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Marketplace renovation to benefit Queen Emma Foudation

by Yvonne Lozano, staff writer

 

More than 130 International Marketplace shops will be left to look for new place of business.

Deborah Chavis, 23, drinks her coffee and stares out at all the people walking by the small shop her mother owns inside the International Marketplace. Paradise Music Store has been a fixture in the Marketplace for many years and offers up a diverse collection of Hawaiian and local music. Sounds of Bruddah Iz fill the air of the Marketplace as tourists often come up and ask for recommendations for a good CD or stop and stare at the Wind Devas, which she also sells, pieces of twisted, shimmering plexiglass that twirl in even the slightest wind gust.

 

“I think they should get some extra brain cells and rethink it,” she says while taking another sip of her coffee.

Chavis is talking about is the renovation of the International Marketplace slated to commence sometime in mid-2005, and which will leave more than 130 shops and kiosks looking for a new place of business. “Mom’s going to have to look for a new place,” she said. “Even if we do [find one], it’s not going to be like this.”

In September 2003, the Queen Emma Foundation announced its plan for the renovation. The project will cost between $100 million and $150 million to redevelop the 4.5 acres of prime, Waikiki land. Once the Marketplace is renovated, it is will have 230,000 square feet, which is approximately 50,000 square feet more than it currently has (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 2003). Foundation president, Mark Hastert, has said that the purpose of the renovation is to bring back the days of Old Waikiki, such as when Don the Beachcomber’s was the premier restaurant and locals and visitors intermingled through Waikiki’s streets. In a Pacific Business News interview (2004) Hastert said: “We’re talking about bringing back the history and previous lives of Waikiki in various eras. We’re going back to the roots of Waikiki.”

When the renovated Marketplace re-opens sometime in 2007, it will no longer be a clutter of kiosks and shops (Pacific Business News, 2004), but a renovated three-story retail complex that will surround a central open air gathering place that will include a hula mound and an amphitheater for performances, which currently are conducted in the food court. A Kupuna Story Hearth will also be included for those who want to learn the history and stories of old Waikiki. This will undoubtedly put a face to every street name in Waikiki. An artificial stream will run through the Marketplace, in commemoration of the Apuakehau Stream, that used to circle Queen Emma’s gardens and that now runs beneath Kai’ulani Avenue. A boardwalk beside the stream will connect Kuhio Avenue to Kalakaua Avenue, inviting visitors into and through the new International Marketplace. The centerpiece of the Marketplace will remain the 150-year-old banyan tree.

Although some vendors agree that it is time for repairs to the nearly 50-year-old Marketplace, there have also been disagreements. Many for those who have come to see the Marketplace as a second home, a place where the neighboring kiosk is not a competitor, but more like, well, a neighbor.

“ It’s the mom and pop stores that make IMP,” said Chavis. There is “no pointin trying to recreate a 50s feel,” she continued, “because it is more authentic now.”

Shantelle Muller, a sales associate for Maui Divers Jewelry, welcomes the renovation. “I am for it,” she said. “There are so many areas that are dilapidated and a danger to customers and employees. There are huge dead branches that fall and miss customers by inches.”

Some of the shops and kiosks will be invited to return to the Marketplace, but not all will be so fortunate. Hastert looks to fill the new complex with retail stores that will carry out the Marketplace’s initial mission set by Donn “The Beachcomber” Beach back in 1955, when he announced the opening of a “Waikiki Village” that would serve as the crossroads where visitors could enjoy the diversity Hawaii has to offer.

Is it possible to bring back the romance and charm of Old Waikiki? While Muller believes it is, Chavis doubts it. “It’s never going to happen, “she said. “Instead of a one story clutter, it’s going to be a three story clutter.” She continued: “Old Waikiki is just that...Old.”

 

 

2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved. 
 
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