Waikoloa Beach Resort adds $95M complex
By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Andrew Gomes
After a four-year delay, Waikoloa Beach Resort is building its long-planned retail and entertainment addition, a $95 million complex that will make the property more of a regional draw for Big Island visitors and residents.
The Kohala Coast resort recently began construction to add a gourmet grocery store, outdoor amphitheater, shops, restaurants, museum and a 120-seat performance studio for music and film.
Tenants with signed leases include Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, which recently opened its first Hawai'i location at Ala Moana Center; Marble Slab Creamery; Starbucks; and Local Motion.
Anchoring the project will be Island Gourmet Markets, a 20,000-square-foot upscale food store concept by Big Island supermarket chain KTA Super Stores and local convenience retailer ABC Stores.
The amphitheater with grass seating for 4,000 people, or about half the capacity of the Waikiki Shell, will be connected to a planned garden with displays reflecting Hawai'i's host and adopted cultures.
A couple dozen or so other merchants should fill out the 135,000-square-foot addition called Queens' Marketplace, which is scheduled to open next spring alongside the resort's existing 75,000-square-foot Kings' Shops.
Combined, the Waikoloa Resort shopping complexes will be roughly the size of Waikele Premium Outlets, or about 20 percent bigger than Aloha Tower Marketplace, on O'ahu.
In West Hawai'i, the resort's expanded retail center would rival the size of Kona's Lanihau Center. That center, in Kailua village, is 88,000 square feet and slated for a 147,000-square-foot retail and restaurant expansion.
An 82,000-square-foot retail center is also under construction at Mauna Lani Resort where initial tenants including a Tommy Bahama store and restaurant are expected to open next month. Ruth's Chris Steak House, Tori Richard, Starbucks, a gourmet food store and others are slated to follow.
'A MUCH GREATER BASE'
Joseph Toy, president of visitor industry consultancy Hospitality Advisors LLC, said the extent of retailing at Waikoloa Resort is extraordinary for a master-planned Hawai'i resort.
"It certainly is a lot of retail on the face of it," he said. "But you can see all the (residential and resort growth) that is taking place on the Kohala Coast. There is a much greater base to draw from."
Toy also noted that other major retail destinations are far from most Kohala Coast residential and resort communities, which enables Waikoloa Village to attract area residents and visitors.
Thos Rohr, president of Waikoloa Resort master developer Waikoloa Land Co., said 25 percent of Kings' Shops sales come from local residents, about 3,000 of whom work at the resort.
Another driver of resort retail sales is the rapidly growing population of wealthy vacation-home buyers at Waikoloa, Hualalai, Kuki'o and other resort communities on the coast.
The number of homes within Waikoloa Resort have increased from about 400 in early 2001 to about 900. Planned or under construction are another 432 homes, in addition to a time-share with 801 units.
"We're basically building a beach town for people on the Kohala Coast," Rohr said. "Our goal at Waikoloa was to be the gathering place of the Kohala Coast."
The critical mass of shoppers has translated to about $1,000 in sales per square foot of space at Kings' Shops, about three times the national average for shopping centers.
Strong sales in part led an affiliate of investment firm CoastWood Capital Group LLC to buy Kings' Shops in January 2005 for $90 million.
CoastWood also is a partner with Waikoloa Land in developing Queens' Marketplace.
SEPT. 11 CAUSED DELAY
Queens' Marketplace initially was slated to be developed in early 2002, but the negative impact on tourism from the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001, derailed the project.
Over the past couple of years, Waikoloa Land refined its plan for Queens' Marketplace, adding more commercial space.
Whether the project will be a success remains to be seen. Kings' Shops, when it opened in 1992 with 55,000 square feet of space, faced a long struggle during the state's near-decade-long economic malaise that challenged tenants such as Big Island Steak House, Liberty House and Roy's Restaurant.
In early 2001, Kings' Shops was extended by 20,000 square feet, making room for tenants including Louis Vuitton and DFS Galleria.
Rohr said there is still room to further expand retail offerings at the resort with another 50,000 square feet if desired, though Queens' Marketplace should be enough for at least the next five years.
Waikoloa Resort covers 1,350 acres and includes the Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel, Waikoloa Beach Marriott hotel, two golf courses and homes. Undeveloped sites include room for 27 holes of golf, a third hotel and a handful of residential sites.
Reach Andrew Gomes at firstname.lastname@example.org.