Village had noticeably deteriorated. So much so that visitors and residents avoided coming to town as it was perceived as dirty and crime ridden. Not only did the decline have a negative impact on businesses, the quality of life was diminished for those who live here. The appreciation for the historical and cultural significance of the area was weakened as well,” reads the district’s five-year strategic plan, which was completed in June 2013 and is effective through 2018.

Since its inception, the business improvement district has completed an array of projects aimed at improving the downtown Kailua Village area. Among the projects completed were installing security cameras, providing for janitorial and security services, installing trash receptacles and publication racks, studying parking issues, planning and designing for a new park at Kailua Playground. It’s also sponsored/supported the Keauhou-Historic Kailua Village shuttle, Kokua Kailua, Kailua Kalikimaka and the designating of Alii Drive as a Hawaii Scenic Byway.

In addition, the district has also worked to develop a brand for the village area that combines the “rich history, culture and traditions with spectacular nature, remarkable recreational opportunities and a legendary peaceful experience” and a website that draws 1,000 unique visitors monthly.

Kailua-Kona was also recently named the top U.S. destination on the rise by, the world’s largest travel site.

For more information, including a calendar of events, visit Follow the business improvement district on Facebook at

Email Chelsea Jensen at


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