Upper Front Street
The quiet upper end of downtown Front Street in Lahaina isn't quiet anymore.
A dozen projects are underway which reflect the growing interest in the section of the old street between Lahainaluna Road and the Lahaina Shopping Center.
Driving and parking in the area seems to become more haphazardous every day.
Some of the current developments:
-Extensive remodeling of the Lahaina Broiler, the Luana dress shop, and the Maui Belle night club.
-Construction of the Summer Palace, a good-sized gift and clothing store that will have its own potter and silkscreener.
-Speculation on the use San Francisco restauraneur Alexis Merab will make of his vacant oceanside lot next to Fancy and Free.
-The opening of Either/Or, an imaginative, full-service bookstore that seems to have something for everyone.
-Installation of an attractive new brick sidewalk in front of Buzz's Downtown restaurant.
-The planned expansion of the Incite clothes and health food store, which will force relocation of Fatatateta, a shop handling fabrics, yarns, and beads.
-Plans for a new Crazy Shirts outlet next to Luana.
-Plans for renovation and repainting of the large old Chee Kung Tong Society building on upper Front Street near the shopping center. E. Blaine Cliver, the architect who developed restoration plans for Lahaina's Baldwin Home and is working now on the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, inspected the building last week and will present recommendations for its renovation.
-Opening of Emeralds International in the building next to the Tong Society.
-Construction of a new building which now houses Geno's cafe and hip gathering place, and the Jan's of Lahaina gift shop.
-Repainting of the shabby old Queen Theatre facade.
-Creation and then remodeling of the Four Winds Shop, a very tasteful establishment offering men's clothing and hair styling.
-Closing of the Lahaina Bakery, a popular cafe that had been jammed every morning with Lahaina men grabbing breakfast on their way to work. The bakery's owner now prepares breakfasts at the nearby Maui Belle.
Also in operation on this crowded block on upper Front Street are Irene's restaurant, Shop Suey clothing and gift store, Leola women's apparel, Lahaina Realty, Kidani Taxi and Market, Boston Store, Martin Gallery, Lahaina Okazu-ya cafe, Beneficial Finance, doctors' offices, the Lahaina Dive Shop, Crispin's Pool Hall and the Lahaina Yacht Club.
All this action-and a grand total of 19 parking spaces on the whole block.
There is some hope for an eventual off-street parking lot in the area. A half-acre parcel behind the Maui Belle has been mentioned as one possibility.
Many drivers now use the large shopping center parking lot nearby, making it at least the second most popular spot in all West Maui.
And if the street seems busy now, wait until the 470-room Lahaina Inn is built on its proposed site on the Kaanapali side of the shopping center. There also is talk of moving the Lahaina terminal of the Lahaina-Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad into the area of the new hotel.
With all the interest in commercial development for tourists, it seems inevitable that the remaining few oldtime establishments on upper Front Street eventually will be forced out. The Lahaina Bakery is gone, and the market, the pool hall and the Okazuya restaurant seem destined, unfortunately, to follow.
This section of Front Street is crowded, narrow, and blighted with the omnipresent power poles and lines. But someday, if the planners and dreamers have their way, the poles will be gone, old-fashioned gas lamps will provide nighttime illumination, and some variety of pedestrian mall will be created.
Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970
Reporter/Photographer Buck Quayle in 1971 in Maui with the Cartagenian in the background
Another Day At The Office Haleakala National Park