HONOLULU (KHON2) — After years of King Kalakaua Plaza sitting vacant, following the closures of Nike Town and other retailers more than a decade ago, the property is finally set for a major redevelopment. 

The building’s metal framing still stands, but parts of the glass facade are now gone. King Kalakaua Plaza is in its demolition phase, making way for an eight-story mixed-use property, which will likely include a combination of retail, restaurant and timeshares.

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The Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chair Robert Finley said the empty building attracted homeless activity to the area. He said the board was presented with plans for redevelopment back in 2019; but construction of the project was delayed, likely due to the pandemic. He is glad to see the project starting to take off. 

Finley said, “It gets rid of an empty building, and it puts a nice new building that we hope will be successful on the property.”

The property has sat empty since 2009. A company spokesperson said Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc. is under contract to purchase the property. 

The redevelopment of King Kalakaua Plaza also brings hope to the neighborhood board that other vacant commercial spaces in Waikiki’s Ewa end will also start to see some movement. 

“We are hoping, at least the board is hoping, that this will start a move of our visitors down towards the Ewa end of Waikiki,” Finley said. “Which pretty much has no real restaurant or commercial activity going on, we’d like that to happen.”

Waikiki’s Ewa end has several commercial spaces that have been sitting empty for years. 

The Cushman & Wakefield ChaneyBrooks Senior Vice President and Market Retail Expert Andrew Starn said it is likely the new development will attract more interest towards commercial spaces outside Waikiki’s core.  

Starn said, “I think that’s always going to benefit any of the retail between there, and different portions of Waikiki are going to benefit from there being more activity.”

Starn said COVID-19 had an impact on businesses. Tony Roma’s used to sit on Waikiki’s Ewa end; but the restaurant did not survive the pandemic, leaving that space empty. 

He said as more vacant commercial spaces are leased in Waikiki’s center, people looking to lease space will expand to other areas. 

But, that will also be dependent on American tourists continuing to travel to the islands and a stronger return of international visitors. 

Starn said, “If the Japanese come back, even though the dollar is strong next year, which I think people are, you know, hopeful it’s going to continue to continue to increase, then I think Waikiki is going to continue to be a really good market that has an interest in people wanting to open stores and restaurants.”

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There is no projected date for when the redevelopment of the King Kalakaua Plaza will be completed.