Tuesday, April 3, 2001

New mall proposed
alongside Chinatown

City leasing of the area
may mean better
security, a firm says

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The city is turning to the private sector to rid Chinatown's Sun Yat-Sen Mall of drug dealers, prostitutes, gamblers and other undesirables.

The Taipei-based Longevity International Enterprises Corp., which owns the abutting Chinatown Cultural Plaza of Hawaii, wants to take over the strip between King and Kukui streets and create an outdoor dining and entertainment area.

The strip, which stands between the Cultural Plaza and Nuuanu Stream, must be released via ordinance from its designation as a public mall before the city can solicit proposals from the private sector. The Council will have its first airing on the bill tomorrow.

Jack Wang, Longevity's president, said the owner and merchants have long sought to play a more active role in cleaning up the mall.

"The problem is that the plaza has no jurisdiction because it's city property," Wang said.

Assuming Longevity is able to lease the site, it would then be able to provide 24-hour security for it, he said.

The plan is backed by Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura, who represents the downtown-Chinatown area. The area lends itself to an outdoor commercial venue, he said.

Wang said his shopping complex and the mall are natural pathways for tourists heading beyond River Street to the Kuan Yin Temple and Foster Botanical Garden.

Yoshimura said a commercial mall at the site would also go well with improvements at Aala Park slated to be done next month, including expanded parking, new basketball courts, an improved skating rink and a softball field.

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