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Okinawa City businesses scramble to protect central downtown area

Date Posted: 2008-02-21

Businesses in the central downtown district of Okinawa City need look no farther than their front doors to notice the clear decline in customers, and they’re worried.

Shopping arcades are quiet, many stores have closed their doors, and customers are few in those that remain open. Some are calling downtown ‘Shutter Street’ and fear the worst is yet to come if the businesses don’t figure a plan to reverse the shopping trends away from the area. Business owners are new events to the downtown area on weekends to boost business, but say thus far the efforts have not been too successful.

Customers who used to patronize the Okinawa City area have migrated to the Chatan Town Mihama area, and over to Uruma City’s new development area, and as if that weren’t enough, businesses worry about a sprawling new development within their own city. A new 190,000 square meters commercial project encompassing what is now Awase Golf Course is to include 82,000 meters of shopping space.

The Awase project will include movie theaters, restaurants, a hospital, an amusement park and special boutiques. The parking area alone is huge, larger than Mihama’s parking lot, with a capability of 6,000 cars. For Okinawa City, the new complex will generate 2,000 new jobs, but will draw away from the downtown area.

Business owners have vowed not to give up easily, but they are grumbling about the new Awase center. Store owners say they’ll exert the efforts to keep businesses afloat, and insist they’ll come up with new innovative ideas to lure customers back.

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