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Kailua the latest aim for new Target store

The retail giant hopes to overcome residents' traffic concerns before building its fifth outlet

By Kristen Consillio


Target Corp. plans to invest $40 million to build what would be its fifth Hawaii store in Kailua.

The Minneapolis, Minn.-based retailer has acquired the lease on Hahani Street land where a Don Quijote now sits to build a 130,000-square-foot store scheduled to open in July 2012.

However, traffic could be a deal breaker, according to Mitch D'Olier, president and chief executive officer of landowner Kaneohe Ranch Management Ltd. Target is conducting a traffic study because of residents' concerns about the already congested main thoroughfare.

"Target will not go forward if traffic doesn't work," he said. "We're all working to see if we can make it work, but it's not a done deal. It doesn't make any sense for Target to open a store where nobody can get to them."

Traffic is the biggest concern among residents in Kailua, which already has roughly 120 retail stores. Another mainland chain, Whole Foods Market, plans to open a 32,000-square-foot store at Kailua Town Center next fall.

Kailua Neighborhood Board member Derrick Fenske, 41, who lives in Coconut Grove, opposes the retail giant's entry in the beachside community.

"The town is too crowded with cars, and this is only going to add to that problem," Fenske said. "The character of Kailua is constantly being degraded."

Target is particularly sensitive to retaining Kailua's "unique village feel" in the store's architectural character, said Sarah Bakken, Target's communications manager.

"We want to make sure we really fit into kind of the fabric of the area," she said. "This particular site has not seen a lot of reinvestment in the past year. Target will help drive positive and long-term economic development in Kailua."

If traffic is workable, Target will complete its design and seek building permits, D'Olier said.

"If we thought that this would hurt small businesses, we would not proceed because that's like doing something against our own economic interests," he said. "Quite frankly what makes Kailua special is all the great little tenants we have. Target would just provide a lot of new shopping convenience for Kailua residents."

D'Olier estimates the project would generate between 100 and 200 jobs for 12 to 18 months of construction and more than 100 permanent positions. He also said the big-box chain is looking at other sites for expansion on Oahu.

"If it's going to create more jobs in Kailua, then it would be something that we look forward to," said Enchanted Lake resident Jon Chinen, 29, also a member of the Kailua Neighborhood Board.

The Kailua store would be significantly smaller than typical Target stores. In Hawaii they range between 150,000 and 160,000 square feet in Kapolei, Salt Lake and Kona. Target plans to open another store about the same size next year in Hilo.

"It's essentially village size rather than metropolitan area size," said Kailua Neighborhood Board member Debbi Glanstein, who has lived in Kailua for 47 years. "I've seen many, many changes—this is not the worst one. I'm kind of looking forward to it."

Eight tenants near Don Quijote will likely relocate as part of Target's plans, D'Olier said.

Kaneohe resident Bob Twogood, owner of Twogood Kayaks Hawaii Inc., which leases about 1,600 square feet, said the move will make operating his business, which opened in 1981, more challenging.

"There is no place in this world where you can go to where change will not happen," he said. "The nature of life is going to be change. You do what you can to direct it, and what you can't direct, you adapt to."

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