Blaisdell Arts Center

The City and County of Honolulu has been selected by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership to participate in its fellowship program under the leadership of Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Part of the program will provide the city with technical assistance on creating a vibrant culture and arts district anchored by iconic redevelopment of the Blaisdell Center performing arts and exhibition complex.

Blaisdell Arts Center

On March 7, 2014, Members of the Urban Land Institute’s Rose Center for Public Leadership presented initial findings and recommendations on creating a vibrant culture and arts district anchored by iconic redevelopment of the Blaisdell Center performing arts and exhibition complex.

You may see the slides from the presentation here>>>

You can also view the entire presentation on ŌleloNet >>>

Area to be Studies

Area to be Studied

The City and County of Honolulu owns and operates the 22.4-acre Neal Blaisdell Center in the heart of urban Honolulu. The Blaisdell Center complex includes a multi-purpose arena, an exhibition hall, a concert hall, meeting rooms, and structured parking. It is a major gathering place for performances and community events.

Most facilities on the site were built in 1964 and are facing increasing maintenance and renovation needs. Meanwhile, the exhibition and meeting spaces must compete with newer, more accessible facilities, and the arena struggles for bookings.

The Blaisdell Center complex is situated in the Kaka’ako Community Development District—a redevelopment area governed by the State of Hawaii—and several blocks from a future rail transit station. This area is experiencing tremendous change and development, with thousands of new multifamily housing units being planned or constructed.

Adjacent neighborhood assets include historic Thomas Square Park, the Honolulu Museum of Art (and the Art School), McKinley High School, and Straub Hospital. Although currently isolated destinations, there is potential for the Blaisdell redevelopment to pull them together and catalyze a cohesive district. This broader approach could also improve connections to the Hawaii Capital District and Ala Moana Beach Park.

The city will soon be selecting a consultant team to help craft a vision for a cultural and entertainment venue at the Blaisdell Center site that has self-sustaining revenue generation. This planning effort will determine the community’s goals, recommend a program of uses and conceptual design, and seek out potential development partners.

The Rose Center’s presentation on March 7 was a preliminary plan, including working with neighboring property owners and neighborhood institutions and providing insights from other successful districts and financially sustainable projects as well as recommendations for public-private partnership options for the site redevelopment.

Rose Center will continue to work with the city through Fall, 2014 to refine and enact the plan, with a final report to be issued at the end of the year.

Honolulu’s Rose Center Faculty Advisors for the 1-Year Honolulu Study Project

AndreBrumfield-199x300Andre Brumfield
President, Brumfield Design + Planning
Chicago, Illinois

Andre Brumfield is president of Brumfield Design + Planning in Chicago, Illinois. Previously, he was Principal in Charge of Urban Design and Planning for AECOM Design + Planning’s Chicago office. He applies his broad experience in the fields of urban design, planning and architecture to focus on neighborhood redevelopment, urban revitalization and the redevelopment of the inner city.

Mr. Brumfield has addressed urban design and planning issues in a variety of neighborhood and community development plans, downtown mixed-use projects, large-scale, high density urban infill projects, brownfield redevelopment and regional master planning efforts. Andre Brumfield’s current practice is dedicated to developing creative planning solutions to address these issues.



8194139684_4a722f79eb_n-199x300Christopher Kurz
President and CEO, Linden Associates, Inc.

Baltimore, Maryland

Christopher W. Kurz is currently President and CEO of Linden Associates, Inc., a regional real estate services and mortgage banking company engaged in the financing, acquisition, development and management of commercial property.  The firm also consults for corporations on real estate matters.  Previously, he was a Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of McGill Development Company, which grew into the fourth largest commercial real estate development company in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area.  Kurz served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Co-Founder of Columbia Bancorp and The Columbia Bank that is a $500 million, publicly traded bank holding company. As a Principal at Alex Brown Real Estate Group, Inc. he acquired investments for pension fund clients. Other companies with which Kurz has been involved include J.G. Smithy Company, Maryland National Corporation, and the Rouse Company.

Kurz holds a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  Some of his professional affiliations include memberships in the Urban Land Institute where he has been a member of the national leadership group, Chair of the Baltimore District Council, Vice-Chair of the Small Scale Blue Development Council, and a National Program Committee member. He is also a member of the international Council of Shopping Centers, past member of NAIOP, the Mortgage Bankers Association and past board member of the Catherine McAuley Housing Foundation in Denver.

