HALEIWA, OAHU / Hawaii News Now -
Haleiwa's rich surf and plantation history is at the heart of the new Haleiwa Store Lots project.
Landowner Kamehameha Schools had to strike a balance between redevelopment and respecting Haleiwa's "country" lifestyle.
Kamehameha Schools Senior Land Assets Manager Kalani Fronda described the project this way, "It really emulates and creates a plantation boardwalk feel."
Kamehameha Schools spent 16 million dollars revitalizing this famous North Shore destination into a new gathering place that preserves its unique local character.
There are no big Mainland chains here by design.
Instead you'll find local businesses like T & C Surf and Matsumoto shave ice, an iconic North Shore fixture since 1951.
Fronda explained the significance, saying "One of the key commitments we made to the community was to make sure we didn't have any national entities in this project. The shops you see here are all either established in Hawaii or owners are from Hawaii."
Michael Iwatake, a visitor from New York, grew up in Aiea. He said, "There's no sense in coming to Hawaii and seeing the same old chain stores you see on the Mainland so it's good to see local stores."
Malibu Shirts was the first of five stores to open for business.
Sales Associate Kristin Yogi said, "They kept it nice and country. You have all these other shops. Locals have a place to come shop."
Visitors can get a glimpse into old Hawaii.
New Zealand visitor Pel Arnott said, "We were staying in Waikiki and thought we'd drive and come check it out. It looks really good."
By next Spring, there will be 13 shops, 5 restaurants, and 2 offices.
Yogi added, "The best thing about this place is benches. A lot of people just want to sit down. You know after you do shopping, you want to eat your Matsumoto shave ice."
Iwatake likes the changes. He said, "My wife and I were talking about you used to have to sit on benches at Matsumoto store next to the road. With the railing and new sidewalk, it's a pretty nice thing."
Shoppers at the Haleiwa Store Lots will also notice 95 new parking spots, public restrooms and areas to soak up the local culture.
The 650 foot walkway is a major first step in Kamehameha School's North Shore Plan that covers close to 26-thousand acres between Haleiwa and Waimea Bay.
The town's first public walkway is part of a larger vision.
Shops, restaurants and housing to reinvigorate a community that welcomes 2.5 million visitors every year, without upsetting its local character.