On New Year’s Eve, all the funky little shops and vendors will be gone in Waikiki’s International Marketplace, along with the maze through to Kuhio St. in back. In its place yet another high-end shopping center will be built, with only the giant banyan tree left to remind us of an older, more laid back Hawaii.
Other areas are sure to follow, and developers have their eyes on Oahu’s north shore.
Waikiki’s iconic International Market Place to close forever Dec. 31
After 56 years on Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki’s iconic International Market Place will shut down forever at the close of business, Dec. 31.
Landowner Queen Emma Land Co. plans to demolish the maze of open-air souvenir kiosks known for its kitschy, old Waikiki charm into a modern, high-end, three-story retail complex that will include a Saks Fifth Avenue anchor store. The new project, which will house 360,000-square-feet of retail, dining and entertainment, is scheduled to open in Spring 2016. It will boast 60 stores—many of which will be unique to Waikiki—and a 750-stall parking garage spread over six acres of prime real estate on Kalakaua Avenue.
The sole survivor of the International Market Place’s demise will be its massive Indian banyan tree, which will be preserved as part of the new development. In a news release, project developer Taubman Centers—a Bloomfield, Mich.-based operator, developer and owner of high-end retail centers nationwide—has said it has engaged a registered arborist to preserve and enhance the health of the tree. The arborist, according to Taubman Centers, has been monitoring and attending to the trees in the International Market Place for more than 40 years.
While many people are resigned to development in Waikiki, there is a quiet struggle going on to protect the remaining areas of the island from rampant development – but even that is slowly losing ground. The once sleepy town of Kailua is getting a Target, and condos are popping up in the area.
The most worrisome issue, however, is the Turtle Bay Expansion plan on the North Shore:
The undeveloped land at Turtle Bay is home to Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, Hawaiian gallinules, stilts, coots, ducks, bats, ohai (sesbania-tomentosa) and others listed threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Two rare species of endemic bee that are on the candidate list for protection under ESA were found here recently.
Turtle Bay is the home of many migratory birds, bristle thighed curlews, dowitchers, golden plovers, sanderlings, ducks and geese and others- all protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
Any further expansion would destroy fragile ecosystems that are home for these protected animals and plants. The number of “units” was set to triple, retail outlets, roads, condos and hotels would combine to destroy even the degraded “buffer” zones presently supporting these protected species.
Even though degraded by the presence of a hotel, condos and golf courses there are enough fragile ecosystems to warrant restoration and preservation. Other laws protecting species and habitats at Turtle Bay are the Marine Mammal Protection Act and The Clean Water Act.
It is part of the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary and a special agricultural and fish area.
There is Supporting Habitat for four species of endangered waterbirds in Punaho’olapa Marsh and the adjacent James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is Core Habitat for them. 120 species of birds have been documented there.
The Governor of Hawaii has allocated $40 million to create a conservation easement (kind of rezoning “conservation” FOREVER) for the undeveloped land at Turtle Bay. Please support this effort by signing and sharing the petitionhttp://www.change.org/petitions/no-turtle-bay-resort-expansion-beyond-the-current-footprint or just sharing if you have signed.