Waikiki Group Turns to New Projects

With Kalakaua beautification completed, association shifts its focus to other parts of Oahu resort area

By: Marty Wentzel

Fresh from the success of beautification projects along Kalakaua Avenue, the Waikiki Improvement Association is moving forward with plans to bring the rest of the Oahu resort up to the same standards.

For 30 years, the nonprofit organization of tourism leaders, property owners and business professionals has been working closely with government officials to strengthen the overall vitality of Waikiki.

Most recently, the results of their efforts can be seen in the multi-million-dollar makeover of Kalakaua Avenue and the adjacent Kuhio Beach Park. Along with physical improvemetns, the area now features free evening hula and torchlighting ceremonies and programs for the public such as Brunch on the Beach and Sunset on the Beach. Kapiolani Park boasts a new bandstand, and the new Waikiki Historic Trail tells the story of the area on surfboard-shaped bronze markers.

Now, association President Rick Egged and his members are turning their attention to improvements along Kuhio Avenue, one block mauka (toward the mountains) of Kalakaua. Long considered Waikiki’s primary service route, Kuhio will be under construction throughout the rest of the year.

Wider sidewalks, shade trees and street furniture will be added in an effort to transform Kuhio into what the association’s agenda calls “an integrated and inviting pedestrian experience where visitors and residents alike can enjoy shopping, dining, entertainment, strolling and relaxing.”

Once Kuhio is completed, work will move mauka again to the Ala Wai Canal.

The canal, which is being dredged after a lengthy delay, will be further developed for competitive water sports and landscaped pedestrian and bike paths will line the banks.

The association intends to ensure that the side streets linking Kalakaua, Kuhio and Ala Wai are maintained properly and that the whole area has consistent signage so visitors can find their way without difficulty. Another goal is to establish a network of walking and biking paths throughout the area.

Once the work is done, Egged said, Waikiki will be promoted as one continuous resort rather than a hodgepodge series of hotels, shops and restaurants.

According to the association’s agenda for 2003, “Waikiki’s hotels, retail shops, residences, beaches, open spaces, landscapes, sidewalks, streets and public infrastructure must be kept up-to-date so that Waikiki’s reputation as a resort of international renown is not lost to old age but is continuously enhanced.

“More than any other single area, Waikiki impacts the state’s economy,” the agenda continues.

“All of Hawaii’s people benefit from Waikiki and are responsible for assuring its continuing attractiveness in order that Waikiki may compete successfully with other destinations.”