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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Seawater technology part of plan

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

The planned redevelopment this year of the International Market Place, Waikiki's aging tourist bazaar, could be accompanied by a similar plan for the neighboring Miramar Hotel.

New details of the International Market Place renewal plan have been disclosed in a draft environmental assessment filed with the state.

Advertiser library photo • Sept. 9. 2003

The Queen Emma Foundation, owner of the marketplace and the land under the hotel, also said it plans to air-condition the new marketplace using a seawater technology system supplied through a well drilled on the property.

The new details of the foundation's marketplace renewal plan, which was publicly announced in September 2003, were disclosed in a draft environmental assessment recently filed with the state.

According to the report by planning consultant Kusao & Kurahashi Inc., hotel owner Miramar Hotel (Hawaii) Inc. is considering redeveloping the 43-year-old hotel at 2345 Kuhio Ave. with a 29-story hotel with 276 to 352 rooms and suites. The existing hotel has 357 rooms on 21 floors.

According to the foundation's filing, Miramar Hotel Hawaii is preparing its own environmental assessment, though the plan is contingent on city approvals.

A Miramar representative could not be reached for comment or more details yesterday.

Queen Emma Foundation owns the roughly one-acre property under the hotel, and is working with Miramar operators to tie in some aspects of the marketplace project with the hotel property.

The 48-year-old marketplace and adjacent Waikiki Town Center on 4 acres between Kuhio and Kalakaua avenues are slated to be demolished, and rebuilt with a 230,000-square-foot complex of three-story retail buildings, kiosks, an amphitheater and food hall set amid meandering paths, existing major trees, a boardwalk, hula mound and artificial stream replicating one cut off by the Ala Wai Canal. A parking structure also is part of the project estimated to cost between $100 million and $150 million.

Cooling the retail buildings would be a deep-seawater cooling system designed and built by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.

The system would be similar to one the city water agency constructed for the University of Hawai'i Medical School in Kaka'ako as a way to conserve energy and freshwater used by traditional air-conditioning systems.

A private St. Paul, Minn.-based company also is proposing a larger system to potentially cool downtown Honolulu buildings from a pipe deployed off the Kaka'ako waterfront.

The International Market Place system is expected to pump cold saltwater from about 1,000 feet below the property into a heat exchanger to chill stored freshwater circulating in the air-conditioning system. Warmed saltwater would be reinjected into the saltwater aquifer to maintain the existing water table.

A test well will determine if underlying water is cold enough for the system. If feasible, the air-conditioning project is expected to take six months to construct starting in late 2005 or early 2006 and cost an estimated $3 million to $4 million, to be shared by the water agency and the foundation.

The marketplace redevelopment is expected to begin in late summer or early fall. The retail landmark in the center of Waikiki would close for two years during construction.

The Queen Emma Foundation has not announced potential tenants of the project.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.