Whole Foods eyes Kahala Mall
The food chain's isle debut in the Ward area is delayed until 2009
Whole Foods Market is among several potential tenants speaking with Kahala Mall about the vacated Star Market space.
Though the space is smaller than the average Whole Foods store, occupying about 26,000 square feet, the chain does have similar-sized outlets on the mainland.
It has a 26,000-square-foot store in Richardson, Texas, as well as a 15,000-square-foot store in Mill Valley, Calif.
"We cater each store's size to the individual community needs, so size is flexible," said spokeswoman Marci Frumkin.
Ron Yoda, general manager of Kahala Mall, confirmed he has been in talks with Whole Foods for the past year, as well as with others. However, he said no decision has been made as to what will happen with the space yet.
Star Market closed its doors on March 10.
The Texas-based grocer's search for other Hawaii locations comes as the opening of the Whole Foods Market at General Growth Properties' Ward Villages site until 2009, according to Frumkin.
Originally, the Chicago-based General Growth had announced a fall 2008 opening.
The mixed-use site at Ward is expected to offer Whole Foods as a ground-floor retail anchor, along with a 17-story tower of rental housing above, other retail space and a parking garage.
Construction was delayed upon the discovery of 11 sets of iwi, or native Hawaiian bones, at the site.
The state recently approved a burial treatment plan after the Oahu Burial Council voted to relocate the iwi last year. After removal, they are to be stored in a trailer during one to two years of construction, and then reburied close to where they were discovered.
But the fate of the bones remains in dispute.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. is still pursuing legal action on behalf of descendants to halt the removal of the iwi, as well as to reverse the council's decision, said attorney David Frankel.
Whole Foods Market started out as a single, small store in Austin, Texas in 1980 before growing into a national chain with almost 200 locations.