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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Home Depot still seeks site in midtown

 •  Home Depot giving up on 'superblock' deal

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Home Depot is still looking for locations in Honolulu's central business district, despite the breakup of a tentative deal to buy the "Ke'eaumoku superblock" across from Ala Moana Center.

Home Depot spokesman Chuck Sifuentes said yesterday the company still believes that consumer demand would support a third Home Depot store on O'ahu.

The retailer has three stores in Hawai'i: one at Dole Cannery in Iwilei that is almost two years old, another in Pearl City scheduled to open July 26 and a third in Kahului, Maui, that opens tomorrow.

Late last year, Home Depot abandoned plans to buy a residential property in Hawai'i Kai after many residents spoke out against it and Mayor Jeremy Harris vowed to block rezoning.

The Ke'eaumoku site, bordered by Sheridan, Makaloa, Rycroft and Ke'eaumoku streets, posed more of an economic challenge for the company.

Real estate brokers said the difficulty in developing the "superblock" is its relatively small land area and high value, about $95 a square foot, or $35 million for the 8.5-acre parcel.

For a deal to make sense, they said, it would take a high-density project with more than one level, which is tricky for big-box retailers that need lots of space.

More complex projects, however, also have failed on the Ke'eaumoku site, leaving it vacant for more than a decade.

In 1989, Haseko Hawaii Inc., an affiliate of one of Japan's largest condominium developers, leased the property, intending to develop a condominium/office/retail project. But a slowing economy derailed a $400 million first phase.

Cleveland-based Forest City Development, a $3.6 billion publicly traded real estate investment trust, canceled plans for a $100-million-plus retail/entertainment complex at the site in late 1999 after theater operator Consolidated Amusement Co. instead chose to build a 16-screen multiplex at Victoria Ward Centers.

Wal-Mart had been negotiating a sale since January 2000, but backed out last month.

Andrew Gomes can be reached by phone at 525-8065, or by e-mail at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.