Community opponents pledge to continue fighting after Kaneohe Ranch sells the site of Don Quijote to the retailer
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 1, 2011
After three years of planning, Target Corp. will begin construction this spring on a 130,000-square-foot store in Kailua.
But that will not stop community opponents from lobbying for changes to the plan.
Landowner Kaneohe Ranch said yesterday it sold the 311,000-square-foot Don Quijote USA Co. Ltd. site at 345 Hahani St. to Target on Friday despite opposition among a vocal group of residents who fear the big-box giant will change Kailua's small-town charm, bring more people into the quiet neighborhood and cause further traffic congestion.
"Kaneohe Ranch and Target would like to think this (opposition) is dying away and people are forgetting about it and that's not so," said Lanikai resident Mollie Foti, a member of Keep it Kailua, which she said will continue to lobby the city to delay building permits.
"If they would consider a smaller store, I think there wouldn't be the depth of resistance to it," Foti said.
The Kailua store will be smaller than Target's four other Hawaii stores and is designed specifically for Kailua, according to Target spokeswoman Sarah Bakken.
"That is a significant change to what we would normally do in a market like Hawaii," she said. "That was in direct response to the fact that we knew Kailua wanted a smaller store."
The Minneapolis-based retailer plans to invest $40 million to build what will be its fifth Hawaii store, generating 250 construction jobs and more than 250 jobs at the store, scheduled to open in July 2012. Target will open a location in Hilo this July.
A significant part of the Kailua square footage is to enclose the loading and stocking facilities within the building, which will minimize noise to neighboring businesses and residents, Bakken added.
STORE NO. 5» Address: 345 Hahani St., Kailua, current location of Don Quijote store
» Anticipated grand opening: July 2012
» Store size: 130,000 square feet on a 7-acre lot
» Project cost: $40 million (estimated)
» Parking stalls: 400
» Employees: More than 250
» Construction jobs: About 250
Source: Target Corp.
In addition, Target has tried to assuage the community's fears about traffic, pledging to spend more than $1 million in traffic improvements for the area, including a new traffic signal at Hahani Street, new left-turn lanes and crosswalks, and reducing the number of driveways to the shopping center from five to two. It also will complete a traffic study after the store opens to see whether further improvements are needed.
The retailer has a team working on the merchandise for the store to make sure to incorporate local products and Asian goods, which many Kailua residents say they will miss once Don Quijote closes on Saturday , leaving more than 100 employees jobless.
Another mainland chain, Whole Foods Market, plans to open a 32,000-square-foot store at Kailua Town Center next fall.
"Because it's somehow a natural foods store, it seems more conducive to our small town than a huge big box," said Lanikai resident Virginia Enos, a Kailua neighborhood board member.
Kaneohe Ranch said the smaller tenants on the Don Quijote site will be moved. The retailers include Hakuyosha Dry Cleaners, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Yum Yum Express, Ba-Le Sandwiches & Bakery and Twogood Kayaks Hawaii Inc.
"We are faced with the fact that many of the commercial leases in Kailua town, which were negotiated in the 1950s and '60s as 50- to 60-year leases, are now coming to an end," said Mitch D'Olier, Kaneohe Ranch chief executive officer.
"In quite a few cases, these properties have deteriorated substantially in the final years of these leases, and the current leaseholders cannot or do not want to negotiate a new lease. Don Quijote was looking to sell its lease and therefore was not interested in maintaining or upgrading the property. Target will invest millions in one of the most run-down properties in the center of Kailua town."
Of about 50,000 Kailua residents, opponents estimate at least 4,000 oppose Target, said David Kim, owner of Oiwi Ocean Gear in Kailua, and an organizer of Choose Kailua, one of three groups opposed to Target.
Kim said he was disappointed that Target did not take community concerns into account as much as he would have liked. But now that the sale is finalized, his group will focus on the bigger master plan for Kailua, including traffic issues, he said.
"Target should partner with small businesses in Kailua," Kim said. "So they do become a partner in the community rather than what seems like a threat to small businesses."