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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hopes high as work begins on Waipahu marketplace

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Central O'ahu Writer

The Waipahu Community Association broke ground yesterday on a $3.4 million marketplace project it hopes will revive business activity in the community's historic town core.

Darrlyn Bunda, the community association's executive director, is optimistic that the Waipahu Festival Market, across Waipahu Depot Road from the former Arakawa store, will be open by December. The association is awaiting city approval of permits it applied for last November before it can begin renovation of the old Big Way supermarket building, Bunda said.

"This will be one of the primary socioeconomic revitalization efforts to restore our town core," Bunda said. "The feedback from the community has been very good."

It is the association's first major project since it was reactivated in 2000 after two decades of inactivity.

The festival market will feature 34 vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits and seafood as well as Pacific regional food products and local arts and crafts in an indoor setting modeled, on a smaller scale, after Pike Place Market in Seattle and Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, British Columbia, Bunda said.

About 60 vendors have expressed interest in the 34 slots, Bunda said.

Money for the project comes from a $1.25 million city community development block grant matched by the U.S. Economic Development Administration; a $748,350 economic development initiative special projects grant; $180,000 from Enpower O'ahu; and a $300,000 grant in aid from the state.

Space will also be devoted to a business incubator and training center, Bunda said.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, and Ed Kubo, U.S. attorney for the district of Hawai'i, were among the public officials at yesterday's groundbreaking and blessing.

Reach Rod Ohira at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.