The owner of Ward Centers is resuming construction of an 850-stall parking garage at the Kakaako retail complex after an 18-month delay.
General Growth Properties announced yesterday that work has resumed on the partially built structure, which is adjacent to Pier 1 Imports and includes more than 40,000 square feet of retail space once envisioned to be anchored by a Whole Foods Market.
The mall owner gave no estimate on when construction might be completed.
In September, General Growth said it had spent $112 million on the project known as Ward Village Shops and that another $49 million of work was needed for completion.
The garage will add long-needed stalls for the sprawling retail complex that includes Ward Warehouse, Ward Centre and Ward Entertainment Center. Finishing and leasing the connected retail space also will add new attractions for consumers.
General Growth had been plagued by the discovery of human remains on the Ward Village Shops site that led to significant construction delays. Work was halted in December 2008. Then in April 2009 General Growth declared bankruptcy, which froze payments to contractors.
Contractors had filed liens valued at $18 million against the property related to work they said they weren’t paid for. General Growth was working to resolve liens on numerous construction projects at malls around the country.
General Growth said yesterday the project’s original general contractor, Albert C. Kobayashi Inc., is resuming its role.
General Growth also said it is in discussions with several tenants interested in the retail space, though it didn’t name any prospective retailers. Whole Foods initially committed to opening a flagship Hawaii store in early 2008 at the site, but later decreased the size to 35,000 square feet from the original 67,000 square feet. In December, Whole Foods notified General Growth that it was canceling its store plan altogether because of the construction uncertainty.
Earlier changes to the Ward Village Shops plan included eliminating a planned rental apartment tower from the complex.
General Growth, which also owns Ala Moana Center and is the nation’s second-largest mall owner and operator, is still working to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The mall owner was forced to seek bankruptcy protection because it couldn’t refinance maturing debt.