WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Michelle Lam has been selling jewelry in a kiosk in the International Market Place for twenty years. There will not be a 21st year.
Lam is one of the many vendors who must vacate the premises by 8pm on New Year's Eve as the property is readied for redevelopment. In an effort to cut her losses, Lam was selling off a lot of her merchandise at cost.
"I would have to sit on it until I find another location" she explained. She has yet to find that location. "It's very competitive with everyone searching for a space".
Mike Thipphavong is much like Michelle. He too has been a tenant for two decades, and must also leave by the same deadline.
"It's kind of sad, because lots of people are going to be out of jobs, like myself" he said.
Residents of Oahu are feeling much the same. Kim Blume brought her kids and mother to the International Market Place one last time for a stroll through the shops.
"It's a piece of history of Honolulu. You can come down here and just enjoy the view...between the trees, and the history that's in here" she noted.
Tourists noted the finality as well. "I think it makes us a little more determined to look around and take home a souvenir" said Ann Wilson, on vacation from Houston, Texas.
The property owner, The Queen's Health Systems, issued the following statement:
"We are deeply grateful to our IMP tenants for supporting the Waikiki community over these many years. We thank them for their patience in this redevelopment process, which we know has not been easy. Over the past several years, we have tried to be as open and honest with them as possible and have done all we can to keep them updated on the project every step of the way.
It is important to note that revenues from the revitalized International Market Place will directly support The Queen's Medical Center, the state's largest private, nonprofit hospital and its mission of providing quality health care to all of Hawai'i's people. Also, the redevelopment of the International Market Place is anticipated to create approximately 1,000 construction jobs, and 2,500 permanent jobs, boost tourism, and generate additional sales and property taxes for the City and State."