KAILUA-KONA — The earth moved in Kailua Village Monday, as dignitaries and business representatives scooped the first shovel fulls of dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony for Niumalu Marketplace, a new commercial development in the heart of Kailua-Kona.
Safeway will relocate a few blocks makai and anchor the 14-building, 180,000-square-foot marketplace, which represents a roughly $95 million investment in West Hawaii. Niumalu Marketplace will be situated on 20 acres off Henry Street, adjacent to Lanihau Shopping Center.
Thomas Reiter, of Sentinel Development, explained the site plan is considerably more elaborate than a one-stop grocery shop.
“We really envision this to be the new community center,” he said. “So you won’t just come get your groceries and leave, but there’ll be some restaurants and some other interesting shops.”
As to how many storefronts developers will create, and what rent will run, those numbers are still difficult to project. Jason Schwartz, of Blue Vista Capital, ballparked the number of businesses likely to occupy the center at around 20.
National tenants not yet arrived to Kailua-Kona are likely to assume the larger spaces, he said, while smaller spaces will probably attract a combination of national groups and local groups that want to relocate to what he described as a congregational “centerpiece” the area has been missing.
Developers project construction of Niumalu Marketplace should create around 300 long-term, temporary construction jobs, with several hundred part-time and full-time positions available in the site’s various businesses once construction is completed.
A few characteristics of the site are already set in stone. Safeway will occupy a 63,000-square-foot building that George Glukfeld, Hawaii district manager, said will feature an expanded produce section and butcher block.
The larger space should also allow the store to at least double its workforce from the 100 people it employs now to between 200-250 employees when the new site opens.
“Safeway will open up in the first quarter of 2020,” Schwartz said. “By mid-2020, the whole center will be up and running.”
The grocery chain’s new makai location will also include an 18-pump gas station that Glukfeld said will offer fuel rewards and should prove “competitive” with the fuel operation a few miles north at Costco.
Schwartz credited Safeway in part with making the development viable, saying its presence had already aided in active discussions with a dozen potential tenants. And developers continue to look for prospective clients.
“Anybody that’s interested, we’ll talk to you,” Schwartz said.
Developers also credited Wendell Brooks, JLL’s Hawaii retail brokerage lead, as instrumental in the realization of Niumalu Marketplace.
Five buildings on site will range between 12,500-23,000 square feet, two of which will be two-story structures, and there will be a total of 758 parking stalls.
Reiter said site plans also include an outdoor community center in one corner of the property available for an array of different functions.
Wendy Laros, executive director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, was hearing the specs on Niumalu Marketplace for the first time herself Monday.
“That’s got to be good for the local economy,” she said. “Twenty new storefronts here in town — that’s a big deal.”