Kailua shop owners
at least $100,000
A new entrance to KailuaBy Leila Fujimori
Beach Center may soon
Businesses at the Kailua Beach Center say Christmas passed them by.
A project to install new sewer lines has turned Kailua Road into a one-way, one-lane street, and business at the center -- near the entrance to Kailua Beach Park at Kailua Road and South Kalaheo Avenue -- dropped 50 percent, resulting in at least $100,000 in lost revenue, shop owners said.
The city, however, says it started construction this month because the businesses requested that there be no construction during the peak summer months. The project will be completed in four to six months.
Many of the center's 15 tenants sent a petition earlier this month to the city because they say their businesses are in jeopardy and their concerns are being ignored.
"They told us the road isn't going to be blocked up except for one or two days, not every day, and not without any construction being done," said Wolfgang Hucklenbroich, owner of First Stop, a convenience store.
Other owners say business is suffering because traffic on Kailua Road can only go toward the beach. "Our biggest problem is, people go out to the beach and check it out and then try to come back to us and never make it," said Aidan Schmer, owner of Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks. While his business was down at least 30 percent, he said other restaurants, clothing shops and convenience stores are suffering greater losses.
Randall Fujiki, director of the Department of Design and Construction, said the city is doing all it can to accommodate the Kailua Beach Center business owners.
"Originally, the traffic was supposed to go mauka, but at their suggestion we routed the traffic to go makai to the beach," Fujiki said.
To help the businesses, plans to pave a new lane for an entrance to the center from South Kalaheo Avenue have been drawn up and will be presented to the community today, Fujiki said. If approved, he said, the new entrance will take seven to 10 days.
The construction also upset residents. Traffic on narrow Kuukama Street went from hundreds of cars a day to thousands of cars a day because of construction detours. But signs now direct people to Kuulei Road, a major artery with traffic lights.
And although no left turn is allowed onto Kuukama Street from South Kalaheo Avenue, residents put up their own barrier to block cars from illegally making the turn. The change angered the businesses because it takes customers farther away.
Fujieki said: "People are going to be inconvenienced, and you can't make everyone happy.
"We are trying to work with the community. But we need to work in a cost-effective and expeditious manner."