Ground broken on ‘Taj Mahal’ of all Lowe’s stores

KAHULUI – Ground was broken Wednesday for a new and larger Lowe’s home improvement store at the Maui Business Park.

The new location will be along Pakaula Street, behind Wal-Mart and across from Target. It’s a short drive from Lowe’s current spot at the Maui Marketplace. The store will vacate that location when the new store is ready for occupancy in January.

The new store will be the “Taj Mahal” of all Lowe’s stores because it will be the company’s newest and feature more products, displays and wide aisles, said store manager Tyson Sacks and other store officials after Wednesday’s blessing.

The new store will have 94,000 square feet of floor space, or 22 percent more area than the 77,000 square feet of floor space at its current site, Lowe’s officials said.

Lowe’s has been at the Maui Marketplace since 1999 when Lowe’s acquired the Eagle Hardware & Garden company and took over its Maui Marketplace location.

Lowe’s is making the move because its lease is expiring at the Marketplace, said Tony Elias, the company’s director of construction and development. The new store will have LED lights and other modern features and provide customers with around 400 parking stalls. Construction could begin as early as Monday. Robinson Construction is the general contractor.

Asked if the newer and larger store would provide stiffer competition with nearby Home Depot, Sacks said: “We are not worried about them.”

Now, Lowe’s has around 175 employees and is hiring more to staff the new store, Sacks said.

According to Colliers International’s Maui market report for 2015, the departure of Lowe’s from the Maui Marketplace will leave empty a 145,000-square-foot space. Colliers is a global commercial real estate company.

Charles Buckingham, vice president of Maui Leasing Services for Colliers International, which handles leasing space for Maui Marketplace, said work is ongoing to market the Lowe’s space in the next 30 to 45 days.

Buckingham added that it would be preferable for one retailer to move into the Lowe’s spot, but that’s unlikely because of the location’s size. The commercial space will likely need to be divided, he said.

The Colliers market report noted rumors that there are several midbox-store retailers exploring the market for a store site.

As Maui Marketplace looks for tenants for the Lowe’s spot, the center will welcome two new tenants soon: Pearls Korean BBQ, which will open in the food court this summer, and Minit Medical Urgent Care clinic, which will open in May in the building that includes Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Sally Beauty Supply.

Construction work on the new Lowe’s store is the latest development in Kahului’s new commercial hub. Also this year, Pacific Pipe Co. broke ground in the Maui Business Park, said Grant Chun, vice president of A&B Properties. A&B is the developer of the Maui Business Park.

And, in March 2015, the nearly 140,000-square-foot Target store opened in the California-owned Puunene Shopping Center, just across from the new Lowe’s location.

Now, Pacific Pipe and Lowe’s are the only sites under construction in the Maui Business Park, Chun said. Other businesses that have purchased sites in the Maui Business Park are in various stages of design and permitting, he added.

Those businesses include American Savings Bank, which will be near Lowe’s, along with BMW, Servco Lexus and the new Maui County Service Center.

“We are looking forward to Lowe’s being a great anchor for the area,” Chun said.

As for the Puunene Shopping Center, it was recently acquired for $40.37 million by California-based Terramar Retail Centers from Safeway’s Property Development Centers, according to the Colliers report.

The report said Terramar is planning to add an additional 25,000 square feet of leasable area located in three new buildings. Terramar officials could not be reached for comment by phone or email.

Construction work appears to be going on at three spaces along Hookele Street within the Puunene Shopping Center. Those familiar with the development, but not authorized to speak about it, noted that one of the spaces is for Verizon and the two other spaces are not committed to retailers yet.

Verizon spokeswoman Heidi Flato confirmed that Verizon is planning a new retail store at the Puunene Shopping Center, but she did not have more details.

The Colliers report noted that Terramar Retail Centers acquired three shopping centers in Hawaii recently, all from Safeway’s development arm, Property Development Centers.

These included the Lahaina Cannery Mall, which sold for $60.27 million, and the Hokulei Village in Lihue, Kauai, the report said.

Terramar Retail Centers is based in Carlsbad, Calif. It has shopping centers in Seattle, Northern California, Portland, Ore., Los Angeles and San Diego.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.