County OKs plans for former Hilo Lanes

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald file photo Plans to build a gym and other businesses in the former Hilo Lanes building were approved by the Hawaii County Planning Department.

The county approved a Hilo businesswoman’s plans to turn the former Hilo Lanes building into a fitness gym and commercial center.

A May 16 letter from Planning Director Michael Yee to Lorraine Shin said conditions, including 138 standard parking stalls — of which five must meet Americans with Disability Act standards for accessibility and one complying with ADA standards for van accessibility — must be met before a certificate of occupancy will be issued for the property.


Plans drafted by architect Robert C. Smelker and submitted by Shin’s MS Petroleum Corp. call for 213 standard stalls, six of which are ADA accessible.

“The big hurdle was getting the approval — and we just got that last week,” Shin said Tuesday. “It’s pretty much a go, so now we can really become serious, so we’re going to move forward. We are very excited.”

Shin bought the 3.7-acre property — which includes a 37,292-square-foot main building area, 2,200-square-foot canopy area and 1,638-square-foot storage area in the back of the building — for $2.55 million in March 2018. She registered the trade name “777 Kinoole Center” — playing on the address of the Kinoole Street property, which is zoned general commercial.

A building permit for alteration of the building’s interior was issued Oct. 2. The county’s Real Property Tax website noted work started prior to the permit being obtained.

“We’ve already gutted the entire bowling alley, so everything has been removed,” Shin said. “We’ve removed all of the ceilings, the insulation — all of that has been removed. We’re working with plumbing contractors to move forward.”

Shin said her son, Jay Dee Penn, older brother of former two-division UFC champion fighter BJ Penn, is “taking the lead” on negotiating with businesses to occupy spaces in the former bowling alley, which was built in 1960.

“He’s looking at taking about 25,000 of the 38,000 square feet for the gym,” Shin said. “We’re also in negotiation with people who want to put in a food section, a salon and different things.”

Shin said the family’s current Hilo gym, Penn Training and Fitness Center, down the block at 639 Kinoole St., is “bursting at the seams.” The new gym, when complete, will accommodate the growth she foresees for the family’s fitness business.

“So many thousands of people have asked, ‘When is that new gym going to open?’” she said. “Right now, we’ve got about 2,000 members. With a year, a year and a half, we should be able to double our membership there.”

According to Shin, a health spa is in the works for the current gym location once 777 Kinoole Center opens its doors to the public.

“We’re very excited,” she reiterated.

Email John Burnett at

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