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Tuesday, May 30, 2000

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
808 Sheridan Street, at the corner of Rycroft, is the possible
future site of a Korean cultural center.

Raided building considered
for Korean center

By Harold Morse


A Korean cultural center operates from cramped space in a Kapiolani Boulevard building but hopes to move to a two-story building on Sheridan Street to run a senior day-care center.

"They only have three rooms," said former state Sen. Ann Kobayashi, representing various Korean organizations.

The larger Sheridan Street property would work better, she said. "They want to have a little gallery -- like cultural exhibits," she said.

Kobayashi, representing the Korean-American Society, outlined tentative plans last week before the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board.

The property was one of six Oahu locations authorities raided May 18 for conducting gambling games. A total of 32 individuals face federal charges stemming from a lengthy investigation before the raids.

U.S. Attorney Steven Alm was reluctant to speculate whether the property might be seized, as is sometimes done in cases that require forfeiture of property by owners.

Kobayashi, asked at the meeting what prompted society interest in the building, said it was because they're paying rent now.

"They decided they'd rather have their own place and do this senior day care."

The present society headquarters at 1507 Kapiolani is very small, she said. The society location has access to only four or five parking spaces.

"Right now they have an English class with about eight people in it," Kobayashi said.

Kobayashi, a community volunteer who assists cultural groups, and Sol Young, society president, briefly explained the new site could function as a senior day-care center for people who work and need to have older relatives looked after. English classes also would take place there, they said.

Kobayashi stressed there are no real plans yet.

"I told them not to plan anything until they came to this board first," she told the neighborhood board. "It'll be a nice cultural community center. There are going to be meeting rooms in there and people (not necessarily society members) can use them. It's just going to be a nice cultural place."

The building is partially occupied by a small restaurant and other modest operations. Young later said the owner lives in Japan and has had the property up for sale for about a year.

Traffic flow was mentioned as a neighborhood concern. Kobayashi reminded the board that there already are businesses in the vicinity. Many people going there, such as senior citizens, would be dropped off by relatives, she said. The property has about 20 parking spaces.

She was asked if the society would still put portions of the building to such uses as restaurants.

"If they buy the building, they'll have to buy the whole building," Kobayashi said. "Then they'll turn it into a cultural center."

The whole idea is so preliminary no funding has been worked out yet, she said.

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