Saks Fifth Avenue to open in Waikiki

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Queen Emma Land Company has partnered with shopping center developer Taubman Centers in a commitment to bring Saks Fifth Avenue to anchor the newly renovated International Market Place in Waikiki.

The iconic shopping complex has about 150 tenants now, most of which are on month-to-month leases.

Sources said the deal still needs to be finalized so exact timetables are not clear.

And that's nerve-racking for people who work at the shops there.

"My manager's stressing out right now and it's putting us under pressure too, because we're not sure if our jobs will still be stable, there," said Kyle Goodness, supervisor of the Magnetz store, that's been at the center for more than 20 years.

The employees at Hawaiian Accessories shop worry that the laid-back, lower-priced atmosphere at the International Market Place will be gone for good.

"We have enough high end stores and when people come to Hawaii, they come to the International Market Place because it is a family environment.  And we're not in New York.  We don't need any more high end things," said Lindsey Pacheco, manager of Hawaiian Accessories.

Some tenants have been told there are plans to begin demolishing the Miramar at Waikiki Hotel, on the mauka side of the market place, in December of this year.  Some tenants have been told demolition of the International Market Place could follow in early 2014.

The hotel's landmark mural has been a familiar site on Kuhio Avenue since it opened in 1970.

Saks Fifth Avenue, with 42 stores in 22 states, has had an Off Fifth Outlet store at Waikele for more than 15 years.

The retailer has tried for nearly 20 years to bring one of its first-line stores to the islands.

Back in 1997, Saks announced plans to move into the Ward Warehouse. But that deal fell through when the shopping center was sold to General Growth Properties, which owns Ala Moana Center.

The developer of the new International Market Place have hired an arborist to tend to the exceptional banyan trees on the International Market Place site and say they plan to protect them through the construction process, a spokesman said.

The parcel is one of the most valuable land assets of Queen Emma Land Company, which funds the mission of The Queen's Medical Center.  A news release said revenues from the redeveloped site will directly fund Queen's operations and will also pay for other initiatives, such as the opening of The Queen's Medical Center - West Oahu.  That facility closed in late 2011 under previous owners who went bankrupt.

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