Friday, August 31, 2001

Cultural site considered
for Royal Hawaiian

By Rick Daysog

The owner of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is mulling a plan to build a Hawaiian cultural center at the Waikiki mall as part of a $24 million renovation project.

Officials at Pauahi Management Corp. are looking at building a 30,000 square-foot, open-air Hawaiian village on the third-floor roof of one of the complex's buildings, people familiar with the plan said.

The Hawaiian village plan would combine qualities of the Pleasant Hawaiian Hula Show and the Polynesian Cultural Center and would bring a much-needed entertainment and cultural aspect to the 293,000-square-foot retail complex, they said.

Sanford Murata, director of the commercial assets division at Kamehameha Schools, confirmed Royal Hawaiian is moving ahead with its much anticipated renovation, but said it's too early to discuss details.

The two-year renovation project has been approved by Pauahi Management's board but requires approval from the Kamehameha Schools' board of trustees. Pauahi is the for-profit arm of the $6 billion Kamehameha Schools.

The third-floor cultural center also requires an agreement from the owners of the nearby Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton Waikiki hotels, which control the air rights within the area.

Mall managers previously scheduled a meeting for this week with the center's 165 tenants to unveil the plan, but the meeting was canceled earlier this month.

The center -- whose tenants include upscale retailers like Hermes and Chanel -- has long been the crown jewel of the Kamehameha Schools' commercial properties. But the downturn in high-end visitors from Japan and increased retail competition from Ala Moana Center, the newly built DFS Galleria and King Kalakaua Plaza in Waikiki has cut into Royal Hawaiian's business.

"We recognize that the property needs to be renovated," said Kekoa Paulson, the estate's spokesman. "We want (its) success to continue."

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