New Maui Mall buildings win panel approval

WAILUKU – The Maui Planning Commission approved a special management area permit Tuesday for a T.J. Maxx store and another retail building on the southwest corner of the Maui Mall.

After getting building and other permits from the county, construction is expected to begin next summer, said Grant Chun, vice president of landowner A&B Properties Inc. Interior roadway, drainage, parking and landscaping improvements are part of the project.

Both new single-story buildings would add 31,940 square feet of shopping area to the 185,700-square-foot mall, said planning consultant Karlynn Fukuda of Munekiyo & Hiraga.

Commission member Penny Wakida asked about A&B’s thinking in adding more retail space to the mall, which has had tenant vacancies.

The mall’s vacancy has been running around 4 percent, Fukuda said. The mall does not have enough space to accommodate T.J. Maxx, and A&B would not construct the second building for more retail space unless there’s a market for it, she added.

The T.J. Maxx’s store location and the site for the second retail building are planned for the mall’s parking area off Kamehameha Avenue and across from the Jack In The Box restaurant.

While current parking spaces will be lost to the new construction, that loss would be offset by new parking at two locations, Fukuda said. One would be on the Paia side of American Savings Bank, and the other would be on undeveloped land on the Kahului Harbor side of the Wendy’s and the Kahului Ale House restaurants.

John Guard, owner of The Pet Shop in the Maui Mall, told commission members that T.J. Maxx would be a good addition to the mall.

“We’re excited to see this project. We think it’s a great project,” he said. “It does a great job of filling in a blank spot at the mall.”

The new store should help revitalize the mall, create more jobs and help draw customers, said Mark Martinez, store team leader at Whole Foods Market, a mall anchor tenant.

Commission member Warren Shibuya asked the developers to consider incorporating renewable energy and power conservation features into the project. He called it a “worthy project,” but he said there should be an understanding of the need for sustainable energy features.

Wakida asked for more shade trees to help cool Kahului, which often tops the state’s list of high temperature spots.

And commission member Wayne Hedani asked the developer to consider synchronizing traffic signals in areas near the mall to minimize traffic congestion.

The buildings’ architect is Riecke Sunnland Kono Architects. Architectural renderings show the new buildings’ design would echo Maui Mall’s existing structures.

The new T.J. Maxx store would be next door to Bank of Hawaii’s planned new 13,500-square-foot banking center at the intersection of Puunene and Kamehameha avenues. The $3.2 million banking center project received a special management area permit from the planning commission Aug. 27.

The bank building would include administrative offices, training and meeting rooms, automated-teller machines, parking and landscaping. It would replace Bank of Hawaii’s Kahului branch, which was built in 1951 on Puunene Avenue.

A&B’s 25-acre Maui Mall was built in 1971, according to the 2012 Hawaii Data Book. As measured by gross leasable space, Maui Mall currently is the island’s fourth largest shopping center, behind Queen Ka’ahumanu Center with 573,000 square feet of shopping area, Maui Marketplace with 315,000 square feet and Lahaina Marketplace with 208,000 square feet. The T.J. Maxx and new retail building will give Maui Mall 217,640 square feet of leasable space, making it the island’s third largest mall.

The mall is home to the Maui County Service Center and three dozen businesses, including the Maui Mall Megaplex Cinemas, Longs Drugs, Whole Foods and a dozen restaurants.

T.J. Maxx offers brand-name and designer fashions for discounted department store prices. Its offerings include women’s clothes, handbags and household items. There are three T.J. Maxx stores in Honolulu at the Ward Village Shops, Pearlridge Center and Pearl City Gateway. A store official at the Ward Village location could not immediately confirm that the Kahului T.J. Maxx would the first on a Neighbor Island.

* Brian Perry can be reached at