Long-time tenants of new condo-hotel project site say goodbye

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A portion of Kapiolani Boulevard near Ala Moana Center has changed dramatically. And more high rises are on the way. We spoke to long-time tenants who are sad to say goodbye. They’ve been doing business at the old Kenrock Building for decades. By this Fall, that property, along with two others adjacent to the building, will be demolished to build two towers for residents and hotel guests.

W.J. Irish Fine Jewelry has been doing business on Kapiolani Boulevard for over 30 years.

“It really is one of the old school businesses where you work with families and referrals. No technology,” said President of the company Bill Irish.

Now, Irish tells us he’s closing his doors for good at the end of August.

“I never really considered retiring at this time but the circumstances have moved me in that direction,” he said.

Friend and colleague Elaine Kudaishi of Hair Innovations has also decided to retire and focus on her health after being here for 40 years.

“We have to move on. I don’t want to start all over and start another business again. It’s too difficult,” said Kudaishi.

Both business owners are sad to say goodbye but are adapting to the changes. By October businesses on this block will have to move out for demolition to start this Fall. Sky Ala Moana will have two towers for residents and hotel guests.

“We’re on Kapiolani directly across from the future rail station and this is the Transit-Oriented Development area the T. O. D.,” said Project Sales Manager Mark Berkowitz. “We will have what we call flats, which is our affordable component. There will be 84 residences, studio to bedroom units, and above that will be the hotel.”

“I would love to have not seen all these developments but that’s progress,” said Irish.

“I’m looking forward yet I’m scared and I hate to lose my clients but I have to,” said Kudaishi.

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