Proposed waterfront retail plaza criticized as gimmick to sell more Ewa Beach homes

Proposed waterfront retail plaza criticized as gimmick to sell more Ewa Beach homes
Updated: May. 18, 2017 at 4:42 PM HST
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EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Tokyo-based developer on Thursday announced plans to transform the land bordering a lagoon at the Hoakalei subdivision in Ewa Beach into an eclectic mix of retail, dining and entertainment establishments.

"The location of this project really gave us the opportunity to do something special," said Larry Caster, Director of Retail Development for Haseko.

When completed, Wai Kai at Hoakalei will feature more than 200,000-square feet of retail space, including at least 110 shops and nearly two-dozen restaurants. The shopping center's design – it includes a 52-acre recreational lagoon – is being touted as one-of-a-kind.

"As you wander through the project there's a lot of landscaping, a lot of shade, a lot of seating," said Caster. "We're really encouraging people not just to come for the retail, but to stay all day and enjoy the water."

The company says a half-acre swimming area will be open to the public. The remainder of the lagoon will be reserved for recreational watercraft.

"People will be renting standup paddle boards and kayaks and those sort of things," said Caster.

But some area residents say they're taking today's announcement with a grain of salt.

"We bought out there in 2010 and we have been waiting for the commercial development that was promised," said Matt LoPresti. "We were told it would be there not more than a couple of years after we bought, and now it's almost eight years later."

Over the years, plans for the property have changed dramatically. In 2015, a jury ruled Haseko had engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it scrapped plans for a marina by opting for the lagoon instead.

"For years, Haseko has been making promises and announcements like this one, and it's all been part of marketing tools to try and get people to come out there," said LoPresti.

Caster says construction is slated to start this summer. The earliest the complex would open is at the end of 2019.

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