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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Kalakaua-Kapi'olani businesses fear eviction

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Some of the businesses on a one-acre parcel across from the Hawai'i Convention Center are trying to decide how to respond to Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris' plan to condemn the properties.

Harris is moving forward with a plan to acquire five properties and a portion of a street next to them. He envisions scenic landscaping with a low-rise development to replace the aging buildings there.

The lots are on the 'ewa/mauka corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Kapi'olani Boulevard. The mayor has included $6 million in the city budget to buy the properties — $250,000 to be used for moving, design and building a landscaped area.

The businesses include the popular strip bar Club Rock-Za, the restaurant Moa Mua Tei and a building that contains several businesses including Da Hui, an upscale surf shop that has been open only four months.

Harris is intends to create a "gateway to Waikiki" area within about a half-mile radius around the convention center. The plan would not allow strip clubs, hostess bars and other adult businesses. City officials estimated at least 20 such businesses would be affected.

Club Rock-Za manager Tammy Spragling said she concluded that her business would face opposition from the time the convention center opened across the street.

But she said she doesn't think it's fair to force all the strip clubs and bars to move farther from Waikiki area since there's clearly a market for the business.

Tammy Spragling, manager of Club Rock-Za, says that as far as she can recall, her business location has has always been the home of a strip bar.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Spragling, whose business employs about 50 to 60 people, said there has been a strip club on the property for as long as she can remember. She estimates that about half of the customers are tourists, the rest residents.

"No one's in the building unless they want to be," she said. If the city forces them out, Spragling said, Rock-Za and the other popular clubs will find someplace else to continue operating.

Da Hui floor manager Carson Soares said he can't understand why the city would take legal action that would shut down the new store. He points to the bright blue paint and murals, the bamboo trim carefully decorating the shop.

"We're a surf shop," Soares said. "Waikiki is all about surf."