On Wednesday, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs officially began preparations to demolish the vacant building that formerly housed Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant on Ala Moana Boulevard.
Demolition crews with Waipio-based North Star Contracting Group Inc. started fencing off the dilapidated 10,000-square-foot building as part of a project expected to take one month to complete.
OHA says the building, which was built around 1940, has become too cost-prohibitive to renovate and the demolition project is a direct response to health and safety concerns stemming from the building, which has become infested with termites and rats after sitting empty for a few years.
“When our building inspectors went through to check out the building, they found out that almost every area of the building needed attention. It was rated poor to unacceptable,” said OHA communications manager Garett Kamemoto.
The demolition project calls for salvaging the two restaurant signs atop the roof of the building as well as a freestanding restaurant sign at ground level and incorporating them into future development at the site, which is part of 30 acres OHA has owned in Kakaako Makai since August 2012.
“Obviously this building does hold a lot of memories for a lot of people and we want to try to honor that,” Kamemoto said. “We will be saving the signs so people can remember what this area is and hopefully give it an upgrade so this becomes a gathering place that people can be proud of.”
The demolition project comes at a time when OHA is drawing up a master plan, which is focused on fulfilling the potential for its properties in Kakaako Makai to generate revenue that could support the agency’s efforts to fund community-based programs aimed at improving conditions for Native Hawaiians.
“We expect to keep any inconvenience from the demolition to a minimum as this project allows us to address a serious health hazard and put us on a path to establish in the area a new presence that reflects a Hawaiian sense of place,” said OHA CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe.
“Really, the reason that we need to do some sort of redevelopment is to support the community because that’s where the money is going to go,” Kamemoto said.