Walking Honolulu's Queen Street
Where Honolulu’s urban past and future meet.
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Many years ago, Mike Meccariello discovered that he could fund his surf trips to Bali by bringing home shipping containers packed with Indonesian furnishings and knickknacks to sell in Honolulu. Then he decided to import only stuff that he actually liked, and, since he hated knickknacks, that made him a furniture importer. His two-story showroom is packed form ceiling to floor with gorgeous, exotic furniture, and no knickknacks whatsoever. 970 Queen St., 593-2127.
An Area in Flux
At either end, Queen Street has the amenties of a modern street, including sidewalks and good drainage. But along the five blocks between Cooke and Kamakee streets, the sidewalks vanish and standing puddles of water appear when it rains. The reason for this—believe it or not—isn’t municipal neglect.
Most of Queen Street runs through Kakaako, and so falls under the domain of the Hawaii Community Redevelopement Authority (HCDA), the state agency charged with upgrading the area. While Kakaako’s large landowners have generally been receptive to HCDA’s infrastructure advances, small-property owners have spurned them and the higher taxes they bring.
The mom-and-pop auto shops and other light-industrial business between Cooke and Kamakee have repelled the HCDA every time it’s gotten too close to widening their road, burying their utility cables and modernizing their sewer. On either side of this strip of resistance, Queen Street has four lanes, parking meters and towering condos. But in between it remains a two-lane street with no sidewalks, overhead power lines, occasional flooding and dozens of stubborn old-timers who like things as they are. The natural forces of gentrification are gradually transforming the business mix along these blocks, but HCDA isn’t getting any traction there.
Still & Moving Center and Honolulu Dance Studio
You know that a light-industrial neighborhood is changing when a dance studio moves in, then a “comprehensive wellness center” next door. Honolulu Dance Studio, which opened here in 2008, offers classes that range from traditional ballet to hip-hop dancing in high-heeled shoes. Last year, the Still & Moving Center opened, offering yoga, meditation, massage, tai chi, nia (Google it) and three spacious studios appointed with original artwork and equipped with sprung flooring made with mango wood. Moving Center, 1024 Queen St., 397-7678; Dance Studio, 1030 Queen St., 524-8455.