Parker Ranch center reopens
By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
WAIMEA, Hawai'i Parker Ranch Shopping Center is reopening after two years of expansion and renovations, with hopes it will help lift the island's biggest landowner out of the economic doldrums.
The ranch earlier this year reduced its staff from 76 to 55, prompted by fiscal problems caused by a four-year drought and other factors.
The reopening is regarded by the three-member trustee group managing the center as a revitalization of the land-rich, cash-poor trust.
The 121,000-square-foot center cost $18 million to expand and update, including a new roadway and parking improvements.
The major new tenant is a full-service, 31,500-square-foot Foodland supermarket that is expected to challenge the KTA Super Stores outlet less than a block away. Other additions include a Starbucks, Blockbuster, Dairy Queen and KFC.
Ranch spokeswoman Diane Quitiquit said the reopening has been a success, with 1,200 Waimea residents paying a $10 charitable fee to attend an official event last weekend that raised $12,000 for the community.
Darryl Mleynek, executive director of the Small Business Development Network at the University of Hawai'i-Hilo, said that without new types of businesses, the new center may be merely dividing business with the neighboring center across the main highway. That center is dominated by KTA, the island's largest grocery chain.
Meanwhile, the Waimea Community Association yesterday announced a June 6 meeting to discuss what leaders called "a wave of new development in Waimea."
The meeting will focus on the 400-unit Hawaiian Home Lands residential project and involve engineering, archaeological and planning issues. The meeting precedes the DHHL's filing of a final draft environmental impact with the state in the next two months. A joint development known as Holo Holo Ku began earlier this year with a 44-unit first increment of mid-market to upscale units.
The association also will hear an update on a project by Schuler Homes near the Waimea-Kohala airport on former ranch land.