Owner says declining interest prompted decision to close Kam Swap Meet

In less than two weeks, Kam Swap Meet will be no more.

Located at the site of the old Kam Drive-In theater next to Pearlridge Center, the swap meet has been a community staple for decades.

Its last sale takes place March 5.

The property owner, Robertson Properties Group, said in a statement:

Once the property was earmarked for the development of Live Work Play ‘Aiea (LWPA), the company continued with swap meet operations as a temporary use.  Unfortunately, interest in the swap meet has declined over the years to the point that it is no longer sustainable. …

We hope that our remaining vendors will move to the nearby Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marketplace.  We will provide our on-site management with information for distribution to vendors to help facilitate such a transition.

LWPA has been in the works since at least 2010. The developer promised a vibrant community close to rail with restaurants, offices, stores, a possible kamaaina hotel or a senior-assisted living home, and 1,500 new affordable homes.

In 2014, the Honolulu City Council approved the property’s redevelopment. So what’s happened since?

“They were hit with a 40-percent increase in construction costs very rapidly. That delayed the project,” explained councilwoman Kymberly Pine. “What was unfortunate was that this project had a lot of affordable housing in it, and it was along the rail line. So we’re hoping now that things are leveling off, they’ll start the project again.”

The developer says Hawaii’s rising construction costs are among the highest in the nation.

While no timeline was provided, Robertson said it is:

“committed to Live Work Play ‘Aiea (LWPA), the proposed mixed-use commercial and residential community on the site of the former Kamehameha Drive-In. The LWPA community will integrate homes, stores, restaurants, offices, and public plazas into a compact, walkable urban village in close proximity to employment centers and multiple forms of transportation.”

Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting says the developer has seven more years to build the community before it must re-apply for approval.

“I would like to get an update on the projection for the new time frame, if there is one,” said state Sen. Breene Horimoto, who represents the area. “I’m concerned now knowing that the swap meet is shutting down and what’s happening with the land. I’d hate to see it overrun with graffiti and vandals. I am concerned.”

Robertson says it’s looking at interim uses for the space before construction begins.

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