Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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A new emerging Kailua town

Anchor tenants Target and Whole Foods Market are part of a contemporary-looking redevelopment

By Nina Wu


Some major new developments are blowing into Kailua town as construction continues for two major new anchors: Target and Whole Foods Market.

What once used to be a sleepy beach town (population: 55,000) with clusters of old, single-story buildings is now being redeveloped into a newer, more contemporary-looking destination — with an artsy touch.

Opportunities for redevelopment have arisen in the last five to six years as the land leases for 16 acres of land came up, according to Mitch D'Olier, CEO of Kaneohe Ranch Co., which manages property for the Castle family trust.

"There's improvement and investment replacing blight, and there's modern, energy-efficient facilities replacing 50-year-old buildings that have gone through their useful life," he said. "We've been doing improvements on a project-by-project basis pursuant to the community-based plan we did in 2003 and 2004."

Those plans are being carried out, according to D'Olier.

Fast-forward to 2011, and that means a brand-new building to house Whole Foods Market, along with smaller retailers.

It's all part of Kailua Town Center Phase III, which is right in the heart of town at Kailua Road and Hinano Way.

Whole Foods Market will measure about 32,000 square feet, and is expected to open in early 2012 between Longs Drugs and Mike McKenna's Windward Ford dealership.

Another 8,000 square feet of retail space is included for smaller retailers. Executive Chef, a local retailer offering high-end cookware and gourmet food, will open a brand-new store at the corner next to McKenna's, while fashion boutique Fighting Eel will occupy space next door to Longs.

What used to be a collection of smaller buildings measuring 70,000 square feet at the site was consolidated to 40,000 square feet in the new building. Parking spaces increased to 209 stalls, up from 167.

Just a block away, Target is also being built behind a construction fence at the former Don Quijote site. Target is expected to open a 130,000-square-foot store (including a stockroom) in mid- to late 2012.

Walk around Kailua town with D'Olier, and he'll point out all the ways the place has become more pedestrian-friendly.

The new Whole Foods offers outdoor dining and a shaded walkway above the public sidewalk that will make it easier for pedestrians to travel. A new sidewalk has gone in alongside the parking garage behind Longs Drugs.

Hinano Way, next to the new Whole Foods Market, will now connect Kailua Road to Hekili Street, home to a few new restaurants as well, including the relocated Boots & Kimo's.

D'Olier also points with pride at the mosaic art pieces that tie the newer buildings together with the fountain plaza near California Pizza Kitchen. Besides a "living wall," which is basically a garden on a wall, a stone sculpture designed by local artists representing a mo'o, or gecko, will flank the entrance to the new Whole Foods Market fronting Kailua Road.

While Target was welcomed with wide-open arms in communities like Salt Lake and Kapolei, several opposition groups formed in Kailua when the Minneapolis chain struck a deal to take over the Don Quijote lease.

Groups like Keep It Kailua and Choose Kailua started petitions and showed up to protest at public meetings, saying a big-box, mainland retail chain just doesn't belong in Kailua.

Their concerns: mainly traffic and competition for existing small businesses.

Before Don Quijote there was Daiei, and before Daiei there was Holiday Mart, so all along, said D'Olier, "it's been large-format merchandise through that period of time. It was zoned at the time Target bought the site."

Kailua is still home to a collection of small, locally owned boutique shops, including surf shops, arts galleries and BookEnds, one of the few independent bookstores that still exist on the island.

Many of the businesses are relocated due to new developments, while others, like the popular Brent's Deli, became history.

Still, no changes have been made to Kailua's 40-foot height limit.

There are still remnants of the old Kailua, including Pali Lanes, a dated bowling alley on Hekili Street, which will exist side by side with the newer, more contemporary-looking Kailua.

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