By Lisa Scontras | Photos by Justin R. Dotson
According to Blaise Nakagawa, Jr., Realtor Associate at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, what Manoa has that some other neighborhoods lack is character and charm.
"As an older established neighborhood, we have a variety of styles including homes on the Historic Registry, mansions, Manoa charmers, renovated and expanded homes, as well as homes still in their original condition waiting for someone to give them their personal touch," says Nakagawa. "People take a lot of pride in caring for their properties. Many have lived here for generations."
In addition to the University of Hawai'i, other Manoa schools include Punahou School, Mid Pacific Institute, Maryknoll, St. Francis, as well as two public elementary schools - Noelani and Manoa.
Many of the people attracted to the neighborhood are teachers, professors, administrators or families with an interest in one of the schools for their children, according to Diane Ito, Realtor at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties.
"Most of the current buyers coming into the valley are affiliated with UH, have children going to one of the private schools, and they are looking to shorten their commute from Kailua, Mililani or other outlying areas," says Ito.
With an endless flow of dog walkers, joggers and children playing in the park, Manoa's vibe is all about family life.
"The sense of community and the convenient location to schools makes the real estate here valuable," Ito says. "We have an annual Christmas parade and Easter Egg Hunt, the Manoa Theater, churches, great restaurants, banks, doctors offices, exercise classes, yoga, … you never have to leave the valley."
In fact, not too many homeowners ever do leave - many homes stay in the family for generations, which for the neighborhood means stability. For anyone wanting to buy in, it means being patient.
"Inventory is always low in Manoa," Ito adds. It's a stable community where people stay in their homes most of their lives."
"So there's always a demand for homes in Manoa," says Nakagawa. "The price is not as much of a consideration as the lifestyle."
Property values are rock solid. In 2000, the median sale price of a single-family home in Manoa was $447,500. In 2011, the median sale price was $984,592, slightly down from the peak of $1,013,000.
"You can expect to pay about 10 percent more for a home in Manoa, versus other valleys," Ito adds. "Buyers need to be patient for the right home to come available, but then be ready to jump on it, since it will not be on the market long."
"More and more, buyers are discovering the value of living in Manoa," says Nakagawa. "There is always a demand for inventory. Manoa buyers are looking for the total package: location, lifestyle, convenience and value.
"Manoa is calm, cool and collected," he says. "People still walk the neighborhood, know their neighbors and aren't afraid to say hi."
Ronald McDonald Houses
For families of children with catastrophic illnesses, both of Honolulu's two Ronald McDonald Houses (RMH) provide a home away from home during the most trying of times.
Located in lower Manoa Valley, near Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children and Shriners Hospital, the RMH on Judd Hillside and RMH on Oahu Avenue provide lodging for hundreds of families every year. In continual operation 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, the Ronald McDonald Houses ease the discomfort for families of children fighting birth-related conditions, cancer, heart problems, organ failure, major physical trauma and other life-threatening conditions. Two-thirds of the patients are under 5-years old.
The Judd Hillside home is for families with children receiving outpatient treatments or those traveling with siblings of the patient. It has served thousands of families since opening in 1987.
The Oahu Avenue home is for adult family members of children receiving in-patient care and for neighbor-island mothers-to-be in high-risk pregnancies. It began serving families in 2006.
Donations can be made online at RonaldHouseHawaii.org. For a list of wish list items always needed, including gift cards from Costco, K-Mart, Longs Drugs, cup of noodles, granola bars, Campbell's Chicken Soup, fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt, string cheese and Jell-O snack cups, go to RonaldHouseHawaii.org/wishlist. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii has McFun-Raiser Programs on the website as well.
Photo Courtesy of John Daley
Manoa Heritage Center
Tour a native Hawaiian garden, an ancient Hawaiian heiau and the Cooke Estate, preserved as a historic home. The Manoa Heritage Center conducts scheduled tours where you'll learn about the cultural history of Manoa Valley, Native Hawaiian cultural practices, uses of native plants and Polynesian introduced plants, origins of native plants, the purpose and interpretation of Kuka'o'o Heiau and heiau construction methods.
Tours are available by appointment Tuesday through Saturday, between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and are led by trained docents. Comfortable shoes are recommended as well as a hat, sunscreen and drinking water.
Manoa Valley Theatre
Founded by a group of graduate students from the Theatre Department at the University of Hawai'i, the Manoa Valley Theatre was born from a love of performing arts and a desire to entertain and enrich Hawaii's audiences and artists through the production and promotion of live theatre.
Now in its 42nd consecutive season, the Manoa Valley Theatre is one of the most celebrated theaters in Honolulu. Its focus is on contemporary mainstream Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and offering opportunities to get involved in all areas of stage production.
The curtain rises May 10 through the 27th with the Hawaii premiere of Dividing the Estate, a drama/comedy from the 2009 Broadway season, which received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play.
In June, Honk! A musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Ugly Duckling will open for a two week run from June 28 to July 15.
The annual season runs from September through August, with six or more productions per year. For more information, visit ManoaValleyTheatre.com.
Located in the heart of Manoa, the center has everything - McDonalds, Starbucks, Longs, Safeway and Bank of Hawaii. There are a rainbow of restaurants, a farmers market where you can purchase local, freshly harvested, in-season produce, a post office, laundry, yoga, two bakeries, and lots of outdoor seating to enjoy your scrumptious treats. You can even one-stop shop and do your estate planning.
"Manoa's greatest assets are the conveniences, activities, facilities and the variety of food and dining atmospheres available," says Nakagawa. "You've got Waioli Tea Room, Bangkok Chef, Nishi Moncho Ramen shop and Subway. Everything is within a few minutes walk or ride."
Malama Manoa (formerly Malama O Manoa)
Manoa's rare collection of homes, some a century old, come in the form of mansions and small cottages alike, and are perhaps the neighborhood's proudest treasures.
The mission of Malama Manoa is to preserve, protect and enhance the special qualities of Historic Manoa Valley, to promote community, and to celebrate the valley's cultural diversity and heritage.
Founded at a Manoa Neighborhood Board meeting in 1992 as the Manoa Historic Preservation Committee, the organization's name was changed to Malama O Manoa that same year. Recently, the name was shortened to Malama Manoa, but the organization's efforts remain focused on historic preservation.
"Manoa is one of the last communities to have a lot of historic homes," says Ito.
Every two years, Malama Manoa sponsors a walking tour of historic Manoa neighborhoods. On that day, historic homes are opened to the public. The collection of lovingly preserved and restored homes is usually within a mile radius so that it is easily walk-able for self-guided tours. This is a "can't miss" for those who appreciate historic preservation efforts and classical architecture. The walking tour is used as a fundraiser and attendees number in the hundreds. The tours are normally scheduled in May and the next one will be in 2013.