King’s Village businesses make way for a timeshare
More bargains than usual abounded at King’s Village Wednesday as owners and shopkeepers tried to move the last of their inventory before their leases end today to make way for a timeshare tower.
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More bargains than usual abounded at King’s Village Wednesday as owners and shopkeepers tried to move the last of their inventory before their leases end
today to make way for a timeshare tower.
Michael Gelfo, owner of the Rock Island Cafe, said he moved out of his King’s
Village location Friday
and is gearing up to reopen this weekend at 1911 Kalakaua Ave. on the other side of Waikiki. But Gelfo said most of the mom-and-pop stores at 133 Kaiulani Ave. haven’t been able to find soft landings and many owners are retiring,
including some that have been there since opening day in 1972.
Gelfo said the demise of King’s Village, which had more than 45 stores, represents the end of an era in Waikiki. King’s Village was really Waikiki’s last small business stronghold after the 2013 closure of the
International Market Place, which lost its bazaar feel when it reopened as an
upscale shopping center in 2016. It’s hard not to feel nostalgic, he said.
“King’s Village was a really magical place with unique architectural and design elements. It was designed by the same architects that helped design Mainstreet USA at Disneyland. There are hand prints of celebrities in the middle of the center, a special bell from Europe hangs in the bell tower,” Gelfo said. “It’s sad to see it go, but that’s the price of paradise, I guess.”
King’s Village businesses have been in limbo since at least 2014. The project didn’t work for the previous owner BlackSand Capital Kings Village Shopping
Center, but it was clear Wednesday from the amount of shuttered stores that Hilton Grand Vacations is moving ahead with its plans to build a 32-story, 191-unit timeshare tower.
HGV President and CEO Mark Wang said in a December investor briefing that the previous developers found that the market was softening for high-end residential resort condos and didn’t know if they wanted to take the risk.
“But for us it’s not much of a risk when you think about how long we’ve been established in this market; we’ll do over a billion dollars since 2015 in Waikiki inventory. We’re moving through inventory so fast in that market. Our biggest challenge is, where are we going to get the next project,” Wang said.
Since the project came to HGV fully entitled, construction is anticipated to begin in the second quarter with completion in the first quarter of 2022. Fans of the project say it will continue gentrifying the back half of Waikiki. It also will add to Waikiki’s tight lodging inventory. And, it will grow Hawaii’s timeshare market, which is noted for delivering higher-spending, resilient tourists.
Joseph Toy, president and CEO of Hospitality Advisors LLC, said “This project will be good for Hawaii tourism. There’s still quite a bit
of strength in the timeshare
industry and Oahu is the center of demand for
However, critics of the project like Denise Boisvert-Jorgensen have said that high-rise building and
tourism are out of control. Pressure for Waikiki to
become more upscale has caused a decline in retail
diversity and priced some shoppers and shopkeepers out of the market.
Barbara Smidga, a repeat visitor from Washington state, said she’s disappointed that her shopping days at King’s Village are coming to a close.
“I’m going to miss shopping here. I’m not a high-
end store person. I like to bargain,” Smidga said.
Others like Waikiki
resident Dave Moskowitz are worried that new construction will destroy the
Variety Club Celebrity
Circle’s collection of
celebrity stars and hand prints in the inner courtyard.
“These iconic people, including Duke Kahanamoku, Hilo Hattie, Don Ho and Jim Nabors, helped make Hawaii the place that tourists want to come to today,” Moskowitz said.
Megumi Haubner, a spokeswoman for HGV in Hawaii, said the company understands that “King’s Village has a long and unique history and are looking forward to preserving pieces of that history, such as the hand prints left by famous celebrities on the property in years past.”
“We are currently discussing the best way to honor
the heritage of the area
as we move forward,”
Boisvert-Jorgensen said she’s hopeful that HGV also might consider working with the community to increase the $1 million benefits package that Waikiki was promised by the site’s previous developers during their pursuit of a planned resort development, which allowed building exemptions.
“This condo-hotel tower will fill in even more open-air space in Waikiki, and will add hundreds of extra rental cars to the streets and more than a thousand additional people on the sidewalks each day. Yes, good for the tourism industry, but a heavy burden on infrastructure, water supply, electricity, road conditions, and sewer lines,” Boisvert-