FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
At Nordstrom Shoes in Ward Centre, saleswoman Irene Takamoto, right, helped Sylvia Armenian's daughters Jacqueline and Natalie yesterday. Takamoto has been a Nordstrom employee for 24 years.
store to anchor
The national retailer will displace
a trolley and eight restaurants
when it opens by 2008
Nordstrom Inc. said yesterday it plans to open a full-size department store -- equal to half the size of Kahala Mall -- at Ala Moana Center by late 2007 or early 2008.
The move, one of the largest retail openings announced this year, will expand Nordstrom's presence in Hawaii and increase Ala Moana Center's leased retail space by 10 percent.
"This is huge and it will have tremendous impact," said Andres Albano, a vice president at CB Richard Ellis Hawaii. "The locals will really celebrate the coming of this store to Hawaii."
The Seattle-based company said the opening of the three-story, 200,000-square-foot store will result in the closure of Nordstrom's existing shoe store at nearby Ward Centre, but the discounted Nordstrom Rack store at Ward Village Shops will remain open.
A trolley service and about eight restaurants will have to move to make way for the new store, which will front Kapiolani Boulevard on the mauka side of Ala Moana Center.
Nordstrom will join Ala Moana's 1.8 million-square-foot lineup of retailers, including Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Sears, said Dwight Yoshimura, senior vice president of management for General Growth Properties, owner of Ala Moana Center and Victoria Ward Centers.
"Our customers have told us for quite some time they would like to see a Nordstrom in Ala Moana Center," Yoshimura said. "We're excited that we can now provide it for them."
Nordstrom, which falls between Macy's and Neiman Marcus in price points, will complement Ala Moana's other anchor tenants and solidify the mall's market, Albano said.
"Nordstrom was the missing component," Albano said. "Now that they've succeeded, nobody can compete with Ala Moana. They are the big gorilla in town."
Nordstrom has been trying to open a Hawaii department store for decades, but ran into fierce resistance from Liberty House, Macy's local predecessor. Both Ala Moana and the Victoria Ward retail complex have been named as possible sites in the past.
"Ala Moana Center is the premier shopping destination in the islands and the place we've most wanted to be," said Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Inc. "We couldn't be happier that this is finally working out."
Nordstrom, which has had an island presence for 38 years, has about 80 employees between its Nordstrom Rack and Nordstrom Shoes stores. The new store will employ more than 400 workers, said Brook White, spokeswoman for Nordstrom Inc.
The Nordstrom in Hawaii will be larger than most mainland locations, White said, adding the company's department stores usually average between 140,000 and 165,000 square feet. Nordstrom operates more than 149 fashion stores in 27 states, she said.
"We have confidence in Hawaii, and Ala Moana is one of the best malls in the entire country," White said. "It has excellent demographics, a good tenant mix, and with sales per square foot exceeding $1,100, it has one of the highest sales ratios in the nation."
The opening of a full-line Nordstrom at Ala Moana Center will make one of the most successful retail venues even more successful, pulling shoppers from as far away as Kahala and Kapolei, retail analyst Stephany Sofos said.
"Anytime you build stuff that people want, you are going to pull your market," Sofos said. "Putting Nordstrom into Ala Moana is just going to solidify the area's retail base."
It's also going to improve choices and service for consumers, said Carol Pregill, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
"Retailers across the board thrive on competition," Pregill said. "Competition creates a better marketplace for businesses; everybody benefits from more consumers coming into an area. It also creates a better marketplace for consumers, who benefit from a larger selection of products."