Market Place makeover to keep Waikiki heritage
By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
The foundation plans to demolish the aging retail landmark in the center of Waikiki and rebuild it retaining all major trees and lots of open space while adding new pavilions, a food hall, kiosks, an amphitheater, parking and three-story retail buildings.
Meandering paths, a boardwalk, a hula mound, artisans, storytellers and an artificial stream replicating one cut off by the Ala Wai Canal also would be part of the 230,000-square-foot complex on 4.5 acres occupied by the existing marketplace and Waikiki Town Center between Kuhio and Kalakaua avenues.
Mark Hastert, foundation president, said the new International Market Place, slated for construction in mid-2005 and completion in late 2007, will retain the character and atmosphere of the original.
"This marketplace has a 50-year history, and we don't intend to change that," he said. "We intend to capitalize on that 50-year history. What it once was, it can be again. We feel very strongly that that's where we're headed. I think the things (visitors) remember will still be there."
Hastert said the nonprofit foundation, which manages an endowment set up by Queen Emma to benefit the health of Hawaiians and Hawai'i residents through what is now Queen's Health Systems, based some of its ideas on a 1994 report by the late cultural historian George Kanahele.
The marketplace design, Hastert said, will retain its retail heritage of the last half-century and honor the earlier history of the site as Queen Emma's garden retreat amid palm groves, fishponds and 'Apuakehau Stream.
The foundation's goal is to substantially increase income from the property to help perpetuate its healthcare mission.
Hastert could not immediately say how much income the foundation will lose for the two years the marketplace is closed, or provide projected income for the redeveloped property, but he said the new marketplace will be a significantly greater revenue source.
The renewal project also will add value to 14 acres of land owned by the foundation around the marketplace. Hastert said about half of the 14 acres, including property leased to the Miramar Hotel, Food Pantry and Perry's Smorgy Restaurant, could be redeveloped after ground leases expire in 2010.
Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, said the marketplace project will become another new attraction and gathering place for visitors and residents.
"It fits perfectly into the whole effort to revitalize Waikiki," he said. "I think it's going to be a tremendous plus."
Egged said property owners have spent about $500 million in Waikiki over the past five years, renovating hotels, adding new retail complexes and improving public spaces such as Kuhio Beach and Kapi'olani Park.
In the next five years, Egged said, another $500 million or more is expected to be spent on projects including redeveloping the Waikiki III theater, redeveloping outdated Outrigger hotels on Lewers Street and renovating Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
Fred Noa, retail vice president for local real estate firm CB Richard Ellis Hawaii Inc., said that the theater, Outrigger and Royal Hawaiian retail projects will compete with the marketplace for tenants and that 230,000 square feet is a lot to fill especially in Waikiki where there is relatively high retail vacancy.
The parking should help draw residents, he added, but finding unique quality tenants, such as Duke's at the Outrigger Waikiki hotel, will be critical for what he said is an exciting project.
"If they're selling an authentic local experience, it is essential that they have locals there," Noa said. "They're going to have to have something very special to draw residents."
Hastert said the development team has only started to work on a merchandising plan to identify prospective tenants.
He said retailers and services may include some current marketplace tenants, but would not be what is found at typical shopping centers.
Local retail and real estate consultant Stephany Sofos said the foundation's strategy, if executed well, should make the project succeed. "Hawai'i is saturated with the Gucci-pucci-luccis and the middle-market Gap, Gap Kids, Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch," she said.
Like Noa, Sofos said the marketplace design with a Hawaiian sense of place and ties to the old uses is a good plan. "If they can keep (tenants) unique, they will be successful," she said.
International Market Place was developed in 1957 by Paul Trousdale, Clint Murchinson Jr. and Donn E.R.G. Beach for $1.5 million on land leased from Queen's Hospital.
The foundation acquired the leased-fee interest in 1998 after a dispute over lease rent, and has since been contemplating redevelopment.
Reach Andrew Gomes at email@example.com or 525-8065.