Iconic Waikiki areas up for redevelopment

Les Goya
Les Goya

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's been around for more than five decades but it may soon disappear.  A major facelift may be in the works in the heart of Waikiki.

With leases expiring in the near future, the Queen Emma Land Company announced plans to put the land up for lease, in hopes of redeveloping the 50-year-old iconic retail complex and generating more income to support the Queen's Medical Center.

In the depths of the International Marketplace are its many vendors. For nearly eight years, wood-carved tikis have been Pauli Tamale's trade. He's attracted people from all over.

"We were just admiring this guy back here, that's really neat. You don't find that out there," said Texas visitor Veronica Lucatero.

The Queen Emma Land Company wants to redevelop nearly 6.5 acres of space. The area includes: The International Marketplace, Waikiki Town Center, Perry's Smorgy Restaurant and the Food Pantry. The company hopes to revive revenue.

"We need to enhance the value of these properties so that the income that it generates can again go back to support the Queen's Medical Center," said Queen Emma Land Company VP Les Goya.

The facelift could be a more modern, resort like look. Vendors say the move will change and chip away one of the few remaining staples of Waikiki.

"They need a place to get real Hawaiian stuff, but if they sell out, it's going to be boring," said Marketplace Vendor Pauli Tamale.

With hospitals having to dig deeper these days, the company says it's a way to stay afloat. Otherwise, they'll have to cut clinics and both nursing and community programs. While plans are still up in the air, vendors say whether it's the hospital or visitors, in the end someone will be hurting.

Because The Queen's Medical Center is non-profit, they don't turn away anyone. With issues like reduced reimbursements, they rely on other sources of income like land assets.

Officials hope to select a redevelopment plan by 2009.