Some Small Business Owners Fear Waikiki Renovations May be Bad for Business

Greg Azus
Greg Azus
Jeanette Harmon
Jeanette Harmon

By Mary Simms

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - Waikiki Beachwalk renovations have led to a significant increase in property values for many buildings in the surrounding area. For some business tenants, that's translated into higher monthly rents. K5 News at Nine's Mary Simms tells us why one small business owner fears his shop won't survive.

Hawaii's natural high has been a fixture on Saratoga Avenue for 26 years. Owner Greg Azus just signed a 6 year lease, but thinks this building will be torn down long before that.

"With our building right in the middle of it and being that the buildings not very tall, I think there will be more high end shops here," said Azus.

His rent went up, but business is down.

"So everything's going up in price and kinda pushing out a lot of mom and pop stores like ourselves that have been around here for a long time."

In the long run, Azus thinks that the renovations could be great for business, but he doesn't know if the small business owners in his building will still be there to reap the benefits.

Maui visitor Jeanette Harmon reminisces about simpler days in Waikiki.

"Selling fresh fruit, and weaving baskets, and local things aren't as prevalent as they were," says Harmon.

Harmon worries about the fate of Waikiki's "ma and pa" shops.

"I'm not sure how it'll affect businesses. it might bring in more business but on the other hand there's so many alluring shops in the big hotels that they may lose business," said Harmon.

During the renovations Azus has lost out on foot traffic, and sales. But, he's keeping a positive outlook.

"In the long term, hopefully it'll be good. Once everything opens up I anticipate it helping down here. But, I don't know if we'll be here in time to enjoy it."

Greg Azus says even if he's forced to re-locate, he plans to stay in business. Kapahulu is one area he says he may consider moving to.