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Kailua Village Business Improvement District upping the fun

Updated: 
January 10, 2014 - 10:13pm

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 both residents and visitors.

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 visitors and those who call Kona home, Debbie Baker, district executive director, and Eric von Platen Luder, district board of directors president, told West Hawaii Today.

“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 a weekly Tuesday Trot 5K Run &Walk and scheduled free Kailua Kanikapila Community Picnic in April, ticketed May Day Brunch on the Bay in May, free July 4th Family Floatilla and Concert 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 Independence Day events.

The district is also working to secure a Department of Land and Natural Resources permit 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 $30,000 Hawaii Tourism Authority Community Product Enrichment Program grant.

“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 including the monthly Kokua Kailua village stroll, launched in mid-2008, the annual Kailua Kalikimaka, which began in 2009, and Kau Kau Kailua, which began in 2010, Baker and von Platen Luder said.

“We’ve realized tremendous success with the events,” Baker said. “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 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 and planning and designing for a new park at Kailua Playground. It’s also sponsored or supported the Keauhou-Historic Kailua Village shuttle, Kokua Kailua, Kailua Kalikimaka and the designation of Alii Drive as a Hawaii Scenic Byway.

In addition, the district has 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 recently named the top U.S. destination on the rise by TripAdvisor.com, the world’s largest travel site.

For more information, including a calendar of events, visit historickailuavillage.com. Follow the business improvement district on Facebook at facebook.com/historickailuavillage.

Come join the fun

Weekly: The Tuesday Trot 5K Run & Walk is held every week at 5 p.m. The fun, noncompetitive and free event, coordinated by Big Island Running Co., begins at Coconut Grove Marketplace and traverses through the village area before runners turn around at the Makaeo Events pavilion and head back toward Coconut Grove Marketplace.

Monthly: Kokua Kailua is held one Sunday each month and features musicians, artists, merchants and restaurants along Alii Drive from 1 to 6 p.m. Kokua Kailua events are planned: Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 16, April 13, May 18, June 8, July 20, Aug. 24, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and Dec. 14.

Special events

• In April, celebrate Hawaiian music and culture with food, booths and talk story and jam sessions during the Kailua Kanikapila Community Picnic. The event will also feature arts and crafts for all ages.

• In May, honor the traditions of Hawaii with song, dance, lei and food during the May Day Brunch on the Bay. Tickets go on sale in March.

• In July, celebrate the nation’s birthday with the July 4th Family Floatilla and Concert. A community parade and fireworks follow the free event.

• In September, Kau Kau Kailua offers deals at participating restaurants in the Kailua Village area. A Historic Kailua Village Luau is also planned with tickets going on sale in August.

• In December, get into the holiday spirit with Kailua Kalikimaka, which includes the annual tree lighting and holiday events in the village area.