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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Maui retail center may expand

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

A California developer has contracted to buy Kahului Shopping Center from A&B Properties Inc. as part of a plan to redevelop one of the oldest retail properties in the Central Maui community.

Paul Quong, a former Kaiser Aetna executive from Orange, Calif., is proposing to acquire and rebuild the roughly half-century-old retail complex with a 30 percent larger shopping center that would also feature 28 rental apartments for seniors.

The estimated $35 million project, including the acquisition from A&B, is subject to permitting approvals, including a special management area permit.

Quong said he would like to retain as many existing tenants at the center, which is 92 percent occupied with shops, eateries and service providers such as Ah Fook's Super Market, Del's Farm Supply, a Salvation Army thrift store and The Ichiban Restaurant & Sushi.

Two popular Mainland anchor retailers have signed letters of intent, committing to open their first Hawai'i stores at the center, according to Quong, who said it was premature to identify the prospective anchors.

The center, which includes a separate abandoned theater building, would take about a year to rebuild, and increase from 99,700 square feet to about 130,000 square feet, excluding the rental apartments on a second level above the retail center.

Quong said he hopes permitting can be completed early next year, with the new center opening in 2005.

The redevelopment would improve an aging center with poor internal traffic flow, and attract more consumers who have larger shopping alternatives nearby at Maui Mall and Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.

Of the three retail centers, Kahului Shopping Center is the oldest, built by A&B predecessor Kahului Development Co. in the early 1950s as part of the then-developing master-planned "Dream City."

A&B said the center was the first "integrated shopping facility" west of the Mississippi when the first phase opened in 1951.

The center is the second-largest on Maui owned by A&B, a subsidiary of Honolulu-based Alexander & Baldwin Inc. A&B also owns Maui Mall.

Quong said he has developed about 3 million square feet of retail property in California since helping build shopping centers in the early 1970s as the head of Kaiser Aetna's retail division.

He said he became interested in doing business in Hawai'i during visits to see his sister before she died on Maui a few years ago.

Since then, Quong said he has been looking for residential property in Kula to retire, and also has agreed to purchase property from Hawaii Land & Farming Co. near Wailuku to build a roughly 190,000-square-foot commercial center in two phases as part of the largely undeveloped master-planned Kehalani community.

Kehalani Plaza, designed with a supermarket, drugstore and other retail and service businesses, is probably about four years away to allow for more homes to be built, Quong said.

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