Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa nearly 100 percent leased out

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Work continues on a county water main Tuesday at the Puna Kai shopping center development on Pahoa Village Road in Pahoa.

In June, Puna Kai shopping center will hand over store pad sites to Malama Market and Aloha Petroleum for their own construction, the developer told the Tribune-Herald on Tuesday.

That will be followed by the vertical construction by the developer. The shop space suites for tenants that will co-occupy the shopping center will be ready for tenants’ build-out by the fourth quarter of this year, according to Gary Pinkston, president and CEO of Meridian Pacific Ltd., an investment and development company with offices in Honolulu and San Francisco.


“We’ll open Malama Market in early ’19. That’ll be in, like, March of ’19 — and we’ll open the entire shopping center at that time,” Pinkston said.

Puna Kai, at 15-2714 Pahoa Village Road, is a nearly 10-acre, $40 million project that will provide 103,600 square feet of new business and retail space adjacent to the current locations of Pahoa’s Longs Drugs and Burger King.

Site preparation began shortly before the planned shopping center’s October groundbreaking.

Malama Market will build to its individual design specs starting in June, once its 35,000-square-foot store location gets handed over. The grocery store will relocate from its current location in the Pahoa Marketplace.

Puna Kai has long been touted as a crucially needed business development for the district and Pahoa community. It’s expected to create jobs for young people just entering the workforce and for working adults.

The shopping center also has been praised because residents will have more shopping opportunities in Pahoa, rather than needing to drive to Hilo.

“We’ve been working with a medical tenant,” Pinkston said during a telephone interview from Honolulu. “If we get the medical tenant, we’re basically 100 percent leased.”

It’s rare for a new shopping center anywhere in the world to be fully leased at opening, he said.

The shopping center, at the intersection of Kahakai Boulevard and Pahoa Village Road — the former Bryson’s Cinders property — will be owned and managed by Meridian Pacific.

“We want to be a big service to the community,” Pinkston said.

He said Meridian Pacific also closed last week on property for a planned Waikoloa shopping center, and that location is already 85 percent leased. It is expected to open in 2020.


Other confirmed tenants at the Puna Kai shopping center include Under the Bodhi Tree, Chef TK, Fitness Forever, Goodwill, Jeans Warehouse, L&L Drive-In, Maui Tacos, McDonald’s, Strato’s New York Pizzeria, Sushi Rolls and Bowls, UPS and Umekes Fishmarket Bar and Grill.

Email Jeff Hansel at

  1. Kia February 7, 2018 6:30 am

    Hooray, except fro McDonald’s. Cheap food and low incomes are recipe for long-term health disaster. BK in this small town is enough fast food.

    1. F Kelly Finn February 15, 2018 1:09 pm

      L & L isn’t exactly health food either

  2. Kamaile February 7, 2018 7:03 am

    They also need to get some medical services in there as well to help serve the community.

    1. Steve Dearing February 8, 2018 10:15 am

      A Hospital with emergency room is essential for the people of Puna and the issue must be addressed soon.

  3. Steve Dearing February 7, 2018 11:22 am

    This indeed great news for Puna.
    Sadly, the State of Hawaii Highways Division destruction of Pahoa’s entrance has greatly harmed further investments in Pahoa. Further, the taxpayers were defrauded of hundreds of thousands of dollars for this disaster. When is Ige going to address his administration’s failure, fraud and waste of taxpayer money on this intersection.

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