Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center starts redo

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HONOLULU -- The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, in the heart of Waikiki, has begun an $84 million renovation in hopes of "taking a lead role in the overall renewal of Waikiki," said Susan Todani, director of investments for Kamehameha Schools, which owns the 293,533-square-foot center.

The shopping center renovation joins Outrigger's expansive -- and expensive -- Beach Walk redevelopment as major renewal projects under way in Waikiki. Outrigger CEO and President David Carey has vowed that the Beach Walk will "breathe new life into an important section of Waikiki."

At the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, plans are to upgrade the existing center, which spans three blocks, and bring in a mix of new lifestyle stores, upscale shops and dining and entertainment options.

New portals, windows, lanais and better access to shops and restaurants are slated to open up the cement edifice that blocks Kalakaua Avenue from the waters of Waikiki. Palm trees, shrubs and other foliage will dress up widened sidewalks.

Cafes will have "an open-air, European boulevard feel," according to a representative. New stone flooring, lighting and furnishings will be installed throughout all indoor public areas. The existing fourth-floor Aloha Showroom will be converted into a modern facility that will showcase a Roy Tokujo production, a yet-to-be-named history of Waikiki performed in the style of Maui's popular "Ulalena" show.

The renovation and construction project is expected to be completed before the end of 2006. It is estimated that investments from new and existing tenants will double the total investment to $160 million.

Fendi, Cartier, Bulgari, Hermes and Ferragamo, all of which already operate retail stores in the center, will open larger flagship stores in the new facility.

Tourneau will open its first Hawaii location with a 2,000-square-foot retail store. Kate Spade will also open a handbag and accessories shop in the center.

A Senor Frog's Mexican restaurant will open at the shopping center, and additional eateries will be announced in the coming months.

Also, a foreign-currency exchange booth will be installed as well as a packing and shipping store. Multilingual concierges will be on hand to help foreigners navigate through the center, both during and after construction.

While the Outrigger Beach Walk project, set to open in 2007, and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center project are now under way, a third development, a $100 million renovation of the International Market Place and surrounding area, has met a snag.

Plans for the project are being reviewed, sources said, although the building already is boarded up in preparation for a renovation. Sources confirmed construction has stopped. Currently more of a low-end, outdoor bazaar for tourists, it is uncertain whether there are enough funds for a total rebuild.

The redevelopment, scheduled to be completed in 2007, calls for a low-rise complex that will include retail stores, an entertainment amphitheater, cultural venues and open-sided restaurants and shops in a garden-like atmosphere.

The International Market Place's banyan tree will continue to be the centerpiece. A lack of parking in the area will be ameliorated by an underground facility with at least 320 slots.

The International Market Place is owned by the Queen Emma Foundation, which also owns 14 other acres in Waikiki, several of which are close by. The foundation retained Washington-based Madison Marquette, a specialist in the development and marketing of shopping centers.

The $480 million Beach Walk, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and the proposed International Market Place upgrade will have similar design themes: a pedestrian-friendly environment, a centerpiece that will serve as a gathering place and forum for Hawaiian cultural activities, new lifestyle stores and multiple restaurants.

At the Beach Walk, the centerpiece will be a 100,000-square-foot retail, entertainment and restaurant plaza with water features, tropical foliage and vintage Waikiki architecture.

Each of the developments is aimed at bringing back the flavor of old Waikiki.

"It is no accident that the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, the Outrigger Beach Walk project and the International Marketplace are taking similar approaches to their new design themes," said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, of which all three entities are members. "I have been meeting with each of them for about six years. We share a common thread."

That thread, according to Egged, is the concern among property owners in Waikiki, where the value of real estate is high, that there is an immediate need to enhance the area in order to maximize the return on their investments. "Some dramatic improvements needed to be made if we were to continue riding this boom Hawaii has been seeing of late," Egged said.

To contact reporter Brian Berusch, send e-mail to [email protected].

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