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Miami – Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was presented today with a City Livability Award for Outstanding Achievement by the US Conference of Mayors at its annual meeting.


The award recognized the City’s outstanding vision and leadership in revitalizing Honolulu’s historic Chinatown to attract artists and new businesses, while preserving this vibrant neighborhood’s unique culture.


            “I’m very proud that Chinatown and our hard work to foster its revitalization were honored by the nation’s mayors with this prestigious award,” Mayor Hannemann said. “Chinatown is a very special place, and it is quickly becoming a major center of arts and culture for Hawaii and the Pacific.”


Mayor Hannemann took a keen interest in Chinatown’s revitalization during his tenure as a member of the City Council, and has continued his efforts as Mayor.


Under Hannemann’s leadership, the Council in 1997 designated Chinatown an “Art Enterprise Zone.” Incentives provided through this arrangement, and the assistance of the Hawaii Arts Alliance, led to the formation of the pioneering ARTS at Marks Garage (ARTS), which quickly became a magnet that attracted other arts businesses.


In partnership with the City, ARTS launched the “First Fridays Gallery Walk” that now draws 5,000 to 10,000 people to Chinatown in a single night each month. Mayor Hannemann then fortified Chinatown’s resurgence by convening the first-ever Chinatown Economic Summit in June 2006, resulting in new City-community partnerships focusing on improving Chinatown’s physical environment, enhancing its quality of life, and boosting economic activities.


In addition to his continued interest in enhancing public safety in Chinatown, initiatives that have helped with the neighborhood’s revitalization were:


·        “Bright Ideas” Mini-Grants: The City leveraged $20,000 from the Ford Foundation, with matching funds from five local banks to solicit the community’s ideas for revitalizing Chinatown. Over 130 entries were received and the top ten were awarded $4,000 grants.


·        Unified Celebrations for the annual “Month in Chinatown”: City-led collaboration with multiple Chinese organizations have resulted in a spectacular “Month in Chinatown” celebration of Chinese New Year. Events included a unified calendar of events, website, parade, evening of Lion dances, street fairs, month-long entertainment, food, and arts, and a full-color guidebook with pins offering discounts at participating restaurants and businesses.  The unified effort continues to strengthen relationships between groups, maximize resources for each organization, minimize City resources, and deliver better information to the community. Under Mayor Hannemann’s guidance, the combined celebration has become a must-see attraction and continues to become bigger and better every year.


·        Free WiFi: City partnership with a local internet service provider to deliver free WiFi throughout Chinatown was launched in October 2007. Intended to attract more people into Chinatown, statistics have shown an average of over 350 daily users.


·        Small Business Resource Center: City-sponsored center in Chinatown housing non-profit small business services providing free business training and counseling.


·        First Transitional Housing Project: City partnership with a non-profit to transform an aging City-owned property into Chinatown’s first transitional housing to serve the area’s homeless.


·        Kukui Childrens’ Center: $3.5-million Community Development Block Grant from the City to develop a center for families and abused children which will serve as a model center for Hawaii.


·        2nd Arts Incubator for Digital Media: Continued partnership between the City with ARTS secured a $125,000 EDA planning grant for a 2nd arts incubator focusing on digital media.


·        First-ever Preserve America Grant: On-going City partnership with the Hawaii Arts Alliance secured a first-ever $150,000 Preserve America grant to be matched with City funds for heritage tourism infrastructure to properly present Chinatown’s heritage and culture to visitors.


·        Park and Statue Dedication: City partnership with the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Hawaii Foundation, and Sister-City Zhongshan in commemoration of the 10th anniversary celebration of Honolulu’s relationship with Zhongshan and honoring Dr. Sun Yat-sen, “the father of modern China.” With an official delegation from Zhongshan present through Mayor Hannemann’s personal invitation on his last sister-city mission to China, a statue of Dr. Sun as a young boy, a $150,000 gift from the Foundation was dedicated.  The park was renamed to “Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park” to convey Dr. Sun’s special link to Honolulu. Dr. Sun had received his high school diploma from Iolani School, which was also Mayor Hannemann’s alma mater.


Contact: Bill Brennan, 527-6928
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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