Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightThe Queen Emma Land Co., owner of the Waikiki International Market Place, filed an environmental impact statement preparation notice Nov. 4, outlining a dramatic redevelopment for the iconic outdoor bazaar that dates back to 1956.

In May of last year, Queen Emma Land announced a partnership with Mainland-based Taubman Centers and CoastWood Capital Group to explore development at the 4.5-acre Market Place. Their current plans call for a three-level, 355,000-square-foot, open-air retail center that officials estimate will cost between $250 million and $300 million to construct.

“Redeveloping the International Market Place will play an important role, not only financially for the Queen’s Health Systems (the parent company of Queen Emma Land) but in supporting the legacy of our founders, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV,” Les Goya, vice president of Queen Emma Land, said in a statement released earlier this month.

A popular spot for Waikiki visitors to purchase inexpensive, Hawaii-themed gifts, the International Market Place is home to 150 tenants, including restaurants, apparel stores, and jewelry retailers, and is located only a few blocks east of the recently renovated Royal Hawaiian Center and new Waikiki Beach Walk development.

International Market Place renderingAsked if ownership felt any pressure to keep up with other recently improved retail locations in Waikiki, Queen’s Health Systems spokesman Cedric Yamanaka said enhancing the International Market Place’s appeal was the main priority.

“We just want to provide the best product that we can,” he said. “And basically we’re looking at a way to breathe new energy into that property. It’s an iconic property, and we want to be as respectful as possible but also breathe new life into it.”

Although Yamanaka insisted the redevelopment project is still in the very early planning stages, he did say “if everything works out well,” construction would begin in 2013 at the earliest.

The Queen Emma Land Co. is a nonprofit organization that manages real estate endowed to Queen’s Hospital by the Hawaiian Queen in 1885. She and her husband, King Kamehameha IV, founded the facility, now known as Queen’s Medical Center, in 1859. Today it’s the largest private hospital in the state.

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