Redevelopment at Waikiki shopping center to finish this summer

Kalakaua entrance International Market Place
Rendering of the Kalakaua entrance to the International Market Place.
Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

Work on a 30-month, $465 million redevelopment project now underway at Waikiki’s International Market Place is scheduled to wrap up in time for an Aug. 25 opening this summer.

Michael Fenley, general manager of the International Market Place, said construction of the three-level, 360,000-square-foot open-air facility reached a key milestone in November.

“We recently had a topping-off ceremony, where we completed the steel structure, and we are now moving quickly toward our opening,” he explained.

The Queen Emma Land Co., owner of the Waikiki International Market Place, first announced its partnership with mainland-based Taubman Centers and CoastWood Capital Group to complete an overhaul at the 4.5-acre historic Waikiki site in May 2010. But ground wasn’t broken on the project until March 2014.

Known before as a terrific spot for Waikiki visitors to purchase inexpensive, Hawaii-themed gifts, the International Market Place had previously been home to about 150 tenants, including restaurants, apparel stores and jewelry retailers. According to Fenley, the redeveloped center will house between 75 and 80 “moderate to luxury” retailers and eight to 10 restaurants.

The new International Market Place will also be home to the only Saks 5th Avenue location in the Hawaiian Islands.

“We are working hard to bring the International Market Place back to a preeminent gathering hub for all of Waikiki in terms of retail, dining and entertainment,” Fenley said. “We are doing so in a very respectful manner in terms of the site, but we’re also keeping in mind what the dinners and shoppers of today are looking for in Waikiki.”

The iconic outdoor bazaar dates to 1956 but may be best known for its massive banyan tree, which has been preserved through the redevelopment effort.

“Historically, the banyan tree had a treehouse where radio broadcasts were done back in the 1960s,” Fenley said. “And our new design will allow customers to traverse through the upper branches on a pedestrian bridge, [and they can] experience a treehouse that will be constructed on the second level in the banyan tree.”

Fenley added that facility will offer shoppers and diners a mix of Hawaii businesses along with national and international retailers. The restaurant lineup, meanwhile, will also feature establishments run by award-winning local Hawaii chefs but also include established mainland U.S. and international eateries.

“People will find a truly unique blend of merchandise and restaurants, many of which will be unique to Hawaii, unique to Waikiki and will come together to make for a great experience,” Fenley said.

Waikiki visitors will also be able to take advantage of a range of entertainment at the redeveloped International Market Place, where performances will kick off nightly with a torch-lighting ceremony at dusk.

“We haven’t finalized the programming component yet,” Finley said. “But it will be both dance and music entertainment, and we’re working on the details.”

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