Businesses prepare to leave as Moiliili landmark faces redevelopment

Businesses preparing to leave as Moiliili landmark faces redevelopment
Published: Oct. 21, 2016 at 12:52 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 21, 2016 at 3:10 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

MOILIILI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A longtime Moiliili business landmark is about to meet the wrecking ball, and stores and restaurants are preparing to leave.

University Square, at the corner of South King Street and University Avenue, was built in 1957 and is slated to be razed to make way for a four-story apartment tower with 191 rental units aimed at college students.

Most of University Square's businesses are moving, but some are closing for good.

Among the affected businesses -- Hungry Ear, which has bounced from location to location since 1980. The owners aren't sure where it will end up, but the big moving sale is this weekend.

"You can't stop progress, that's the thing," said Jim Williams, of Hungry Ear Records. "As much as we'd like to stay, obviously there's a need for what will be here. As little inventory as we can move to our next location, the better. And it's a great chance to say goodbye to our friends."

Meanwhile, Revolution Books is shuttering after 39 years. The store donated hundreds of texts to Pueo Library at the University of Hawaii.

"So actually all these brand new books are going to end up benefiting the students," said Eddie Bond, with Pueo Library.

Across the street, Puck's Alley is also slated for redevelopment as soon as landowner Kamehameha Schools finalizes its plans.

The coming changes are bittersweet for residents who say the redevelopment will transform the face of the community.

"Potentially this neighborhood could maybe have a transformation. That's what I hope," said UH student Linz Wilbur. "I hope it doesn't come gentrified and commercialized."

Bond added, "It's a good location for it, but it's still sad, like when they tore down Varsity Theater to make a parking lot."

At University Square, Oahu Mexican Grill is headed to Waikiki, while Professional Image Printing -- a 20-year tenant -- is moving to Kaimuki.

California-based Laconia Development will begin construction on the new tower next month, and the apartments are set to be completed in time for the fall 2018 semester.

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