Safeway sizing up
Kapahulu property

Store officials are meeting with
the public to get feedback

Safeway is eyeing the former Love's Bakery site in Kapahulu and a neighboring strip mall owned by the Gouveia family, a 4.7-acre-property, the company said yesterday.

"Safeway would very much like to serve the community in and around Kapahulu," said Steven E. Berndt, director of real estate for Safeway. "We are confident we can bring more choice, greater convenience and better prices to them."

Art Store officials have begun meeting with community members to get their feedback and to discuss the mutual benefits of serving nearby neighborhoods, Berndt said.

"Our final decision about whether to proceed with this project will be based on these meetings," he said.

Safeway will host several public hearings before deciding whether to complete its purchase of the property, which is estimated in commercial real estate circles to be worth $20 million to $30 million. A deal for the land, which includes four lots, has not closed, nor has Safeway applied for a building permit with the city.

The company has not drawn specific design plans, but given the cost of the land and the size of the property, any retail development would likely offer 140,000 square feet of gross leasable space, said Stephany Sofos, retail analyst and commercial real estate agent.

If Safeway decides to pursue the project, it would be the largest retail center in Kapahulu, Sofos said.

"It would have a huge impact on Kapahulu," she said, adding that the project would probably triple the retail space on the site. Already located on the property are Turbo Surf/Surfhaus, Subway, JJ Diner Local Food, Love's Thrift Shop, Diamond Head Video, Elegant Nails and Hair, Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robins and a post office.

"It could come within two-thirds of the size of the huge Wal-Mart and Sam's Club that is being built in Keeaumoku," Sofos said.

From an economic standpoint the project would be a great success, she said, adding that it has the potential to pull a lot of business because it is in a major artery to Waikiki and there are no other well-designed retail shopping centers within a three-mile radius.

"They are sitting on a gold mine," Sofos said. "If it's designed well with adequate parking, I'd say the project is a slam dunk."

Some long-time Kapahulu residents, like Joan Martin Rodby, say they are excited about the possibility of another grocery store and more retail opportunities for the quaint community.

"A Safeway would be nice," Rodby said. "I'd use it if I could get across the street."

But others, such as some of the residents of Kapahulu Vista Apartments, which is across the street from the site, said they don't want the traffic. Kapahulu streets are constantly teeming with traffic from Waikiki, the University of Hawaii and visitors who come to shop in the many local mom-and-pop and boutique stores, they said.

A major retail project would only work in Kapahulu if it were designed carefully to address the community's urban density, said Patrick Skonecki, a member of the Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board.

"Our biggest concern is that whatever business is built there has to have adequate infrastructure to handle the increased traffic, sewage and drainage needs," Skonecki said.

If the project makes adequate infrastructure and traffic provisions, Skonecki said he would likely support it.

"I see a lot of pluses," he said. "A grocery store is a controlled environment. I'd rather have it there than some crazy business that will draw youth and gangs."

A new retail complex and shopping store would clean up Kapahulu and could also be convenient for Kapahulu's elderly community, he said.

"Right now it's an eyesore," Skonecki said.



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