Department of Liquor Control to lease office space in Kona

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Just a decade after opening, the West Hawaii Civic Center has reached its brim and a Hawaii County department is again leasing office space in Kailua Village.

The Hawaii County Council on June 2 approved a four-year, 11-month lease for space to house the Department of Liquor Control at Hanama Place in Kailua-Kona, with an option for an additional four years, 11 months.

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The department is vacating the space at the West Hawaii Civic Center off Ane Keohokalole Highway to make room for expanding the Office of Corporation Counsel in West Hawaii. With no additional space remaining at the county building, Liquor Control will be moving into an area the county previously leased before consolidating offices at the civic center in 2011.

The County Council also approved $35,000 to furnish the new office.

Liquor Control Director Gerald Takase said the department plans making the move by July 1.

“The county building was filling up, and it was easiest for us to move because Corp(oration) Counsel wanted to move because they are going to start stationing deputies in West Hawaii,” said Takase.

Three deputies will be moving into the office space in addition to Corporation Counsel Elizabeth Strance, who will split her time between Hilo and Kona.

“Most of our operations are at night so they see the space sitting empty during the day,” Takase said of the decision to move his department.

“I wasn’t fighting them on it because it will make it easier for us being down there,” he continued. “Most of our licensees are in that area, so instead of having to drive over from the civic center, the investigators can just walk the beat now.”

Takase hopes being in the new location will increase enforcement in the area, since most of the establishments they enforce are on or near Alii Drive in Kailua Village.

Even though Takase couldn’t divulge details of the lease, telling council members during the June 2 meeting that the leaseholder, Puna Plantation Hawaii Ltd., asked for the financial information to remain confidential. Takase did note the department got a “good rate” and were happy with the results.

Takase on Tuesday told West Hawaii Today that the lease is actually a little lower than what the county was paying for the space in 2010.

“We are paying the county rent at the Civic Center, about $48,000 per year, so I said I needed to keep it in that range,” he explained. “We are a special-funded department. We don’t draw funding from the county like other departments — all our money comes from liquor fees.”

He said the new location will house two offices, one will be for the investigators and the other to hold meetings and classes.

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Because the department is typically a night-time operation, the office will not have daytime hours or offer walk-up services.

Email Laura Ruminski at .lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com

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