State briefs for January 19

Waikiki experiences transformation

HONOLULU (AP) — Waikiki has gone through a transformation in less than a decade with seven major developments that have upgraded the face of shopping in the famous Oahu district.

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The additions to the Honolulu neighborhood have included Hard Rock Café, the Victoria’s Secret-Sephora stores, Ritz-Carlton Residences, and International Market Place.

A wave of redevelopment began around 2007 when Outrigger Hospitality Group transformed a city block near Waikiki Beach Walk, while Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center also undertook a major renovation.

The area’s transformation brought in or enhanced retail brands at every price point, from Hermes and Tiffany &Co. on the high end, H&M for affordable fashion and Ross Dress for Less catering to budget shoppers.

The rental prices and prestige of Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue now rank closely behind New York’s Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and Union Square in San Francisco, public radio reported.

Softening rents in Union Square and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue have left Kalakaua ranked fourth as a shopping area, said Andy Starn, vice president of retail at Cushman &Wakefield ChaneyBrooks property management company in Honolulu.

Honolulu’s Kuhio Avenue, running parallel to east of Kalakaua Avenue, is expected to be the next area to benefit from redevelopment, commercial real estate experts said.

Underwater tire reef experiment to be cleaned up

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Scientists in Guam are trying to determine how to remove a man-made underwater mountain built out of vehicle tires 50 years ago.

Guam Environmental Protection Agency scientists hoped the tire reef would improve marine conditions in Cocos Lagoon and increase fish stocks, but has instead been left abandoned a mile from shore and about 20 feet below the water, Pacific Daily News reports.

The project started in 1969 and was discontinued in 1973 after the tire reefs didn’t recruit enough fish populations to be deemed effective, government officials said.

The 2,400-tire experiment is now considered trash and would cost $250,000 to clean up, government officials said.

The government received a federal grant to clean up the artificial tire habitats, but officials do not know where the second 350-tire habitat is located.

It is unclear how much money was received through the grant.

Scientists must receive proper permits, conduct the necessary studies and then remove the tire reef over the next three years, officials said.

“Removal efforts of the tire reef will help prevent any further damage to the natural habitat that may negatively impact the biological, economic and cultural importance of Cocos Lagoon,” environmental officials said in statement.

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The tires taken from the lagoon are expected to be shredded, shipped to Asia and used as fuel for the cement industry or rubberized asphalt, officials said.

Coral that has grown on the tires will be relocated, scientists said.

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