Puna Kai development nearly done

  • Construction of the Puna Kai shopping center continues in Pahoa. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

HILO — Work on the Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa is about 80 percent complete, according to developer Gary Pinkston.

As part of the development, Kahakai Boulevard has been extended and paved, “and we’re now in the process of turning it over to the county,” he said.


A four-way traffic signal, located where the road intersects with Keaau-Pahoa Road just past the Pahoa roundabout, has been installed but is not yet energized. A state Department of Transportation spokesman said the signal is anticipated to be operational this summer.

It’s a “half-million dollar gift to the state and county as part of the development,” said Pinkston. “It’s all installed — just ready to light up once the streets are all accepted by the county.”

Sitting on 9.93 acres near Kahakai Boulevard and Pahoa Village Road, Puna Kai will feature retail, office, dining and entertainment space, according to punakaihawaii.com. The development will be anchored by the 35,000-square-foot Malama Market, which will relocate from its current site in Pahoa.

Pinkston said Malama Market will be “fully enclosed” by Aug. 1, and a grand opening for the entire shopping center will be held Oct. 1.

“We’re here to serve, so we’re offering up the shopping center, and we can’t wait to service the community,” he said. “It will be locally owned, locally managed and locally built.”

Just 5,000 square feet of the 120,000 square-foot shopping center remains to be leased, and Pinkston said he has a letter of intent for that space.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and I have never had a new shopping center fully leased as this one has (been) before completion.”

As of Tuesday, confirmed tenants for Puna Kai are: Malama Market, Aloha Petroleum, Chef TK/Lemongrass Cafe, Outrigger Coffee Co., Pahoa Veterinary Hospital, Black Lava Vape, Mixed Plate by L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Pizza Hut, SusHI, Under the Bodhi Tree, O’Reilly Auto Parts, McDonald’s, Jeans Warehouse, Family Health &Wellness Center, Stratos New York Pizzeria, Hilo Bay Realty, Maui Tacos, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Fitness Forever, Goodwill, Super and Banzos, a Hawaiian-style falafel restaurant.


“The success of this development is due to Mayor (Harry) Kim’s involvement and assistance,” Pinkston said. “He has been available 24-7 to assist in any way that we ask him.”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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