KAILUA-KONA — A revamp of Coconut Grove Marketplace in Kailua Village is underway.
A couple decades after its opening, the retail center situated between Kuakini Highway and Alii Drive is undergoing a rebranding and revitalization to make the area, which already has a prime position in the core of Kailua-Kona, more attractive to potential customers.
“We are doing a complete renovation project,” said Mark Kindermann with SVN Go Commercial, the retail center’s local property management company.
The work includes a fresh coat of paint on the buildings spread out over the 5.5-acre parcel, new signage, restroom upgrades and improvements to the green space and volleyball court that fronts Alii Drive. Green barrier mesh currently lines the area.
That’s where crews are removing the old sand at the volleyball court, and are pouring 16-inch-high walls around it to provide seating. It’ll eventually be filled with new “super, high-quality white sand.”
“It’s going to be very nice when it’s in there,” Kindermann said.
More room for people will be made on the grassy slope that overlooks the court by creating tiers.
“Formerly, it was one slope and steep. People could sit on it, but it was not that comfortable and you were kind of sliding down the hill as you sat on it,” said Kindermann. “It’s going to be turned into levels with a flat area for people to sit on on the middle level.”
Above that, the local property manager said, will be new tables and chairs. A bocce ball court will be situated nearby, and the current owner is considering putting in a couple of putting greens.
“The location we thought was good for them may or may not work out,” Kindermann said.
Kindermann said Tinguely Development, which is handling the bulk of the project, has a goal to complete the work by Oct. 1, ahead of the Ironman World Championship on Oct. 12.
“Whether or not it’s done, we’re going to take down any fencing,” he said, noting that any work remaining will be minor. A fine mesh net will remain to ensure balls don’t stray from the play area.
Kindermann was unable to provide details on how much the retail center’s owner, J.H. Real Estate Partners, is paying for the project.
The 49,513-square-foot retail center opened in 1998. J.H. Real Estate Partners purchased the area in fall 2017 for $21.8 million. The seller, Hudson America L.P., a Dallas-based equity fund, acquired Coconut Grove years prior as part of a large portfolio transaction following foreclosure on the property developed by Anekona LLC.
The 0.33-acre volleyball court is state land leased by the retail center from the Department of Land and Natural Resources. In addition to recreation, the volleyball court functions as part of a larger drainage system for the marketplace, serving as a detention basin during heavy rainfall.
Along with the upgrades will be a rebranding campaign, said Kindermann. There’ll be new signage with a new logo, “selfie-taking” opportunities, and WiFi offering deals via a captive portal.
“He really loves the place,” Kindermann said of the owner, who lives in California. “The intention does not seem that it’s going to be some kind of flip like some people have speculated. He’s into it as a labor of love. … We’re just kind of rebranding the whole place and taking it up a notch.”
But, “up a notch,” does not mean super high-end. The retail center currently has 13 tenants and a couple of open slots.
“The intention is not to take it to like the Coach bag or Fendi level, but a little more above what is has been in the past,” he said. “There’s all kinds of little projects that are going on, and hopefully we’ll find the right people for a couple vacant spaces we have left and there are people already interested in a couple of them.”
It’s also hoped that more people, particularly cruise shippers, will be drawn to the retail center located about seven-tenths of a mile south of Kailua Pier.
“There’s a big share of people that just don’t come there so we’re trying to make it more attractive to get more people, to get more revenue for the tenants that are in there, and ultimately for the owners,” said Kindermann.
Artist Ernest Young, who operates the Colors of Paradise Gallery near the volleyball court’s edge, said he is looking forward to the work being done, though it may be a little loud in the interim.
“What they’re doing over here is great,” he said Tuesday. “I read what they’re doing and it’s going to be some nice major improvements to the property.”
The gallery, which features the work of Young and his father-in-law, the late Robert Thomas, has leased space at Coconut Grove Marketplace since 2008, seeing the retail center change hands a few times.
“They really take care of this area. I’m really happy to be over here,” Young said.
During construction, the Kailua Village Business Improvement District said it has secured a temporary venue for Hawaiian Sunset Saturday on Aug. 31 and Sept. 28.
On those two dates, the once-a-month community event celebrating Kona’s sunsets with live Hawaiian music and hula will be held on the Royal Kona Resort luau grounds.
As always, bring lawn chairs or beach mats for the festivities that get underway at 5:30 p.m. Coolers are not permitted.