The International marketplace in Waikīkī opens today as a re-imagined shopping mall.
The $500-million, three level renovation is anchored by Sacks Fifth Avenue and took two years to complete. 75 retail stores and 10 restaurants are folded into a complex of nearly 350 thousand square feet.
But those with memories of the old marketplace may be disappointed. The Waikīkī chic of the former marketplace has been almost entirely replaced with long concrete walkways, which break into smaller gardens. The small stands selling cheap jewelry, fake ukulele, and Zippo lighters have been replaced with many shops making their Hawaii Debut.
The design did spare the banyan tree in the heart of the mall… changing its iconic treehouse into a miniature museum, and there are a few nods to the space’s Hawaiian roots. International Marketplace General Manager Michael Fenley says the spot will become a gathering place for both tourists as well as locals.
Only half of the shops and restaurants are opening with the mall today… but officials expect the complex to be filled in by next fall.