Chinatown merchants likeGrand opening By Rosemarie Bernardo
it but some fear it will cause
a parking problem
Marian Tang watched the traffic gridlock on Maunakea Street.
"No more parking, no can come in," she said, referring to the new police substation in Chinatown that has taken over parking stalls in front of her family's century-old shop.
Tang and other Maunakea Street merchants say they have mixed feelings about the new substation that has relocated from Nuuanu Avenue two blocks away.
On one hand, they feel the police presence will increase safety. On the other hand, there's the parking problem.
The city officially opens the new substation at Hotel and Maunakea streets with a block party tomorrow night.
Sun Hung "Sunny" Wong, executive director of the Chinatown Merchant Association, said, "There's more parking available now than 10 to 15 years ago."
"We're very thankful to the city that it finally became a reality to have a substation in Chinatown," said Wong. "It will improve the safety for the people in Chinatown."
Lynne Matusow, chairwoman of the Downtown Neighborhood Board, said, "If you're gonna have a police station, they need to have close access when they're called away.
Matusow said there are three public parking lots available for customers.
Carol Costa, city spokeswoman, said there are three stalls designated for police officers on Maunakea. There are eight stalls in the parking lot of Kekaulike Courtyard for detectives and station personnel, said Costa. Karen Lau Lee of Cindy's Lei Flower Shoppe, said the parking has become scarce but said, "At night, we're glad they're there." One of three buildings confiscated by federal marshals for illegal activities has been converted into the new police substation. The city purchased the property from the federal government in 1998 and renovated the building.
AM Partners Inc. designed the building. "The buildings were rundown and in need of a lot of work," said Brian Takahashi, principal of the firm.
"Our design reflects the city's desire to upgrade Chinatown, while maintaining its historic significance and character," said Takahashi.
City Managing Director Ben Lee said the police substation is dedicated to Dan Liu, the longest-serving police chief of the Honolulu Police Department.
The first floor of the substation houses the volunteer-based, anti-crime camera operation, the Chinatown bicycle patrol and administrative offices. Offices for burglary/theft detectives that serve the Chinatown district will be on the second floor; 114 police officers split into three shifts will be based at the substation, said Lee.
The $3.5 million complex includes the substation and two renovated buildings -- an information and cultural center on the history of Chinatown will be in a building on Smith Street and two street-front retail stores will be in a building on Hotel Street.
The cultural center is expected to be finished in two months.
"I think the administration has made a major commitment in making downtown kind of a 24-hour city with restaurants and cultural activities," said Lee.
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What: Block party for the new Chinatown police substation
Where: Hotel Street between Maunakea Street and Nuuanu Avenue
When: 5:30 p.m. tomorrow
Celebration: 100,000 firecrackers, lion dancers and a special dragon blessing
Entertainment: Honolulu Fire Department's five-member musical group, FireHouse; a Hawaiian musical group, Homestead Style; rock band, Blindsight; Chinese cultural performances, and the Royal Hawaiian Band Glee Club.
Tours: The new station and demonstrations of the anticrime cameras will continue throughout the evening.
Food booths: Indigo, Havana Cabana and Murphy's Bar and Grill
Buses re-routed: Buses going toward Diamond Head will be available on King Street. Buses going toward Ewa will be available on Beretania.