August 31st, 2012
Upcoming concerts at The Republik could be in jeopardy after the Honolulu Fire Department took action to deal with the new Kapiolani Boulevard nightspot's failure to obtain permits and meet safety requirements.
Hundreds of fans who purchased tickets to see Third Eye Blind in concert Thursday were turned away after fire inspectors enforced a notice of violation issued Aug. 20 that limited the venue to a maximum occupancy of 299 people. According to HFD, more than 400 people were in The Republik when inspectors arrived at 8 p.m. Thursday.
"It was disheartening to learn late Thursday evening that we were being held to a capacity that was 70 percent less than what our paperwork stated," The Republik said via email a few hours after the concert. "We were given documentation that led us to believe that we were operating legitimately within the codes of the law, which allowed us the amount of tickets that were sold for Thursday night's Third Eye Blind performance."
However, representatives for both HFD and the city and county of Honolulu's Department of Planning and Permitting disputed The Republik's claim that it had obtained all necessary approvals to accommodate a crowd of 1,000 people.
"The HFD regrets the inconvenience to The Republik's customers, but stands by its fire inspectors in keeping the public safe by insisting on compliance with fire safety standards," said Capt. Terry Seelig. "We've already done everything we can to be flexible and fair, but our first and foremost priority has to be the safety of the public."
According to documents provided by HFD, The Republik received an initial notice of violation Aug. 17 after an inspection discovered safety code violations. There was no documentation showing the venue's fire alarm system had been tested and approved, no documentation an automatic fire sprinkler system had been installed according to approved plans, no permit or signage for the approved occupancy of the room, an obstructed fire exit and a lack of proper fire safety hardware and exit signage.
In addition, DPP Acting Division Chief Timothy Hiu confirmed The Republik had yet to officially finish construction and obtain all the necessary paperwork needed to establish an approved occupancy rating.
"In this particular case, I can't take any action until they complete construction," Hiu said. "They haven't completed all the installation (of safety systems) required for fire under the building code. We have not certified it. And we can't issue a room capacity until they're finished. They have not met all the requirements."
When asked to address the occupancy issue, a representative for The Republik would not comment. The occupancy restriction also meant fans who purchased tickets to Friday night's "Totally 80's Live" concert with A Flock of Seagulls would be subject to requirements enforced by HFD.
Thursday's concert was part of The Republik's extended grand opening celebration, which kicked off with a sold-out performance by Death Cab for Cutie on Aug. 22 that drew an estimated crowd of more than 1,000 people. An Aug. 24 concert by Gym Class Heroes was canceled, however, after band member Travie McCoy was hospitalized shortly after arriving on Oahu.
Third Eye Blind fans who purchased tickets but were not able to enter The Republik are eligible for a full refund of the ticket price, less service fees, at the original point of purchase. Tickets bought online at www.groovetickets.com will be automatically refunded within three to five business days, less service fees.
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at email@example.com.