International Market Place set to close soon
Vendors at the iconic International Market Place have just days left before getting the boot.
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"This is very sad. My sister and I come to the International Market Place every vacation and think about what trinket to bring back to our friends," said Michelle Zellner, visiting from Wisconsin.
Many vendors will just leave their kiosks behind. Michelle Lam has been set up at the International Market Place since the 1980s. She's not sure what her plans will be after the market closes.
"This has been my bread and butter for the past 20 years," said Lam.
It's not only kiosks that are closing. Larger retail outlets are affected as well. Town and Country Surf has been at the location for almost a decade, and not all the employees will get transferred to its other stores.
"It is sad, mainly because a lot of people will be losing their jobs, and for a lot of the tourists its someplace that they love coming to," said Liane Anchas, an employee at Town and Country Surf.
The new development will have stores anchored around the up-scale Saks Fifth Avenue Store. Officials with the Hawaii Tourism Authority say it's necessary change as Queen Emma Land Company looks to generate revenue for years to come.
"When visitors go there the money that's used there helps to support Queen's Hospital so all of Hawaii can get affordable health care," said Mike McCartney of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Members of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board say they've seen change to the 2.8 acres of prime real estate, smack-dab in the middle of Waikiki, coming for years.
"It's very unique. There's nothing like it in Waikiki, and what we are getting, while it's a wonderful development, it is somewhat generic... for better or worse, it will change the unique identity of that area," said Jeffrey Merz with the Waikiki Neighborhood Board.
Current vendors have to be out by 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Property owner Queen Emma Land Company issued a statement saying in part, "The redevelopment of the International Market Place is anticipated to create approximately 1,000 construction jobs, and 2,500 permanent jobs, boost tourism, and generate additional sales and property taxes for the city and state."
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