Downtown face-lift begins Monday

Hilo’s downtown is getting a fresh coat of paint starting Monday.

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Hilo’s downtown is getting a fresh coat of paint starting Monday.

Paint company Benjamin Moore announced in June that Downtown Hilo will be one of 20 areas across the U.S. and Canada getting a paint job for the new year. The project is part of its 2013 Main Street Matters promotional contest. Hilo won the spot after a period of online voting at www.paintwhatmatters.com.

Priscilla Ghaznavi, director of color and design studio for the project, said starting Jan. 6, businesses running from Mamo Street to Waianuenue Avenue on Kamehameha Avenue will be painted a wide range of vibrant colors that she hopes will encompass the style and flavor of the community.

“The businesses will have an all-fresh, new exterior paint job and we hope it looks like a jewelry box of tropical color. We want it to be like another flower in the rainforest,” she said.

Ghaznavi and her team are picking from 28 colors ranging from a “Costa Rica Blue” to a “Pear Green,” and a light-blue “Tropicana Cabana” to a dark-brown “Kona” shade.

In addition to the free paint job, businesses downtown not included will be eligible to receive a voucher for $10 off per gallon for Benjamin Moore exterior paint for up to 10 gallons. The discount applies to owners who want to paint the entire building since the free paint job applies to first-floor businesses only.

For the past several weeks, representatives from Benjamin Moore have been working with local business owners and community members on the project and are looking to “stay local” by using HPM Building Supply as a local retailer and hiring local contractor Dion Kawakami for the project.

Ghaznavi also said the team has been getting to know the area in order to pick colors that give an accurate portrayal of Hilo.

“We wanted to get a feel for what the businesses were, how do they use color and come up with combinations that utilize and express Hawaii and Hilo as a whole,” Ghaznavi said.

Alice Moon, executive director of Hilo’s Downtown Improvement Association, has been helping the Benjamin Moore team familiarize themselves with the area. Moon said she’s been a “cheerleader” for the project since the beginning and anticipates the revitalization initiative will have a prepossessing impact on local businesses downtown and elsewhere.

“Kamehameha Avenue is the face of downtown. It’s shining a spotlight and putting a whole new face-lift on the town. And that’s what people see. It’ll draw more people into the rest of town, too,” she said.

Moon said the project came at the perfect time — just before the Lunar New Year.

“That’s one of the big things you do before the New Year. You clean your house and paint and freshen things up,” she said.

The Lunar New Year starts in February, and project managers estimate everything will be complete by the end of the month, pending cooperative weather.

Ghaznavi and her team are setting up a booth for the First Friday’s Art Walk. She’s offering free painting advice to the community and encourages any interested individuals to bring a picture of their home and a point of inspiration with them at the time of the consultation.

There will be a “first paint stroke” ceremony from 1-3 p.m. Monday at the Mooheau Park Bandstand. Mayor Billy Kenoi and local business owners will be in attendance.

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For more information about the project and the Downtown Improvement Association, visit www.downtownhilo.com.

Email Megan Moseley at mmoseley@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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