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Centers of Financial Activities: HNL, ANC, SJ?!?!

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New York has Wall Street, San Francisco has Montgomery Street but what about the three largest cities in the region? Where are their "Centers of Financial Activities?."

...In Honolulu its Bishop Street: 'If you want to be a player ...'.


Source: Pacific Business News

Bishop Street's clout as a business address is hard to overstate, despite the increasing pain of parking headaches.

It's home to the state's tallest building -- the 30-story First Hawaiian Center, which climbs the sky over 999 Bishop St. It is the headquarters for the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii as well as the Hawaii State Bar Association.

Primary source of wealth

And for more than a century, the city's wealth has flowed from the street's architectural wonders and symbols of economic might.

That prosperity has defined the street, which bustles with professionals who pack downtown office towers above gleaming stores that offer gourmet coffee and other trendy delights.

As the pace of development quickens, a cornerstone remains the headquarters of Alexander & Baldwin Inc., a 77-year-old building in the 800 block of Bishop Street.

CEO Allen Doane, whose corner office is on the building's fourth floor, said through a spokesperson that the company has never considered moving or selling the building.

It's the company's way of paying tribute to its founders.

Officially, Bishop Street boasts 16 buildings that cover 4.4 million square feet, or more than half of Honolulu's central business district.

The street has about a 6.8 percent vacancy rate, said Mike Hamasu, director of consulting and research for Colliers Monroe Friedlander. By contrast, the entire downtown district is seeing an 8.5 percent vacancy rate.

For obvious reasons, a landlord like First Hawaiian Bank, whose corporate headquarters overlooks Honolulu Harbor, can command as much as $3.50 per square foot. Mostly everyone else charges an average rent of about $2.60 per square foot.

"Somebody looking to be in our building is not looking for the best price in town," said Jim Wayman, senior vice president of First Hawaiian Bank. "They are looking to be in the best building in town."

Wayman points to the First Hawaiian Center's 98 percent occupancy rate as proof of the building's appeal to tenants who do everything from work out together in a health club in its basement to mix it up over beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres in the Banker's Club on the top floor.

By most accounts, linking Bishop Street to any business in Honolulu these days gets people to take notice.

'If you want to be a player ...'

Ross Murakami, managing partner of accounting firm KMH, which is perched on the 29th floor of an office tower in the 700 block of Bishop Street, affirms what appears to be conventional wisdom in Honolulu's corporate world.

"If you want to be a player in this town, you have to be on Bishop Street," Murakami said. "If you're not on it, it takes away from your prestige."

Ben Schorr, the chief executive of technology consultant Roland Schorr & Tower, said that was his primary motivation for wanting a Bishop Street address for the company he and his partners launched eight months ago.

"It helps our image as a high-end firm," said Schorr, whose clients are mainly lawyers and architects.

Steven M. Baldridge, president of Baldridge & Associates Structural Engineering Inc., one of Hawaii's 50 fastest-growing small companies, cites customer preferences for moving to the 1100 block of Bishop Street eight years ago.

Baldridge, who designs buildings that can withstand terrorist attacks and even natural disasters such as a tsunami, estimates that 75 percent of his clients are on Bishop Street or a block away from it.

"The prestige of a Bishop Street address has helped us," Baldridge said. "The only problem is parking. It's disappearing and that has had a negative impact on more people coming to visit us."

The location of Anchorage and San Juan's Financial Districts will be posted as soon as I find out where they are located. hehe :P

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Well, I don't have pics, but I'm sure that boricuaso have a lot of pics from Hato Rey.

Let's see when he/she come back to the forums. :)

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