Thursday, September 11, 2003

A visitor buys some souvenirs from a vendor Wednesday at the International Market Place.

Banyan Tree
to stay grounded at
International Market Place

The plan for the renovated
complex includes keeping a mix
of carts and kiosks

The International Market Place will remain low-rise, the owner of the 4.5 acres of prime Waikiki land said yesterday. And the banyan tree is staying.

The Queen Emma Foundation's plan for the parcel includes open-air shops and restaurants, a center for story tellers, another for ceremonies and entertainment, and a mix of carts and kiosks like those that are there now.

But after a redevelopment to cost between $100 million and $150 million, it will have 230,000 square feet of leasable space, about 50,000 square feet more than it now has.

Queen Emma Foundation has the zoning to go high-rise, according to Mark Hastert, foundation president. But that is not the plan. The foundation owns 14 other acres in Waikiki, including several properties close to the International Market Place. Making the Market Place a new gathering place and a rejuvenated center for tourists and Hawaii residents will increase the value of the other properties, Hastert said.

A makai view of the renovated International Market Place is shown in an artist's rendering.

"In 2010, the leases expire on about half the other 14 acres," Hastert said. Included are the Miramar Hotel next door to the center on Kuhio and land across Kuhio that houses a restaurant and the Food Pantry store. Some other properties coming back to the foundation in 2010 are of "fairly significant sizes" and there are many opportunities for profitable redevelopment, Hastert said.

One of the properties that reverts to Queen Emma when its lease runs out in 2010 is the Ohana Waikiki West hotel at 2330 Kuhio, near the Market Place, according to Mel Kaneshige, Outrigger Enterprises Inc. senior vice president and chief operating officer.

Kaneshige said the Queen Emma Foundation is right when it says the garden-like complex will enhance the value of the foundation's other holdings in the area.

"It could be sort of like the Hilton Hawaiian Village," where hotel towers surround gardens and retailing, Kaneshige said. In this case, it could be Queen Emma-owned hotel towers surrounding the trees and gardens and low-rise entertainment and dining of the new International Market Place, Kaneshige said.

Hastert said the foundation, which expects to close the Market Place in the summer of 2005 and reopen it in 2007, has told its tenants and those of the adjacent Waikiki Town Center that they will have to leave and may or may not have a chance to return. Queen Emma will provide a broker to help them find new locations and will also be talking to the Small Business Administration about moving loans, he said.

Some may end up in Consolidated Amusement Co.'s redevelopment of its now-closed Waikiki Theatres, which should be completed before the International Market Place closes, Hastert said.

While the aim is to restore the ambiance the area had years ago, the carts and kiosks in the new complex likely will not be the ones that are there now, Hastert said. The final marketing mix has yet to be decided, he added, but some changes are certain.

The International Market Place fronting on Kalakaua Avenue and the Waikiki Town Center have never had parking, relying on the site's history of getting the heaviest pedestrian activity in Waikiki. The new entity, targeted to open in 2007, will have 320-plus parking stalls. Many of them will be underground, but it will also be possible to drive up to third-floor restaurants and park outside, Hastert said. Part of the thinking is to attract local residents back to Waikiki.

The new Market Place will have no structure higher than three floors, unless a secondary plan to add a fourth floor of offices to a building on the Kuhio side is put into effect, Hastert said.

"It's not going to be one continuing big long complex," he said. Preliminary plans drawn up by the San Diego-based architectural and design firm Urban Labs, call for open-sided restaurants and shops in separate buildings in a garden-like atmosphere. The famous banyan tree will continue to be the centerpiece. Other trees also will remain and new trees and vegetation will be added, Hastert said.

After all the carts and kiosks are cleared and the buildings razed, ground-level will be brought up by about three feet to meet current flood requirements. That will give the owners a chance to recreate a stream that once ran through the property, this time using a recirculating pump system instead of the rain water that used to run through Apuakahau Stream from Manoa down to Waikiki Beach where the Outrigger Hotel is now, Hastert said.

A board walk will run down one side of the complex and a meandering path along the other. The foundation has retained Washington, D.C.-based Madison Marquette, a specialist in the development and marketing of unique shopping centers, as its partner to handle the business side, he said.

The foundation, which supports the Queen's Health Systems, wants to bring back "a sense of Hawaiianness" that has been lost over the years, Hastert said. The aim is to recreate an "historic garden retreat." Helping to achieve that will be a "Kupuna Story Hearth," an open air spot where visitors and residents can hear story-tellers talk about the ancient and modern history of the place, and the "Niumalu Amphitheater" for ceremonies and performances.

There will be ground-floor retailing in buildings, with numerous carts and kiosks in the open areas. Second-floor will also be mostly retailing, with plenty of escalators and elevators to move people up and down, he said. An ethnic-food court, to be called the "Kulanakauhale Food Hall," will have open kitchens so visitors can watch the food being prepared. The third level of the individual buildings will be primarily for entertainment and restaurants and the foundation may add a wedding chapel, Hastert said.

Outrigger, which plans a huge redevelopment of its properties in the Lewers Street area, thinks Queen Emma is on the right track.

"What Waikiki desperately needs is more attractions, more things for people to find and do," said Kaneshige.

"I think it is very smart of them. They recognize that that area is fairly low density and they want to keep it low density," he said. Outrigger's Lewers-Beachwalk plan calls for 109,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, about half what Queen Emma has in mind. Both developments are aimed at bringing back the old flavor of Waikiki.

Acknowledging that the Queen Emma Foundation will lose significant revenue while the complex is closed for the rebuilding, Hastert said other foundation properties will continue to bring in enough to fund the Queen's Health Systems. In addition to the 14 acres in Waikiki, the foundation has some 2,000 acres in Halawa leased to industrial and warehouse users and another 10,000 acres on the Big Island, around Kawaihae.

All the properties were left to what was then the Queen's Hospital by Queen Emma Kaleleonalai, wife of King Kamehameha IV, when she died in 1878.

While there have been many plans for the property over the years, Queen Emma Foundation has been in a passive, rent-collecting role while the master lessee, part of the Trousdale group of companies, ran the center. After Trousdale went bankrupt, the foundation ended up with sole control of the center in 1999 and it has been looking at ideas for change ever since, Hastert said.


E-mail to Business Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --