First tenants of A&B’s Port Allen commercial development move in

PORT ALLEN – Just about a year ago, representatives of Alexander & Baldwin Properties were staring full occupancy in the face where the under-construction Port Allen Marina Center was concerned.

It was late summer 2001, and the island was in the midst of equaling in terms of visitor arrivals and business solvency year-2000 results, which by all accounts were record-breaking.

The A&B Port Allen Marina Center along Waialo Road overlooking Port Allen Small Boat Harbor and the pier area was nearly fully leased, and was a year away from opening, said Cathy Camp, center project manager for A&B.

Then on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, events half a world away rocked the worlds of the tour-boat companies and others who had planned on moving into the center.

For the first time, probably since the first few days following Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992, there were no planes in or out of Kaua’i for over two days, and sources of revenues for the visitor-dependent businesses that had planned on moving into the new center dried up.

Eventually, business would trickle back to the island, but the short-term damage had been done.

Nearly fully leased turned nearly overnight into totally empty, Camp said.

So, when the first two buildings of the Port Allen Marina Center were blessed last week by the Rev. Richard Kamanu of Kapaa First Hawaiian Church, and the maile lei hanging from the entrance doorways pulled from the top of the doorways, tenants to occupy only around a third of the new square footage participated, said Camp.

But Realtor Trinette Kaui, the A&B Properties’ property manager and broker in charge, said there have been lots of inquiries about the remaining space, and she hopes the center will be half-full by Christmas, and totally booked sometime in 2003.

The center has 26,000 square feet, and Unlimited Construction was the general contractor on the $3.3-million project. Construction began in December of last year.

Signed tenants include Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventure, Blue Dolphin Charters, Holo Holo Charters, Blue Water Sailing, Kauai Coffee Company, Happy Honu Gifts and Kauai Chocolate Company.

A&B owns warehouses across Waialo Road, some 27,883 square feet in buildings called Port Allen I, another 13,398 square feet under roof known as Port Allen II, and 22,623 square feet in another building known as Steel Warehouse.

All of those are operating at 100 percent occupancy.

Close to the new Port Allen Marina Center will be an ocean-view restaurant, with the developer looking for an operator before moving forward with those plans.

The new buildings are all part of A&B’s first phase of its 80-acre, Port Allen master plan. The first phase involves around six acres.

Before performing the blessing of the two new marina center buildings, Kamanu remarked that it didn’t seem too long ago when he presided over the blessing of the groundbreaking ceremonies for the center.

He explained that during ancient times, only ali’i (ruling chiefs) wore the then-sacred maile, and it was believed that the leaves and roots of the plant in lei form carried the mana’o (knowledge) and strength of the ali’i with it.

Therefore, use of the maile lei in modern blessings is honoring an ancient blessing tradition, he said. Where before people would string maile across doorways, it was recently pointed out to him that blessings are asked for, and come down, from above, so it is more appropriate to attach the lei to the top of the doorway, allowing it to dangle down.

The removal of the lei connotes detachment of the umbilical cord from that force from above, signifying the tenants’ desire to survive on their own without that physical attachment, while still remembering that blessings flow from above, he said.

Finally, when he invited the tenants to pull the maile down, he told them the blessing isn’t totally completed until the maile loses all of its smell.

For information on leasing part of the new buildings, please call Kaui, 742-2774.

Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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