Friday, July 01, 2022|
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Don’t let an empty storefront here and there fool you.
The mall in Hilo is more worried about running out of space for new businesses than it is about spots left open temporarily.
Planners at Hilo’s Prince Kuhio Plaza say they have so many pending tenants throughout the mall that space at the freestanding new building under construction at the former Hilo Hattie location is also almost fully booked — before it’s even ready for occupancy.
At the former Hilo Hattie location, said Daniel Kea, General Growth Properties general manager at the mall, one tenant will be a nationally known “food place” and another will be a well known “service provider.”
“It depends upon how the weather holds, if I can build that building fast enough or not,” Kea said.
There’s going to be space for four or five tenants where Hilo Hattie used to be. But two that have signed up already want 4,500 square feet apiece, meaning there will only be room for three businesses total in the building when it’s done.
The hardest part about four major and three or four additional, less-well-known tenants in the nearly full 70-tenant mall complex, Kea said, will be “figuring out space and where are we going to put them?” Only seven slots are open, with more companies than slots.
“We’re actually debating about building another building” in addition to the former Hilo Hattie site, Kea said.
A multi-million-dollar upgrade to the mall’s entry, lighting, flooring and roof is nearly complete. Kea said General Growth Properties appreciated the limited dollars spent for the size of the upgrade the mall got. Most upgrades at malls will cost between $10 million and $20 million, he said. But Prince Kuhio Plaza’s upgrade cost about half that amount.
Separately, multiple stores within the mall have undergone upgrades and several more plan renovations.
Kea said a potential well-known tenant is in line for the former Sports Authority location. Mall officials are also working on the possibility of bringing in a “virtual ride” they hope will be on-site by January.
“Shoes have been doing well for our mall this year in general,” Kea said. “The theater’s been doing well. Our food vendors have been doing well. Overall, it’s been a pretty good year for us.”
More foot traffic has flowed in due to the mall’s upgrade, he said, and he expects it to continue increasing as the new stores open in the coming year.
New store names have not yet been announced because some of the contracts still need to be signed on the dotted line. But most of the negotiation phase is over and announcements will likely be made during the first quarter of 2017.
“We have a whole bunch of things planned, most of which I can’t tell you about,” Kea said, with a coy smile.
Multiple stores, such as Hot Dog on a Stick and Dairy Queen, plan renovations, likely during the first quarter of 2017.
“It just surprises me how many are doing remodels,” Kea said.
“It seems like everybody is,” agreed Makanalani Guillermo, the mall’s property management associate.
“I don’t know if most of that is because they’re trying to keep up, because we’ve got new tenants coming in,” Kea said.
Renovations are planned at both smaller stores and big-name ones alike.
“Coming up soon, we’re going to be having a remodel,” said Isaaca Hanson, general manager of IHOP at Prince Kuhio Plaza. The complete remodel will result in all-wood floors, new seating and the possibility of an espresso-and-fruit bar.
“Our sales are up and steadily increasing,” Hanson said. “It’s a great community, giving them the best service possible, great food. We try hard to make guests feel like they’re home.”
The mall’s recent changes include roof fixes and upgrades, such as solar panels. Just changing light bulbs to energy saving ones, Kea said, has cut electricity costs by about 20 percent. He expects the newly installed solar panels to cut power costs another 30 percent or so. New skylights also make the inside of the mall seem brighter while at the same time cutting the amount of energy lost.
General Growth Properties manages 120 malls nationwide.
“I’m very excited for the next year. It’s going to be crazy. But it’s very exciting,” Guillermo said.
About 70 events are held each year at the mall, and Guillermo oversees them. For example, the craft fair planned for Dec. 9-11 is expected to include clothing, crafts, jewelry, oils and entertainment.
Kea also hinted about a weekly mall event coming up in January or February, if all works out.
“A lot of malls have experimented with farmers markets,” he said.
Email Jeff Hansel at firstname.lastname@example.org
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