A plan to improve Manoa Marketplace is under fire from some environmentalists. They're hoping to save several monkeypod trees from being cut down.
Alexander and Baldwin's real estate subsidiary, A&B Properties Inc., purchased the shopping center nearly two years ago.
The retail complex is 40 years old and there are several deferred maintenance issues that need to be fixed, according to A&B. There have been complaints about roof leaks and the air conditioning system. The roots of some monkeypod trees have also pushed up through the asphalt parking lot.
"They've created cracks in the asphalt and an uneven walking surface," said Darren Pai, A&B's director of corporate communications. "We've had people tell us that they've tripped and they don't feel safe and there really is a concern for them."
There are 16 monkeypod trees. A&B plans to replace seven of them with 12 bottle brush trees. The largest monkeypod tree, which is near Safeway, will be preserved.
Two other monkeypods will be relocated near the Woodlawn entrance. One additional monkeypod will also be planted. According to A&B, the total number of trees on the property will go up from 51 to 57, but critics still aren't satisfied.
"The canopy is not the same and people even today have called me saying that they look for the spaces in Manoa under the shade," said Dr. Jerry Lam, president of the Manoa Branch of The Outdoor Circle. "Whenever we see grand, mature, magnificent trees, we're trying to save them as best we can."
The company will re-stripe the parking stalls and change the layout, which will add about 50 spaces. The work is expected to start in January or February and last through most of 2018.
"Our intent is to actually make sure that Manoa Marketplace retains its feel, retains its character as much as possible, while making sure that it's safe for pedestrians and drivers," said Pai.
A&B will be giving a presentation about the project to the Manoa Neighborhood Board on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at Noelani Elementary School.
"Manoa Marketplace has always been one of the pillars of our community. It's a place where people hang out and it's something that people consider very important," said Dale Kobayashi, chair of the neighborhood board.