Victoria Ward Center
Bring it all Together, Expanding into Entertainment
Kamaaina and repeat visitors to Oahu alike have been watching with interest the growth and evolution of the section of mid-town Honolulu owned by Victoria Ward, Limited. It began with the shops and restaurants at Ward Warehouse and the Farmers Market on Auahi Street, and the Gem store around the corner on Ward Avenue. Ward Centre joined the group with a new collection of shops and restaurants. Gem left in 1994, replaced by Sports Authority. But the changes seemed slow-paced, few and far between.
Six years ago, the pace accelerated. The addition in 1995 of anchor retailer, Borders Books and Music, gave Ward Centre a boost of energy and traffic. In 1996, Ward Village Shops opened up at the corner of Auahi and Kamakee Streets, with Starbucks, Kua Aina Sandwich, clothing and outdoor retailers and later, Pier 1 Imports.
The "street retail" personality of Ward Village Shops not only attracted lots of customers (earning tenant businesses some of the highest average sales per square foot in the area) but began to accomplish something that Victoria Ward Centers' marketing and advertising efforts had not yet been able to achieve: the public perception of the area's disparate elements as a single destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.
The process of unification, both perceived and actual, continues with the opening this year of Ward's $45 million, 156,000-square foot entertainment complex, anchored by Consolidated's 16-plex theatre (86,000 square feet) and Dave & Busters sports bar, restaurant, and entertainment center (40,000 square feet). The remaining space will be occupied by a mix of retail shops and eateries located at the street level of the complex.
"People think of it as just a theater complex," says Dana Michiko Harvey, Communications Coordinator for Ward, "but it's so much more. The focus and energy is really at the street level with its retail shops and outdoor cafes. It will extend the feeling of the Ward Village Shops further down the street. It's a lifestyle destination, fun and exciting and pedestrian-friendly."
With extra-wide, landscaped sidewalks of colored concrete, the streetfront area of the entertainment center is designed not only to be attractive in itself, but to join the nearby Ward Centre and Ward Warehouse into a cohesive unit.
"Our goal is to unify the centers without losing the unique identity and diversity of each," says Leslie Brown, Ward’s Director of Real Estate Leasing, who predicts 100 percent occupancy of the new entertainment center's retail slots by the end of summer. "We are currently in negotiation for every single space," she adds.
Another important aspect of the area's evolution is the realignment of Kamakee Street and its new connection to Ala Moana Boulevard. For the first time, drivers will be able to turn left from Ala Moana onto Kamakee.
"Kamakee and Auahi will become our 'Main and Main' street intersection," says Brown. "It's an entrance to the entire area. Turn left to Ward Warehouse, right to Ward Centre, or, in front of you is the entertainment center."
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