Puna Kai festivities set for Oct. 25; tenants should be open by Thanksgiving

  • This August file photo shows construction at Puna Kai Shopping Center in Pahoa. (Courtesy photo)

While a pre-launch celebration is planned later this month for the Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa, most shops in the development itself are expected to be open by Thanksgiving.

Developer Gary Pinkston said the paving, landscaping and exteriors will be done in time for the celebration, which is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at the new shopping center, 15-2714 Pahoa Village Road. Festivities will include a blessing, pupus and beverages, raffles, giveaways and entertainment.

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But only two or three of the tenants might actually be open during the kickoff event, Pinkston said.

Puna Kai has been in the works in Pahoa since at least 2013, when planners first began to develop the shopping center.

Sitting on 9.93 acres near Kahakai Boulevard and Pahoa Village Road, Puna Kai will feature retail, office, dining and entertainment space.

The development will be anchored by the 35,000-square-foot Malama Market, which will relocate from its current site in Pahoa.

According to Pinkston, Malama Market has faced construction delays — “primarily deliveries from the mainland” — and will open in January.

A Malama Market spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

However, Pinkston said, “Everything else will be open by Thanksgiving.”

But demand is high, he said, and there’s “such a dire need for retail and services that I think anything will be welcome.”

Tenant improvements are still underway.

Pinkston said he’s been doing this work for decades and “when you open a new shopping center with new tenants, you can never get them all to open on the same day, so this is just normal.”

But he’s still pleased with the progress.

Pinkston said previous property owners had spent several years getting the property zoned.

“We’ve owned it for less than two years, and we’ve built a shopping center in that time and leased it,” he said. It’s “unheard of in Hawaii to take a property from bare bones to open in two years, so we’re achieving marvelous results. Obviously, you always like it to happen sooner, but this has been outstanding.”

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In addition to Malama Market, as of Wednesday, other tenants of the shopping center include: Aloha Petroleum, Banzos, Black Lava Vape, CoCo Cantina, Cricket Wireless, Family Health and Wellness, Fitness Forever, Goodwill, Hilo Bay Realty, Island Photo, Jeans Warehouse, Kohala Coffee Co., L&L BBQ, McDonald’s, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Pahoa Veterinary Hospital, Pizza Hut, Popeye’s, Strato’s New York Pizzeria, Supercuts, SusHI, Thep Thai Cuisine and Under the Bodhi Tree.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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