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Friday, October 27, 2000

Waikiki retail
complex breaks ground

By Tim Ruel

A Waikiki developer says its long-awaited $140 million retail complex will usher a massive presence on Kalakaua Avenue for some of the biggest names in high-fashion retail.

Honu Group Inc. plans to break ground today on the complex, called 2100 Kalakaua Avenue, which will feature eight separate, three-story retail "townhomes." The project, scheduled to open November 2002, will create about 250 jobs. Eight tenants have leased each building, the Honolulu-based developer said.

Honu President Thomas Applegate declined to identify the tenants. He said three of the stores would identify themselves today at the ground breaking.

According to industry sources, some of the names include high-end fashion retailers Celine, Tiffany, Gucci, Bali, Hermes and Chanel.

Applegate would not confirm or deny any names, but said the new tenants are positioning themselves for a long-term upswing in Hawaii's tourism industry.

Some of the retailers will be opening their biggest stores at the complex. "These are major, major corporate statements," said Tim Kobe of Eight Inc., which designed 2100 Kalakaua.

Most of the tenants have weathered the Asian financial crisis that cut eastbound visitors to Hawaii, Applegate said. The stores now think the real estate market has turned around and will support a long-term investment in Kalakaua frontage.

The development will total 110,000 square feet and take up nearly 300 feet along Kalakaua, across from Fort DeRussy. A 55,000-square-foot parking lot will front Kuhio Avenue in the back of the development, and may be redeveloped into more retail space in a few years. The "townhomes" will sit next door to Honu's King Kalakaua Plaza, which is anchored by Nike Town, Banana Republic and the All-Star Cafe. The sites should feed off each other and entice tourists who just want to shop a little, as opposed to Ala Moana Center, where visitors walk around all day, Kobe said.

The retail project is the largest to break ground in Waikiki in nearly two decades, Applegate said.

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