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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Ward Centre seeks to add big retailer, anchor spot

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

As shops and restaurants continue to open at Victoria Ward Ltd.'s new entertainment center, the owner of the Kaka'ako shopping complex also is advancing plans to expand Ward Centre.

Victoria Ward said it expects to build a 25,000-square-foot anchor space that would be integrated into the 'ewa end of Ward Centre early next year, provided lease negotiations with a national retailer are completed as expected in the next few weeks.

According to Leslie Brown, Victoria Ward's leasing director, the retailer, which she declined to identify, could open as early as May or June 2002.

To make way for the single-level addition, four Ward Centre tenants have been advised they will have to move by the end of the year.

All four — Keo's At Ward Centre, The Ultimate You, the Moomin Shop and Tsuru Matsu An — have been offered relocation opportunities at other Ward sites. "We want to relocate them, and we think we'll be successful with every one," Brown said.

Kaka'ako Kitchen, which occupies a space on the 'ewa-mauka corner of the center, will remain where it is.

If a lease is signed, the anchor-space addition will reconfigure Ward Centre into a more traditional shopping mall layout as well as help solidify Victoria Ward's Main Street, or downtown urban, vision for its retail properties along Auahi Street.

"It's going to create a new traffic pattern," said retail analyst Stephany Sofos. "Any time you have a big anchor, it's going to pull people. More people will be browsing that side of the mall."

Ward Centre added a 30,000-square-foot Borders Books Music & Cafe in 1995, creating the first large anchor at the mall.

Sofos added that the proposed retail anchor will help customer traffic between Ward Warehouse, Ward Gateway Center, Ward Entertainment Center, Ward Village Shops and Ward Centre.

The project's location at on the corner of Kamakee Street and Ala Moana also will help draw traffic onto Kamakee from a new intersection at Ala Moana.

"That's going to be one of the most visible locations on the island of O'ahu," said Douglass Smoyer, president of Retail Strategies Inc. "It can do nothing but help them."

Victoria Ward has 400,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space in Kaka'ako. The newest addition to its property was the entertainment center, which opened in May with a 16-screen theater. Since then, a few smaller tenants have opened. Feature restaurant Dave & Busters will open Oct. 3. Several other restaurants and retailers will open soon.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.