 Other Panelists for the Study Visit and March 7 Presentation

Brad Beaubien, Planning Administrator, Department of Metropolitan Development, Indianapolis and Marion County, IN

Glenda Hood, Partner, triSect, LLC, Orlando, FL

Ian Lockwood, Principal, AECOM, Orlando, FL

Maura Sullivan, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, City of Memphis, TN

Leah Treat, Director, Bureau of Transportation, City of Portland, OR

Ginger White-Brunetti, Deputy Director, Department of Arts & Venues, City & County of Denver, CO

Roger Williams, Principal, RW & Associates, LLC, Potomac, MD

Additional panelists TBD

Participating Honolulu Rose Center Fellows

 Ember Shin
Managing Director
City & County of Honolulu

Ember Shinn is the managing director of the City and County of Honolulu. Shinn has worked as an attorney and administrator for private and public entities for over thirty years.Born and raised in Hawaii, Shinn graduated from the University of Hawaii. She moved to California to attend the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. After receiving her law degree, she practiced law in California for over 20 years. She represented public and private entities in public law and employment litigation. She served as General Counsel for Oakland Unified School District and the Peralta Community College District.Shinn returned home to Hawaii in 2001, retired from the practice of law, and worked for the State House of Representatives as staff attorney for the Judiciary Committee and as special assistant and Chief of Staff for the Speaker of the House. In 2010, she served as executive assistant to then acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell.




Robert Iopa
President & Principal

WCIT Architecture
Honolulu, Hawaii

Specializing in planning, entitlements and design, Rob lopa has honed his craft through years of experience with several noteworthy firms, including for the past decade with his own, WCIT Architecture. Throughout his career Iopa has led and participated in the development of projects throughout Asia, South America, the South Pacific, and all of the major Islands of Hawaii.Under Iopa’s leadership and direction, WCIT Architecture has grown from a startup group into one of the largest firms in the State with an impressive international clientele. Iopa was named one of Hawaii’s brightest young leaders (40 under 40) by Pacific Business News, one of the State’s most Influential Leaders for the Next Twenty-Five Years (25 for the next 25) by Hawaii Business Magazine and the 2008 SBA Business Person of the Year for the City and County of Honolulu.Currently, he maintains a lead role in all of the firm’s projects and heads the design effort for over a dozen projects in Hawaii including the Princess Kaiulani Hotel Redevelopment, the International Marketplace, UH Hilo College of Hawaiian Language, UH Hilo College of Pharmacy, and the master planning efforts for Ward Villages, Turtle Bay Resort, Makena and Hanalei Plantation Resort. Some of Iopa’s most notable completed projects include the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort, Honua Kai Resort, the Ritz Carlton Kapalua Bay Club & Residences and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel historic renovation to name a few.A native Hawaiian born and raised in Hilo, he is a respected advocate and creative interpreter of culture, most notably that of the host Hawaiian culture, but also that of the diverse ethnicities of Hawaii. Through this skill set, Iopa demonstrates a unique ability to plan, design and implement sophisticated and complex development proposals and sustainable strategies—proposals and strategies that strive to create uniquely special places and environments that are rooted in the Hawaiian way of life.Iopa has a Bachelor of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, is an adjunct professor at the UH-Manoa School of Architecture and served on the AlA Honolulu Board of Directors.

Atta Photo

George Atta

Department of Planning and Permitting
City & County of Honolulu
Honolulu, Hawaii

George Atta was appointed Director of the Department of Planning and Permitting at the City & County of Honolulu by Mayor Caldwell in 2013. He provides leadership, administration, and management for a department of 300 employees in areas relating to long-range planning; building and construction; traffic and engineering, land use and development, and commercial/ residential enforcement.From 1988 to 2013, Atta was a principal, partner, and project manager at Group 70 in Honolulu, where he provided leadership for transit design plans, public facilities, environmental assessment/ EIS documents, and various land use permit applications. He also coordinated community advisory groups and public meetings, as well as managing project scheduling, budgets and consultant coordination. Areas of specialization included public facilities, historical/cultural landscapes, resource management, land use compatibility, wetlands delineation, environmental inspections and disaster planning and mitigation.Atta has an M.S. City and Regional Planning from Harvard University, a Professional Diploma in Education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a B.A. Liberal Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional, and a Certified Environmental Inspector of the Environmental Assessment Association.


The Honorable Kirk Caldwell

City & County of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii

Mayor Kirk Caldwell was born in Waipahu and raised in Hilo, the oldest son of a plantation and country doctor.He studied Urban Planning and Economics at Tufts University, earned an MA. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and received his law degree from the UH William S. Richardson School of Law.Caldwell was managing partner at the law firm of Ashford and Wriston, and began his public service career in 2002, when he was elected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives, and quickly rose to become the House Majority Leader.Caldwell was appointed managing director for the City and County of Honolulu in January 2009, and served as acting Mayor in 2010. He was elected the 14th Mayor of Honolulu November 2012 and assumed office on January 2, 2013.