Some Puna Kai openings delayed due to Ige’s order

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Workers with Main Turf Hawaii lay down turf for a park last week in the Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Workers talk outside the Puna Kai mall's storefronts in Pahoa last week.

The COVID-19 outbreak will delay when some businesses will open for the first time in the Puna Kai shopping center, developer Gary Pinkston said last week.

“We’ve got several tenants that are stocked and ready to open, but legally we can’t do it, and it looks like we’re shut down until the end of May,” he said.

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Gov. David Ige recently extended a statewide stay-at-home order, initially implemented to limit the impact of the COVID-19 in the state, to May 31.

According to a list of tenants and projected opening dates provided by Pinkston’s company, Hilo Bay Realty has opened, while Goodwill, Supercuts and Forever Fitness are stocked and ready to open.

SusHI, Island Photo and Black Lava Vape will be ready to open by mid-May, but Pinkston said those openings will be postponed if the lockdown remains in place throughout the month.

Coco Cantina and Pahoa Animal Hospital are projected to open by June 1, while Kohala Coffee, Aloha Petroleum, Family Health and Wellness, Thep Thai Cuisine, Under the Bodhi Tree and Banzos are expected to open later that month.

Pizza Hut is expected to open July 1. The UPS Store and Cricket Wireless should open by mid-July, while Jeans Warehouse and the development’s anchor store, Malama Market, are expected to open Aug. 1.

Opening dates for O’Reilly Auto Store, McDonald’s, Popeye’s Chicken and Waikoloa Propane Company and Bon Bon have yet to be determined.

The county Department of Public Works said that temporary certificates of occupancy have been issued to Jeans Warehouse, Forever Fitness, Hilo Bay Realty, Meridian Pacific Offices, Supercuts and Goodwill.

When asked if there were any permits still pending for the project, DPW spokeswoman Denise Laitinen said permit applications under review are not made public until issued.

Located on 9.93 acres near Kahakai Boulevard and Pahoa Village Road in Pahoa, Puna Kai has been in the works since at least 2013, when planners first began to develop the shopping center, which 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.

Pinkston had previously anticipated the center would be opened before the 2019 holiday season, but earlier this year said there were “typical delays” and was expecting a May opening.

Now, because of the pandemic, he said there has been about a 30-day delay. Pinkston said some materials and items can no longer arrive by plane, and some workers have elected not to report to work.

It’s also taken time to get necessary permits and fire inspection approvals, he said, “just all the things that happen when you’re opening a $70 million project.”

Despite the ongoing pandemic and subsequent economic impact, Pinkston said tenant demand has been good.

“We haven’t lost one tenant because of the business slow down, which is pretty amazing.”

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A four-way traffic signal, located where the road intersects with Keaau-Pahoa Road just past the Pahoa roundabout, was installed as part of the project and has been operational for weeks.

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

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