KILAUEA — Yoshi L’Hote says having the options to walk or bike to the future Kilauea Lighthouse Village will be a great relief for the community.
The Kilauea Neighborhood Association president was among about 80 people who celebrated the groundbreaking of the 47,000-square-foot neighborhood center on Tuesday.
“Myself, at least, I look forward to coming and shopping here, L’Hote said. “We look forward to make the change a positive one.”
Hunt Companies, Inc., Hawaii division, a company that invests in businesses focused in real estate and infrastructure markets, is spearheading the project.
Kilauea Lighthouse Village will be anchored by The Market at Kilauea, a 10,000-square-foot neighborhood grocery store by the Sullivan Family of Companies, operators of Foodland, Food Pantry and the Kalama Beach Corporation.
“I’m very pleased that it’s (a Foodland company), said Beryl Blaich, a Kilauea resident who attended the ceremony. “I think they are truly a Hawaii company that gives back a lot. I know they’ll be open to community input and make an effort to buy local. With the ag park and a lot of small farming in Kilauea, that’s a really good opportunity.”
The village, situated on a 6-acre parcel fronting the Kilauea Post office, is slated to include Kauai-based Mexican restaurant Verde as well as Wyland Galleries.
Officials with the project said construction will take 14 months to complete, but said it’s too early to say when the shopping center will hold a grand opening.
The project will include an estimated 100 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs after its completion, said Steve Colon, Hunt Development Group Hawaii division president.
“We have said all along that residents of Kilauea, if they want get a half a gallon of milk, they would have to drive six or so miles up to Princeville to a very congested center because it’s the only major shopping area for the North Shore,” Colon said. “We believe that this center is going to provide a lot of conveniences for local families.”
One concern raised by the Kilauea community is increased traffic from construction.
“We solved that by putting in a bypass road that’s only going to be used by the construction workers. We think it’s going to be a huge thing to alleviate the traffic,” Colon said. “It’s going to connect to Kuhio Highway.”
Another concern was whether the project would move forward, said Kilauea resident David Dinner.
“I think now it’s a foregone conclusion that it’s going to be build,” Dinner said. “I have some concern that it’s going to a lot of impact on the local market here, but I’m very open to receiving it and seeing what convenience it will offer.”
The village will also add sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes to help improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety.
But residents say the village may create congestion in Kilauea after it’s developed.
“I think it’s going to relieve the traffic on the main highway, but increase the traffic in Kilauea,” L’Hote said. “That’s what we’ll be working on with planning and public works to make sure that it doesn’t become unbearable.”
L’Hote and Dinner hope the village will cater more to the residents than visitors.
“I really hope that a lot of the other businesses reflect the needs of the community,” L’Hote said.