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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Old post office assumes new role

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Light rainfall, symbolic of good luck in Hawai'i, accompanied yesterday's dedication of the renovated King Kalakaua Building, the site of the downtown Honolulu Post Office.

Cheryl Cazinha performs a hula during the dedication of the renovated King Kalakaua Building, the new home of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Cazinha is a clerk with the department.

Anuhea Borengasser of Ka Pa Nani 'O Lilinoe yesterday danced at the dedication ceremony of the renovated King Kalakaua Building, site of the former downtown post office.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

About 315 employees of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs are moving into the three-story structure that was completed in 1922. Designed in a Spanish colonial revival style on the diamondhead end of Merchant Street, the building formerly known as the U.S. Post Office, Custom House and Court Building, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

"This truly is a treasure for the people of Hawai'i," Gov. Linda Lingle said.

Joining Lingle in the dedication were U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter, descendants of Kalakaua's Kawananakoa family and DCCA employees.

Known for it's old-style, cavernous and labyrinthine nature, some of the building's ceilings have been dropped to allow for air conditioning.

The Kalakaua Building was recently renovated by Par Development and 80 percent of it was sold to the state for $32.5 million. The Post Office will continue to occupy the 'ewa end of the first floor of the building with DCCA taking over the rest.

The bulk of the DCCA has been housed in the nearby Princess Kamamalu Building on Richards Street since1968. State officials say that building is in need of about $12 million of upgrades and renovations. No timeline has been set for that project.

All branches of the DCCA are now at the Kalakaua Building except the Office of Consumer Protection and Regulated Industries Complaints Office. Those two agencies will stay at the Leiopapa A Kamehameha building on South Beretania Street where they have been for several years.

Reach Gordon Pang at 525-8070 or at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.