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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 27, 2006

Altered plan for wedding chapel still leaves doubts

By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer


The deadline to submit comments on the proposed wedding chapel on Kuhio Avenue is Sept. 22. Send comments to the city Department of Planning and Permitting, 630 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813. For details, call the city at 523-4256.

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A Tokyo-based bridal company has scaled back its original plans for a steeple-topped wedding chapel on Kuhio Avenue, but some Waikiki residents say they're still concerned the proposed structure won't fit into the neighborhood and will attract too much traffic.

"I'm not really certain what a high-end wedding chapel is going to be doing on the corner of Kuhio Avenue and Kai'olu Street," said Bob Finley, chairman of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board. "Most of the people I've heard from are against it."

Good Luck International Corp., whose original drawings featured a three-story wedding chapel for the site, has submitted a draft environmental assessment to the city and is seeking public comment on the plan. The company's revised proposal includes a smaller structure two stories instead of three with more greenery and a turn-around for limousines.

Tae Yong Kim, environmental consultant and spokesman for the project, said the plans were toned down so the chapel would meet residents' earlier concerns and better fit into the neighborhood. A two-story vacant apartment building sits on the lot, which is bounded by other condominiums, walk-ups and a municipal parking lot.

Good Luck bought the parcel for $2.9 million in 2005.

Kim said construction could start as early as summer 2007. The project requires a Waikiki Special District permit, which means a public hearing on the chapel will have to be held.

Kai'olu Street, the site of the proposed project, is where a sewer main broke in March, spurring a massive spill into the Ala Wai Canal. There is a 10,000-pound weight limit for the street, and some residents have concerns about construction trucks and materials topping the requirement, Finley said. But Kim said the project's designers know about the limit and don't expect it to be a problem during construction.

The company came to the community in April with its original proposal, which was scrapped for the new plans. Kim said the new proposal has a "smaller footprint," and will cater to mostly Japanese nationals. The wedding chapel will be about 5,485 square feet, and the project site is 6,489 square feet in all, according to plans submitted to the city.

A loading area on Kai'olu Street will be provided for deliveries, but there will be no on-site parking for the eight people expected to be employed at the chapel. Four off-site parking spaces will be reserved at a parking facility on Lau'ula Street.

Kim said the average wedding party is expected to range from nine to 12 people.

Two banquet rooms on the first floor of the chapel will seat no more than 28 people, and the chapel will accommodate up to 40. There also will be a warming kitchen on the first floor, where catered food will be brought in for weddings, Kim said.

He added that the project "pencils out financially." Right now, he said, Good Luck schedules its weddings in chapels elsewhere on the island.

"One of the reasons why a free-standing wedding facility is being built is because these wedding parties are so small," Kim said. "They really don't fit into any existing structure. You book a hotel banquet room, they're made for 100 people."

Reach Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@honoluluadvertiser.com.