$95M Kailua-Kona development project set for completion in 2020

  • Kahu Danny Akaka Jr. and wife, Anna, at left, perform a blessing for Niumalu Marketplace as dignitaries look on Monday afternoon in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • Kahu Danny Akaka Jr. blesses the grounds where the 180,000-square-foot Niumalu Marketplace will be constructed dignitaries look on during a ceremony held Monday afternoon in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • Kahu Danny Akaka Jr. and wife, Anna, perform a blessing for Niumalu Marketplace Monday afternoon in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • Liberty Mutual senior real estate investment associate Kerry Reef looks on as Kahu Danny Akaka Jr. performs a blessing for the Niumalu Marketplace during a Monday afternoon ceremony in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • From left: JLL senior vice president and retail broker lead Hawaii Wendell Brooks, EM Rivera and Sons president Hiram Rivera, project manager Brad Oyama, Safeway Hawaii district manager George Glukfeld, Hawaii County Councilwoman Maile David, Hawaii County Councilwoman Karen Eoff, state Representative Nicole Lowen, Unlimited Construction president Jay Manzano, Hawaii County Councilman Dru Kanuha, Blue Vista Capital senior vice president of asset management Bryan Vrba, Hawaii County Managing Director Will Okabe, Sentinel Development owner and CEO Colby Durnin, Sentinel Development president and principal Thomas Reiter, Blue Vista Capital vice president Michael Raday, Liberty Mutual real estate private equity investor Matthew DePucchio, Liberty Mutual senior managing director and vice president Conrad Langenhangen and Liberty Mutual senior real estate investment associate Kerry Reef use o‘o to turn the soil during a groundbreaking held for Niumalu Marketplace. Pictured in front row, from left, are Ava, Landon, Raif and Bailey. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • The site of the Niumalu Marketplace is seen Monday afternoon in Kailua-Kona. The 180,000-square-foot shopping center that will be anchored by a 63,000-square-foot Safeway complete with 18-pump gas station (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today) (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • From left: Hawaii County Councilman Dru Kanuha, Blue Vista Capital senior vice president of asset management Bryan Vrba, Hawaii County Managing Director Will Okabe, Sentinel Development owner and CEO Colby Durnin, Sentinel Development president and principal Thomas Reiter, Blue Vista Capital vice president Michael Raday, Liberty Mutual real estate private equity investor Matthew DePucchio, Liberty Mutual senior managing director and vice president Conrad Langenhangen and Liberty Mutual senior real estate investment associate Kerry Reef turn (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • The site of the Niumalu Marketplace is seen Monday afternoon in Kailua-Kona. The 180,000-square-foot shopping center that will be anchored by a 63,000-square-foot Safeway complete with 18-pump gas station (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)
  • EM Rivera & Sons equipment sits ready at the site of the planned Niumalu Marketplace off Henry Street. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

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.

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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.

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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.”

  1. randy June 26, 2018 6:09 am

    I get that Safeway wants to sell gas, but who will fill all this space? Don’t we have a n abundance of empty building in Kona, soon to be joined by the K-Mart building? Also, living right next to this project, we don’t appreciate it when they start work before it is light out!


  2. Bill June 26, 2018 8:54 am

    Large empty Sports Authority space for years now, large empty Kmart space, many empty spaces at Kona Coast Shopping Center for years (which is just across the street from this project), empty office space for years and years next to the bowling alley (next to this project), soon to be empty Safeway space next to Walmart when they move………………….. all around town lots of empty space, but they need to build more??

    More like: “That’s got to be good for the local economy,” she said. “Twenty new [soon to be empty] storefronts here in town — that’s a big deal.”


  3. metalman808 June 26, 2018 9:06 am

    It would be better to build some entertaining things for the people. Like a marine museum or a water park, go carts, water slides. Something. But I guess not. We’re all just here to pay our politicians salaries.


  4. Brew June 26, 2018 9:11 am

    I have to agree that there is a lot of commercial space available around town. From Kona Coast to Keauhou Center. There needs to be some big anchor named stores to draw the smaller retailers. Safeway leaving will have a major impact to that existing shopping center. Macy’s is rumored to be looking at Kmart but what about the old Macy’s? Sports authority has been vacant for a few years and no interest in occupying. Something is wrong with many of these vacancies and that needs to be researched to figure out what the problem is. I’m not against the shopping center but is it necessary?


  5. Alan Silverman June 26, 2018 10:47 am

    All good points that, sadly, were overlooked in the article which seems mainly to be a love letter to the developers. Questions that came to my mind, but were not addressed: what will happen to the “old” Safeway location? What might be the impact to that shopping center without an anchor store? What does Foodland/Sack ‘n Save management think about another major competitor moving in? And while we’re at it, why has no supermarket considered building a location to serve the thousands of households north of Costco? Does Matsuyama have a lock on the grocery business between Kona and the airport? As for the abundance of empty buildings: I have heard that Old Navy is planning a Kona location, probably in the Sports Authority space. If that’s true, there are national merchants willing to open up shop here.


    1. Frequent_Runner June 26, 2018 6:46 pm

      In an article about this last year they said sack and save would move to the old safeway location.


      1. Alan Silverman June 26, 2018 8:00 pm

        Thanks. I missed that article last year. Now what happens to the Sack n Save space?


  6. Bill June 26, 2018 11:13 am

    Would like to see a Whole Foods go in at the old Sports Authority location.


  7. Big ideas June 26, 2018 5:05 pm

    Sounds like a white elephant shoppingcenter in search of a reason to open….we have the International Marketplace that sits near empt, K-Mart that is closing down, Keahou shopping center that can’t keep tenants due to the greed of the Hawaiian Trust overlords. The Volcano’s vog is destroying tourism and home values that will drive up unemployment and homelessness.

    This appears to be doomed to fail too.


  8. KonaDude June 27, 2018 4:00 am

    Kmart could be converted to a homeless shelter, Safeway could be a indoor farmers market.


    1. Vfaye June 27, 2018 10:02 pm

      The parking lot and bushes of Kmart already are a homeless shelter.


  9. Vesparado June 27, 2018 5:42 am

    Wow, what a bunch of Debbie Downers in this town. We’re talking progress, moving forward, shaking things up, and you’re all like let’s remain stagnant and never try new things. A bit more creativity in architecture would be nice, instead of more metal boxes. And maybe some entertainment draws would be nice. Keauhou could host a carnival, When the economy lags, do you sit there and suffer, or work it?


  10. Graystash June 28, 2018 6:47 am

    Yes there are a LOT of empty stores in the Kona area. That’s because business folks have come to realize that trying to open a business in Hawaii is just throwing large amount of $$$ away on top of a huge head ache just trying to get through the made up maze of getting a OK from the local Gov.


    1. Kia'i Mauna August 8, 2018 9:36 am

      Yeah. That’s why they should just stay away. Better without them.


  11. julianneh July 5, 2018 11:13 am

    We would really love a bookstore! Barnes & Noble, Borders or something.


  12. Kia'i Mauna August 8, 2018 9:35 am

    As Sports Authority, KMart closes. Progress, or just different people banking the money?


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