New mall could change face of Koloa

By this time next year, construction could be well under way for a new mall in the heart of Koloa town planned to include five restaurants, a food store, bank, relocated post office, and lots of smaller shops and office spaces.

The Shops at Koloa Town is proposed at the corner of Maluhia and Koloa roads, directly across Koloa Road from the existing Old Koloa Town shops.

An application for a use permit has been filed with officials with the County of Kaua’i Planning Department, and a Kaua’i Planning Commission public hearing will be held on the matter, though not until early next year, said Stacey T.J. Wong, trustee for the Eric A. Knudsen Trust, the land owner.

“We will move as soon as we get permits,” including county building and grading permits, after the use permit is secured, he said.

Construction could begin as early as the third quarter of next year, with shops opening their doors within a year after that, he explained.

There will be in excess of 73,000 square feet of leasable space, 343 parking stalls and, according to Wong, enough customers to go around for the new shops and existing stores and restaurants in Koloa.

The Shops at Koloa Town “will make Old Koloa Town more of a destination,” with a larger “critical mass” and a greater mix of retail and food-and-beverage offerings, he said.

“The whole town is going to be better.”

The site is a forest now, bordered by Koloa and Maluhia roads on two sides, the existing Koloa post office further down Koloa Road, and the tennis courts of Anne Knudsen Park (Koloa ball park).

Arthitects have designed The Shops at Koloa Town to blend in with existing Old Koloa Town architectural look, and many of the existing, mature trees on the property will be incorporated into the center layout, he said.

Wong doesn’t think the new center will create gridlock in Koloa.

A regional traffic study of the Koloa and Po’ipu areas has been completed, with that information included in the application packet given to Planning Department officials, he said.

And, since most of the busiest times at the new center will be around dinner time, there shouldn’t be too much traffic impacts during the peak traffic periods of early morning and early afternoon, Wong explained.

“Our impact is very low during peak hours,” and, with 74 parking stalls designated for day office use and those stalls becoming available for night use by restaurant patrons, the number of parking stalls should be more than adequate for the project, he added.

The biggest parking load will be at night, when operators of the restaurants serve dinner, he commented.

Members of the Koloa Neighborhood Association have generally embraced the project, after their drainage concerns were eased, he continued.

Koloa Neighborhood Association members like the architectural design. “I think they liked it a lot,” Wong said.

Potential tenants also like it a lot, with representatives of major retail and restaurant companies, as well as small business people and officials with other entities looking for office space, all showing keen interest in the center, he said.

There will be 6,000 square feet of office space in the new center, which will be welcomed since there is a 0-percent vacancy rate in the existing and available office space in Koloa now, he said.

So far, no leases have been signed, but there has been “a lot of discussion, a lot of interest,” he said.

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