After decades in the making, Wailuku is getting a facelift thanks to hundreds of community stakeholders who participated in a grass roots envisioning process called “reWailuku.”
In the 1960s, with the development of Dream City in Kahului, the resorts in West and South Maui, and the reduction in employment in the agricultural sector that had dominated Maui’s economy, both residents and businesses gradually moved away from downtown Wailuku to newer, purpose-built developments. Once the place to be on Maui, Wailuku was in steep decline.
When the County of Maui first acquired the properties to create the Wailuku municipal parking lot at the center of Main, Market, Church, and Vineyard Streets, the priority was providing more parking to support the dying downtown. By the 1970s and 80s, businesses and residents had vacated Wailuku for the suburbs of Kahului and elsewhere. While Wailuku remained the center of government for Maui, pawn shops and empty storefronts started to fill its once-vibrant streets.
In recent years, however, new life has started to return to Wailuku. Key businesses have sprung up on Market and Main Streets and young families are starting to move back. To build upon this energy, the County acted in 2010 to support businesses with the long-awaited parking structure at the municipal lot. However, the community was luke warm. It was clear the exclusively parking idea of the 1970s wasn’t right for today’s Wailuku. The County soon realized that the project had to be much more than parking. They returned to the community in 2012 to ask them to remember, reimagine, and renew Wailuku.
ReWailuku is the culmination of their collaborative vision.
Through intensive, hands-on workshops, this reWailuku visioning effort brought people from diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and generations together to explore different design options for the public spaces in town and to envision what the municipal parking lot could be. At the heart of that vision was the desire to create an active gathering place for the community – one that brings energy, culture, and economic vitality back to Wailuku. The Wailuku Civic Complex and the various Wailuku Town improvement projects are the culmination of that vision.