Hotel Street As A Pedestrian Mall
Consideration should be given to closing Hotel Street to vehicle traffic from the Dai-Ichi Hotel to the Beach Road intersection and making a landscaped walking mall to replace the thoroughfare. Shaded with an abundance of trees and tropical flowers, a water fountain, park benches and an enclosed, air conditioned glass atrium where the pedestrian could enter to escape the heat of the day or a sudden tropical shower, a beautiful addition to Garapan’s tourist area could be achieved.
With attractive lights for evening illumination, nightly shows featuring local island dancers and musicians could entertain the tourist and local resident alike. Small kiosks could be interspaced down the center of the mall selling local handicrafts and food. Such a ‘pocket park” would have to be professionally designed by an architect and conform to the building and fire codes as well as being built to accommodate typhoon force winds. This area could be transformed into something similar to the International Market Place in Waikiki.
Presently there are 1,335 hotel rooms situated within walking distance of the street or 487,275 available hotel room nights annually. A conservative estimate of the potential walking tourist traffic is 136,000, and that is based on a single visit during the average three and half day stay with the hotels only little over half occupied. Actually, there would more likely be 475,000 visitors annually if not more. Certainly, the delivery of inventory and supplies to those businesses fronting on the street would have to be considered and one possible solution would be rear door access from the parallel streets.
Of course, emergency fire and ambulance lanes would have to be provided along with rest room facilities. While I have not discussed this with the owners or occupants of those businesses situated along the street, if I had a business in that location I would jump at the chance to support such a project. When you think about it, there is not that much vehicular traffic that would be inconvenienced. A “Hotel Street Merchant’s Association” should be organized to move the concept along if the majority agree that it would enhance the street and improve their business.