Windward Mall in Kaneohe is going through a repositioning, with several new merchants moving in.

4 new stores to boost
Windward Mall revival

The mall attracts three
national retailers and
a local boutique

Windward Mall regulars Leighthan Luna, 15, and Ikaika Reppuhn, 17, peered yesterday through a large metal barrier fronting the new teen retail shop PacSun while workers stocked trendy surf and skate wear for the store's opening this Friday.

"We need more stores like this. Right now, I have to go to Ala Moana," Luna said.

The teens are part of the family demographic that Windward Mall hopes to carve out of the highly coveted market for Windward Oahu shoppers since General Growth Properties Inc., one of the nation's top mall managers, took over leasing and management of the property a year ago.

Chicago-based General Growth, which also owns Victoria Ward Ltd. and Ala Moana Center, is repositioning Windward Mall and has added seven new retailers since spring and is expected to raise occupancy to 87 percent by the end of the year, said Jonathan Kim, the mall's general manager.

The additional 18,000 square feet of tenant-occupied space will give the mall a significant retail boost, not seen since before J.C. Penney left Hawaii and Chun Kim Chow Ltd. closed its doors, Kim said.

"General Growth, with all its contacts, has gotten retailers to pick up the phone," Kim said.

Yesterday, Windward Mall announced that it has signed leases with national retailers PacSun, MasterCuts and Kay Jewelers, which will make its Oahu debut. The two stores that occupied the space where Kay Jewelers will open, Jade & Arts and Tech Zone, have moved to the other side of the mall's Center Court.

PacSun and Native Hawaiian Gear, a locally owned boutique that sells custom-embroidered accessories, are both opening next month, with MasterCuts and Kay Jewelers opening by fall.

Earlier this year, Windward Mall opened its first baby store, Caterpillar Kids, which offers new and consignment baby clothes, gear and toys, plus maternity wear.

Perfect Hands & Feet, which sells skin care products created from the Dead Sea in Israel, also opened a kiosk, paving the way for other business start-ups to participate in a kiosk program, slated to start in fall.

Renovations are also in progress on a 5,411-square-foot International House of Pancakes, or IHOP, which is targeted to open in October, becoming the chain's first Oahu location.

It's the first significant tenant revamp for the 23-year-old mall, which has struggled in recent years, Kim said.

"This is the start of something very good," Kim said. The new leases have come with a tentative commitment from Kamehemaha Schools, the owner of the mall, to renovate the common areas.

While it's too early to tell if changes at Windward Mall will transform the property into a stronger competitor, new tenants should create more of a draw, said Mike Hamasu, research director for Colliers Monroe Friedlander.

"In the past they languished because they didn't keep up with the market," Hamasu said. "Now, we are seeing the beginning of a turnaround, but it will require continued effort to reposition the mall and bring in more retailers."

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