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Mayor hits Chinatown’s sidewalks to see revitalization efforts first-hand

As part of an effort to revitalize Chinatown, Mayor Rick Blangiardi and his team walked the streets Tuesday to get a firsthand look at what needs to be improved
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:10 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As part of an effort to revitalize Chinatown, Mayor Rick Blangiardi and his team walked the streets Tuesday to get a firsthand look at what needs to be improved.

The tour started at South Pauahi Street and Fort Street Mall as Blangiardi and members from his infrastructure, housing, and homelessness committees made their way to the heart of the district.

It was Blangiardi’s second official walk-through in the area. What remains clear is a Chinatown makeover is not an overnight fix.

“We know that we’ve got a criminal element down here,” Blangiardi said.

“We’ve been dealing with the police department, the prosecutor’s office. We have to deal with the drug usage and illegal selling of drugs. We have homeless issues.”

To help address those concerns, the Honolulu Police Department increased its presence in the area and the city also ramped up the Weed and Seed program.

Another top priority for city officials is re-invigorating nearby community parks such as A’ala Park and the basketball courts at Smith and Beretania streets.

“We want people coming in here and our experience has been, when we have people activating an area, it displaces other elements,” Blangiardi said. “That’s one of the things that we want to do in a very natural kind of way. We want people to feel comfortable coming in here.”

Chinatown resident Sandra Pohl knows the area has potential to be safe and vibrant long-term.

As executive director of the Downtown Art Center, she also feels the creative community can play a pivotal role in leading the area’s transformation.

“When the mayor says it’s safe, if the police say it’s safer, then people will start coming and they’ll visit,” Pohl said. “It’s about bringing people into town because there’s a reason to come into town and so, the art galleries are trying to do that.’

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