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Chinatown survey an aid to revitalization

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Chinatown survey an aid to revitalization

There are 2,263 parking spaces in historic Chinatown, 30,000 square feet of buildings devoted to art and education and 46,000 square feet of bars, according to statistics in a nearly completed master plan of the area.

CJS Group Architects has compiled the data for the city project covering the oldest commercial area in Honolulu. The $150,000 master plan is expected to become a guide for the planning and marketing of the district.

Chris Smith, the architect in charge of the study, said crews were sent to every nook and cranny in Chinatown to measure, count and record all the details that make up the area, including the number of retail shops, who owns what property, the amount of open space, the number of bus stops and dwelling units.

Those figures will be totaled and analyzed and grouped into color-coded maps showing where each category is for the plan, which is expected to be completed and presented to the city in July, Smith said.

"We have put Chinatown through the filter and examined it under a microscope," Smith said. "I can tell you how much retail they've got, where the buses go, how much parking they have and how much retail. It's a snapshot at this moment in time."

The master plan was a 2002 vision team project and, besides the data, the plan will include guidelines for making the area a better place to live and work, said the project's champion, Stanford Yuen.

"It will be the framework for the future development and marketing of Chinatown," Yuen said. "We don't just want numbers. We expect the architect and the city to have a plan on what to do with this data."

Yuen said there have been many studies done on Chinatown over the years and they don't want this to be just another report collecting dust.

"We need a plan that says what to do with the data, and then we will be able to push it forward," Yuen said. "It's like a doctor telling you what your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are and so what? They are numbers and what do they mean? What do we do with it?"

Smith said the real success of the master plan has to come from within the community.

"The key to the success is getting them to take part," Smith said. "When it is all said and done, there has got to be somebody that gets so excited and says 'OK, I'll take the baton, run with it and make it work.' Otherwise, this thing goes back on the shelf."

Bob Gerell, a real-estate investor and property manager in Chinatown, is a member of the action committee charged with implementing the master plan's recommendations.

Gerell said there are dedicated people in Chinatown willing to work to make change.

He said the parking numbers are especially useful

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