Kailua-Kona sees new businesses, developments coming up

  • The future home of KFC is under construction in the Kona Coast Shopping Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The future home of KFC is under construction in the Kona Coast Shopping Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Grading work continues for Niumalu Marketplace behind Lanihau Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Grading work continues for Niumalu Marketplace behind Lanihau Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Grading work continues for Niumalu Marketplace behind Lanihau Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • New buildings in the BREW area of Pawai Place will house restaurants. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • New buildings in the BREW area of Pawai Place will house restaurants. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • New buildings in the BREW area of Pawai Place will house restaurants. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • New buildings in the BREW area of Pawai Place will house restaurants including Umekes. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The local area continues to be a hub of development and up-and-coming businesses, giving residents and visitors to the area increased opportunities to shop and enjoy themselves in Kailua-Kona.

At the beginning of August, energy systems company EnSync Inc. and its Hawaii subsidiary Holu Energy announced a 20-year power purchase agreement with Kona Brewing Co. for a solar-plus-battery storage system that is projected to generate enough energy to meet a quarter of the new brewery’s electricity needs.

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The agreement covers a system consisting of a 336-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the facility’s roof along with a 122-kilowatt-hour battery system.

The announcement from EnSync says the energy the system generates will allow Kona Brewing Co. to produce as many as 6,875 cans of “sun-powered beer” an hour.

On the construction side, the company has made “a ton of progress” in grading at the site between Kuakini Highway and Pawai Place, said Eric Chang, senior Hawaii market manager at Kona Brewing Co. Chang said the company’s plans are currently in the permitting process and they anticipate laying the foundation next month, with brewhouse installation to come early next year. The company has also publicized a live cam of the construction site online.

“We hope to have construction complete and first test runs of production mid-year 2019,” Chang said, “which is our 25th anniversary!”

Restaurants moving into new spaces

The new brewery isn’t the only excitement coming out of the Old Kona Industrial Area. Development also continues at BREW, a 6-acre site that Manini Holdings managing partner Mattson Davis said is envisioned as “Kona’s gathering place.”

BREW spans three lots around Pawai Place and is anchored by the Kona Brewing Co. brewery and pub at the road’s end. The site also includes the buildings currently referred to as the Brewery Block mauka and makai buildings and a 1.7-acre lot at BREW’s entrance.

Two local restaurants, Umekes and Sushi Shiono, have plans to move into new buildings on that 1.7-acre lot, with banners for both businesses already adorning the buildings’ exteriors. That lot also features space for outdoor seating, a restroom building and shade structure.

Sushi Shiono operations manager Yuka Kawakami said they don’t have a firm opening date yet for the new space, saying they are still waiting on permits.

Kawakami said the company will be moving out of its current space at Alii Sunset Plaza on Alii Drive and hopes to open in the new space early next year.

Umekes owner Nakoa Pabre said they’re hoping to open at their new space in February.

Pabre said they will still have two locations, saying they will be moving out of their current space on Kaiwi Street when they’re ready to open up at BREW.

The restaurant will continue to operate its original location on Hualalai Road.

Other local businesses are also looking at moving into BREW.

Ben Vanegtern, owner of Puna Chocolate Co. confirmed his company is opening a location at BREW as well, hopefully within the month of November, he said.

And Richard Ha, CEO of medical cannabis company Lau Ola, said they expect to open a dispensary in that area toward the end of the year.

Davis said they are also working with other potential businesses for the area as well.

And more than being only a site for businesses, Davis said BREW is also a place where people are encouraged to come together as a community. He pointed to events like Kona Town Night Market, which invite people to come out to the area and support local food vendors and crafters while also enjoying local art and talent.

Davis said the Kona Town Night Market slated for Nov. 10 will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the annual Ride the Breaks hip-hop cultural festival.

New marketplace

Work meanwhile continues at the site of the future Niumalu Marketplace, situated on 20 acres off Henry Street and makai of Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

Developers broke ground on the $95 million project in June.

The 14-building, 180,000-square-foot marketplace will be anchored by a Safeway, taking up residence in a 63,000-square-foot building. Safeway is currently located within Kona Crossroads Shopping Center, mauka of Walmart, inside a space measuring 46,130 square feet, according to a site overview of Kona Crossroads.

The new Safeway location is expected to open in the first quarter of 2020 with the whole center operating by the middle of that year.

Residents are also getting more opportunity to get fit and active in the community with a number of new fitness facilities coming to or expanding in the region.

Fitness Forever Hawaii in July expanded into the former Hilo Hattie storefront across Ololi Road and has plans to open gyms in Pahoa and Waikoloa. Planet Fitness, meanwhile, tentatively plans to open its Kailua-Kona gym in the old Borders bookstore space on Henry Street in October.

CrossFit Pohaku moved out of its old location off Alapa Street in the Old Kona Industrial Area into a 3,000-square-foot space next to The Club, just makai of the Lanihau Shopping Center and Kopiko Plaza.

The high intensity workout business has a symbiotic relationship with The Club, giving their members another outlet for fitness at special rates, and vice versa for Pohaku members.

“Coming over here has definitely increased our exposure as well as increasing our layout/square footage of training space,” Pohaku owner Andy Heubner said. “It does help to anchor, meaning we are right in between The Club and Fitness Forever, and making this the ‘fittest block on the west side!’”

To celebrate the opening, Pohaku will be hosting a grand opening party in the parking lot from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 31, featuring music and catering, featuring Ola Brew.

KFC meanwhile will be moving into a space in the Kona Coast Shopping Center on Palani Road, specifically the 2,067-square foot building formerly occupied by Wendy’s. KFC is currently located in an 1,822-square-foot space at Lanihau Center.

The Kailua Village Design Commission last September voted to forward a recommendation for approval of the project to the planning director.

A new building will also be coming up at Henry Street Landing, mauka of Kuakini Highway and along the south side of Henry Street.

Henry Street Landing, a little under 2.4 acres in size according to county records, currently hosts Starbucks, Jack in the Box and Aloha Island Mart.

In November 2017, a building permit was issued for a new 6,326-square-foot building with three bays along with related improvements, according to county records. The three bays are 3,000 square feet, 2,000 square feet and 1,326 square feet in size, according to a fact sheet about the anticipated structure.

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About 1,120 feet north up Kuakini Highway and a little mauka, a two-story, eight-unit condominium — with lofts over the second floor — is in the works on the south side of Ololi Road and makai of Kopiko Plaza.

The Kailua Village Design Commission recommended the planning director approve a proposal for that project in 2016. Meanwhile developments at other sites in town are still pending. Nancy Sakamoto, general manager of Kona Commons, said they are still working with local and national retailers regarding the space formerly occupied by Sports Authority, which closed in 2016.

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