CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
At the Windward Mall celebration yesterday, the playground in front of Borders was dedicated by Al Landon, left, Bank of Hawaii chairman & CEO; Douglas Ing, Kamehameha Schools trustee & chair; Kaiulani Murphy, Polynesian Voyaging Society program director; and Bob Hiam, HMSA president & CEO. CLICK FOR LARGE
Windward Mall celebrates $23 million renovation
The additions are an effort to improve mall sales and occupancy
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The results of the long-awaited renovation of Windward Mall -- its first in 25 years -- were unveiled at a blessing ceremony yesterday morning.
Kamehameha Schools embarked on the $23 million face lift a year ago, adding new floors, improved lighting, custom murals, signs, sitting areas, a new escalator and children's play area to the mall.
It was an effort to boost revenue at the mall, which was not meeting its full potential.
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Kamehameha Schools marked yesterday with a celebration of its $23 million renovation of Windward Mall.
The 25-year-old mall underwent a common area face lift, with new floors made of natural stone and bamboo, improved lighting, artwork, signs, additional sitting areas, a new escalator and children's play area themed "The Hokule'a Voyage of Discovery."
Construction began last summer, took place during the night, and was officially unveiled at a blessing ceremony yesterday morning. It is the mall's first renovation since opening its doors in 1982.
» Built: 1982
» Owner: Kamehameha Schools
» Manager: General Growth Properties
» Size: 530,000 square feet
» Main anchors: Sears, Macy's, Regal Cinemas, Borders
» New attraction: The Hokule'a Voyage of Discovery indoor play area (for children 42 inches and smaller)
Source: General Growth Properties
"We're so proud that Windward Mall has been an integral part of Kaneohe for 25 years and trust that it will continue to serve as a special gathering place for residents for generations to come," General Manager Jonathan Kim said. "Through this renovation and the mall's recent leasing achievements, we're pleased to provide Windward Mall's loyal customers with the best stores, dining options and amenities available."
A new Borders, measuring 22,000 square feet with a Starbucks Café, has filled the spot left empty for the last 10 years by the departure of J.C. Penney.
Kamehameha Schools decided last summer to embark on the $23 million makeover to make the mall more competitive as well as to update its worn look.
Windward Mall is among Kamehameha Schools' top 10 assets, as is the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki, which is undergoing an $84 million renovation.
But sales were not at the top of their game, and occupancy at the mall last year was at only 84 percent.
Kamehameha Schools brought General Growth Properties in to manage the mall in 2004, and took a new strategy by offering a mix of national retailers along with longtime local shops.
It also brought in more restaurants, including Ruby Tuesday, Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor
and the International House of Pancake
s, which opened after a two-year delay.
Now the empty spots are filling up, with new tenants on the way, including The Children's Place, next to Borders, and Skin, a fashion boutique.
"It feels like we've come home," said Kamehameha Schools CEO Dee Jay Mailer at the celebration yesterday.
Mailer said it was important to honor Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who had inherited the historic He'eia district, and who had appreciated the sweet mullet raised in fishponds there.
She said it was important to pay tribute to He'eia's rich history by creating a more inviting and intimate 'home away from home' for the Windward community.
NEW BORDERS WING
The Borders wing, which once sat empty, is now a hot spot, according to Mel Furtado, owner of Koolau Pets
Furtado has been a tenant of the mall for 25 years, since it opened. He used to occupy a second-floor space, but has been on the ground floor of the current Borders wing for the last two decades and even expanded to 7,000 square feet.
"We had some hard times," said Furtado, referring to construction as well as the empty spots next door.
But now that there's an escalator instead of a staircase to take customers upstairs or downstairs, a new attraction with the children's play area, and Borders as a new anchor, he expects a boost in traffic.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Windward Mall celebrated the completion yesterday of its $23 million renovation -- the first in the 25-year history of the mall. Tatsuo Tengan of H&T Burgers gets some lunch plates ready. He and his wife, Hideko, have been at the mall for 22 years. CLICK FOR LARGE
At the same time, Furtado is proud to say he's managed to survive all these years due to loyal customers and extensive selection. Puppies have been the No. 1 seller, he said, along with dog supplies, but small animals, including his parakeets, also have been popular.
"This is the biggest change I've seen since I started here," he said. "This is probably the best management group we've had."
A line of eager children waited to test out the new play area, while at the Starbucks café, in Borders, which is still waiting for its Internet connection, customers were sipping their espressos and lattes.
"I feel that it's more homey," said Carrie Yam, who was with her daughter to try out the new play area. "We can relax on the couches they have and now can have a cup of coffee at Starbucks while the kids play."
Two other longtime tenants -- all in the Borders wing -- said they were glad to see the changes. H&T Burgers and Maruki Tei have been at the mall more than 20 years.
There is certainly more than one draw for their end of the mall today, a contrast to the empty spot left by J.C. Penney during the last decade.