Ground breaks on International Marketplace renovation

A groundbreaking took place at the International Marketplace Monday, kicking off a two-year renovation.

Developer Bill Taubman of Taubman Centers, who has been working on this project for about five years, says the historic banyan tree will stay.

“I always think these complex projects are a detailed conversation with all the relevant parties, whether it’s adjacent landowners or the city or the improvement district,” Taubman said. “There’s always a number of issues you need to work through and find a consensus that works for everybody.”

For that reason, Taubman has hired a number of local cultural and architectural consultants.

Another key feature: The renovated marketplace will include 700 additional parking spaces.

“They recognize that if they can get local folks coming into Waikiki along with visitors, it’s all about parking,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie recognizes that tourism is the engine that drives Hawaii’s economy, but says local residents need to feel welcomed back to Waikiki. “Everything old is new again,” he said. “We could come down here. It was convenient and that’s what it’s going to be again. I believe this is going to revitalize not just the center of Waikiki, but renew people’s desire to come down to Waikiki locally.”

International Marketplace belongs to Queen Emma Land company. Revenues generated from the renovation will go to Queen’s hospital operations.

Some 2,500 retail jobs will be available not to mention about a thousand construction jobs.

“The good news is they’re all going to be local jobs being hired through the union hall, meaning we’re not going to have people from the mainland coming in, doing the work and going back, but people who are from here, doing the work and spending the money here,” Caldwell said.

The new marketplace will open in the spring of 2016.

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