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NATION’S MAYORS RECOGNIZE

CITY’S CHINATOWN REVITALIZATION PROGRAM

 

            Mayor Mufi Hannemann will accept a “Best Practice in City Livability” award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Waste Management during the First Friday festivities on September 5, 7:00 p.m., at the ARTS at Marks Garage.

 

            Presenting the award will be Jocelyn Bogen, director of the City Livability Award Program of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and Barbara Nussa, corporate director with Waste Management.  The awards were announced in June at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 2008 summer meeting in Miami.

 

            Mayor Hannemann said, “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.  Chinatown is a very special place, and it is quickly becoming a major center of arts and culture for Hawaii and the Pacific.”

 

The winning cities were selected by former mayors from a pool of over 200 applicants.  Honolulu won in the category of cities with populations of 100,000 or more, one of only four municipalities so honored.

 

            For the past 29 years, cities have competed for this prestigious award, which recognizes mayoral leadership for developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities.  The program focuses on mayoral leadership, creativity and innovation, and broad impact on the lives of city residents.

 

Tom Cochran, Executive Director and CEO of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said, “Our City Livability Awards Program gives the conference a chance to highlight mayoral leadership in making urban areas cleaner, safer, and more livable.  We are grateful to Waste Management for its 19 years of support of the City Livability Awards Program, and for the opportunity to showcase the creativity and commitment of mayors and city governments across the country.”

 

Barry H. Caldwell, Vice President of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications for Waste Management, Inc., said, “Waste Management is committed to making a difference for our employees, our customers, the environment, and the communities we serve.  We have dedicated our experience and resources to creating and maintaining a successful, long-standing partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  I am proud that Waste Management is the sponsor of the City Livability Awards.  This year's honorees represent yet another group of resourceful and innovative mayors, helping to make their communities and the nation a better place to live and work.  We heartily applaud their efforts.”

 

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 criteria for Art Enterprise Zones.  Incentives provided by this designation, 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,  resulting in Chinatown’s becoming a true Arts Enterprise Zone.

 

Chinatown today has 39 art galleries, more than 50 restaurants, chic specialty shops, and trendy clubs and lounges.  The arts sector has attracted interest among art buyers locally and even internationally and stimulated business for area businesses.

 

In partnership with the City, ARTS launched the “First Fridays Gallery Walk” that now has the enthusiastic participation of the area’s merchants and gallery owners and 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 and services 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, 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 Wi-fi:  City partnership with a local internet service provider to deliver free wi-fi throughout Chinatown was launched in October 2007.  Intended to attract more people into Chinatown, statistics have shown an average of over 350 daily users.  Yesterday (September 4), Mayor Hannemann joined executives of CB Richard Ellis to announce the deployment of more free wi-fi.  CBRE is adding a number of its properties to Honolulu’s network, including Harbor Court, Model Progress, Oceanview Center, and Haseko Center in the downtown area, as well as several more sites in the Ala Moana-Waikiki area.

 

  • 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:  A site has been selected and an RFP will be issued shortly inviting interested parties to apply.

 

  • First-ever Preserve America Grant:  Ongoing 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 is also Mayor Hannemann’s alma mater.

 

  • River Street:  The City recently removed the trellises along River Street after business people, residents, and others complained that the shady areas were being used by drug dealers and others.

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Media contact: Alenka Remec, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development,  523-4249

 

Friday, September 05, 2008

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