Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Wal-Mart buys

The huge retailer plans a megacenter
on the 10.5-acre Keeaumoku property

By Tim Ruel

After years of failed deals for development at the Keeaumoku superblock in Honolulu, giant mainland retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. today completed its purchase of the property, a spokeswoman said.

"Yes we have closed," said Cynthia Lin, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart. A purchase price for the property, bordered by Keeaumoku, Rycroft, Sheridan and Makaloa streets, was not disclosed.

Wal-Mart plans to build a double-decker megacenter on the land with a Wal-Mart and a Sam's Club, along with groups of smaller shops along Keeaumoku, Lin said. The megacenter could open by late 2003 or early 2004. A groundbreaking has not been scheduled.

Wal-Mart agreed to buy the vacant 10.5-acre property earlier this month from the Wichman Family Trust. Trust representatives could not be reached for comment today.

Wal-Mart is represented locally by commercial real estate firm Colliers Monroe Friedlander. A company spokesman was not available to comment.

The purchase would establish a major Honolulu presence for Wal-Mart, which has stores in Kunia and Mililani, a Sam's Club in Pearl Highlands, and a contract to buy 20 acres of city-owned land in Manana for another Wal-Mart.

The purchase marks the end of several years of speculation on who would buy the superblock, which has sat undeveloped for a decade.

In 2000, Wal-Mart announced a previous agreement to buy the site. The deal later fell apart for financial and market reasons, though Wal-Mart retained an interest in the site, Lin said.

Last year, Kmart Corp. announced a plan to buy the superblock and open a 175,000-square-foot store, but that purchase fell apart after the retailer filed for bankruptcy.

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