The Rise of ‘Modern’ Kailua

A businessman with a keen sense of community, Harold Castle pursued his vision for Kailua at the end of the war. Still considered ‘country’, he saw Kailua as a new Honolulu suburb that would help meet the post-war housing demand. Having ceased its cattle operations in 1942, Kaneohe Ranch lands were ripe for new homes and commercial development. Kaneohe Ranch launched a major marketing campaign in the early 1950s to lure families to the Windward side. The promise of a new four-lane, two-tunnel Pali Highway helped, too.

The ranch had sold its land at Mokapu peninsula to the U.S. Navy in 1943 for the establishment of what is now Marine Corps Base Hawaii and, always a generous philanthropist, Harold Castle donated many of his other land holdings – or sold them below market value – for new schools, churches and a much-needed hospital. Sustaining long-term growth for Kailua was an important part of Harold’s vision.

Residential subdivisions blossomed on former ranch and farm lands; mom-and-pop stores and roadside fruit stands were replaced by commercial enterprises in the growing town of Kailua; and within a decade ‘sleepy’ Kailua became Hawaii’s fastest growing community, with its population growing from about 7,700 in 1950 to more than 25,000 by 1960.

Kaneohe Ranch remained the largest landowner and developer in Kailua until December 2013, when Alexander & Baldwin, another kama‘aina company with a long history of community-building in Hawaii, purchased substantial land holdings from Kaneohe Ranch and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. They included 50 acres of commercial property, mostly in Kailua, as well as 76 acres of agriculture-zoned land and 509 acres of preservation-zoned land, also in Kailua.

A&B is committed to partnering with the community to meet the changing needs of its residents and businesses and to maintain the long-term livability, desirability and beauty of Kailua Town.