First-run movies return to Kihei

Kukui Mall to gain upscale movie experience with reclining chairs, big screens and sound

A glass box office remains Tuesday at the Kukui Mall in Kihei as a reminder of the former Consolidated Theatres four-plex that went out of business in November 2012. New mall owner Houle Financial Corp. announced Friday that Regency Kihei Luxury Cinemas will take over the space, opening as early as the middle of this year. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Kukui Mall has been purchased for an undisclosed amount by Houle Financial Corp., a Maui company, and the Kihei mall’s former four-plex theater site has been leased to Regency Theatres, which will offer a “state-of-the-art movie experience,” according to an announcement.

Consolidated Theatres had been one of the mall’s anchor tenants for 20 years, ending in November 2012. The mall is located across from Kalama Park on South Kihei Road.

New mall owner Steve Houle said he was unable to say exactly when Regency would open the new theater, but he said Regency Kihei Luxury Cinemas was “moving very quickly on it” and could open as early as the middle of this year.

The old theater would be upgraded with “electric recliner luxury seating, first-run movies and a premium customer movie experience,” the announcement said. “It is being newly remodeled with fine finishes with an ‘island’ theme complementing its locale and featuring four auditoriums with wall-to-wall screens, Christie Digital projection, Dolby Digital Sound, spacious electric luxury reclining chairs with reserved seating.”

The theater also will offer special programming and events, extreme sports and surf films, community events and live broadcasts of operas and ballets.

A parking lot at the Kukui Mall, fronting its former Consolidated Theatre site, is barren of vehicles on Friday afternoon. New mall owner Houle Financial Corp. aims to return the shopping area to a high level of occupancy in 2019. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Founded in 1996, Regency Theatres is family owned and operated, and it has 28 theater locations in Southern California and one in Arizona, the announcement says.

Its California properties include the historic art deco Lido Theater in Newport Beach, the Village and Bruin theaters in Westwood and the Casablanca-themed theater, restaurant and bar in San Juan Capistrano.

Kukui Mall listing agent Chris Mullen of Colliers International said Kukui Mall is “a premium retail property located in the heart of Kihei.”

“With the addition of Kihei Luxury Cinemas by Regency Theatres, we expect Kukui to have extremely active leasing activity and return to a high-traffic, community-oriented retail center.”

Howard Kollinger of Crossroads Realty & Investments helped facilitate the property’s sale.

Houle said he’s in discussions with several restaurant operators to lease space at the mall.

“We expect the mall to return to a high level of occupancy in 2019,” he said.