LIHUE — A historic building on Rice Street is scheduled for a makeover with hopes of revitalizing commerce in Lihue Town.
The old Kress Building, which was built in 1954 and was most recently occupied by the Salvation Army Thrift Store, will be available for retail, office and restaurant space in 2019.
Current plans for the 22,000-square-foot concrete building call for art, creative and local production-oriented uses with the possibility of expanding into event space with banquet and exhibition halls for food and live entertainment.
The recent purchaser of the property, JV D Two Lihue, LLC, is a new Hawaii domestic limited-liability company registered in Kilauea. Its legal representative, Ian Jung, spoke on the new owner’s behalf as attorney at Belles Graham Proudfoot Wilson and Chun, LLP.
The owner of the holding company for the property is an investor with ties to Kauai and an interest in spurring the resurgence of Lihue’s central business district and Rice Street, Jung said.
The interior of the structure is currently being cleaned, and proposed renovations aim to bring the old building up to current code, incorporating energy efficiency with built spaces for restaurant, retail, office, studio and storage facilities.
“I’m confident that the new owners of the Salvation Army Thrift Store building will become active and important participants in the Lihue Town Core revitalizations,” said Pat Griffin, president of the Lihue Business Association.
“Change is already underway along Rice Street; once the new owners of that important historic building restore the property and create new commerce there, their efforts will enhance the appeal and dynamism of the entire area,” Griffin said.
Near the Kress Building last week, Roger Braun worked on completing the water line upgrade to the former Ma’s Restaurant, adjacent to the KQNG Radio Group offices and studios.
“This is definitely not going to be a restaurant,” Braun said. “We’re upgrading the water lines. This is probably the new face of Rice Street. Where are people going to park?”
Denise Roberts of KQNG said the Ma’s Restaurant property was sold about a year ago, but the new owners couldn’t do work on the site until the permitting process was complete.
The new owner of the Kress Building is finalizing plans to submit to the County of Kauai’s Building Division and Planning Department for revitalization of the historic building. They appeared before the Kauai Historic Preservation Review Commission for comment on the proposed plans and will be working with the Planning Department to incorporate the commission’s suggestions during the permitting process.
The timeline for completing renovations is 12 to 18 months; however, total costs have yet to be finalized, according to Jung.
The Salvation Army purchased the building in 2004 and operated its thrift store there before closing in September. The Christian organization plans to open a temporary store at its Lihue Corps headquarters, 4182 Hardy St., in the future.
Across Rice Street from the Kress Building, workmen toiled to complete the project in the space formerly occupied by Don’s Camera and Jewelry, which moved across the street.
“Hale Kauai got this place from Isao (Yoneji),” said Dennis Marugame, plumber. “We’re just checking the water lines. This place is going to be a yoga studio scheduled to open in February.”