Bigger, better, and modern.
It’s all part of the City’s plan to give the Blaisdell Center a much needed facelift. Officials want to turn the Blaisdell into “Honolulu’s gathering place.”
It’s a 400-million dollar renovation project. Officials say the current Blaisdell Center is outdated, and changes need to be made so it’s on the same level as other civic centers.
Improvements include more parking spots, new retail space such as restaurants, a modernized arena, and a larger concert hall.
The renovation project won’t start until 2019 at the earliest.
However, it’s starting a conversation for those who use the space – some users may get accommodated while others, unfortunately, will not.
The Blaisdell Center was built in the 1960s.
It’s been the venue for concerts, farmers markets, and graduations throughout the years.
But the director of the Department of Enterprise Services says it’s time for a change.
“It served our community well over 50 years. But we’re ready to move forward. This is the 21st century and we need a 21st century facility for our community,” Guy Kaulukukui, director of the Dept. of Enterprise Services, said.
The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra agrees the Blaisdell needs the upgrade, but it worries the projected 2 year renovation project will be catastrophic for the non-profit.
“Right now, most of the plan is focused on the facilities and how best to accomplish those changes. A part of it needs to be the sensitivities that are so reliant on the venue,” Jonathan Parrish, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, said.
Kaulukukui said the City is working with consultants to come up with the best way to handle the renovations whether through phases or all together.
“The first things we did was have a meeting. We met with our key users, anchor tenants like the symphony, the opera. We brought concert promoters in. Folks who are there on a routine basis. We allowed them to meet with consultants,” Kaulukukui said.
But there is one group of users that will have to find a new alternative, area employees who use the Blaisdell’s parking structure.
Several workers at nearby Straub Hospital, Queen’s Medical Center, and Hawaiian Electric said it will be hard to find a new place to park because it’s hard enough to find parking in town.
“That would probably be the one that’s most difficult to avoid because there’s a period of time where parking structure will be unavailable. It truly needs to come down. Not only so we can expand but so we can improve the flow of the parking structure,” Kaulukukui explained.
Since the renovations are in its early design stages, the City wants to hear from the public. The next public hearing will be in June.