Target Corp. finds its first location in Hawai'i at the Kapolei Commons shopping center project.
By Gordon Y.K. Pang, Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writer
Target Corp. has apparently found its first mark in Hawai'i at the Kapolei Commons shopping center project across Kalaeloa Boulevard from Home Depot.
Maeda Timson, chairwoman of the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, said Target executives at a meeting last week said they intend to put up a store on the 54-acre Kapolei Commons project being developed jointly by The MacNaughton Group and Kobayashi Group.
If the Target-Kapolei Commons deal comes to fruition, it would be the first foray into Hawai'i by the nation's second-largest discount retailer after more than a year of searching. The entry would be a welcome one to many O'ahu residents. A 2001 Advertiser poll ranked Target the retailer that Islanders most wanted to see open here. Target typically has not commented on speculation of where stores might go in Hawai'i. But yesterday, Brie Heath, spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-based company, issued a brief statement:
"Target is exploring sites in the Kapolei area and we routinely seek input from the community when considering sites for our stores. We have not finalized a site, therefore it is premature to speculate on a specific location or timing."
Developers, however, usually don't approach neighborhood boards requesting presentations and seeking approvals unless plans are firm, or close to final. Timson said Target officials asked that they be allowed to give a presentation at Wednesday's neighborhood board meeting, but a busy agenda forced her to push back the presentation until the March meeting.
Officials with MacNaughton did not return calls yesterday. Target apparently is also looking at developing a store in Salt Lake, although details on that project were sketchy yesterday.
While Target officials did not give specific details about their plans, Timson said, it was made clear "they're coming to Kapolei and they're going to be located in the shopping center that the MacNaughton Group is developing."
She added: "I thought it was pretty definitive."
Councilman Todd Apo, who represents the Kapolei area, said he also met with Target executives last week about the Kapolei Commons site.
"I think they've got a site that they're focusing on in Kapolei and I think they're trying to make sure they enter the community in the right way by talking to elected officials, neighborhood board members, the right community groups, about what concerns might be raised by someone like them coming into the area," Apo said. Last week, a representative for Laulani Village, a proposed shopping center in 'Ewa, confirmed that Target had pulled out of negotiations for buying a parcel there. Timson said Target officials told her while they aren't ruling out a store in 'Ewa in the future, their focus for West O'ahu right now is on Kapolei.
Timson and Apo said they both support in principle Target's entry into Kapolei, as well as its location at Kapolei Commons.
Timson pointed out that the proposed center is a short hop beyond the H-1 Freeway off-ramp leading to Kalaeloa Boulevard and Campbell Industrial Park, away from the often heavily congested Kamokila Boulevard through Downtown Kapolei.
"My major feeling is thank goodness it's on the other side of Kapolei," she said.
Apo said Target has a good reputation and would fill a niche in the retail market on O'ahu and be a good fit for the area.
"It's zoned for it, it's designed for it — I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be there," he said. Councilman Nestor Garcia, who represents Makakilo-Waipahu, said the fact that Target officials are going before the neighborhood board is a good indication plans are near completion.
"That sounds to me like a signal that they are serious," Garcia said, noting that he also spoke to Target executives about Kapolei Commons.
Brad Myers, president of Kapolei Property Development LLC and Aina Nui Inc., said the MacNaughton-Kobayashi venture has purchased a 23.6-acre site for the first phase of Kapolei Commons, and has a contract to purchase an additional 30.4 acres for a second phase.
The area is quickly developing. Besides the Home Depot across the street, it is next to The Advertiser's production facility and near a planned Costco that is going through the city zoning process.
Timson, Apo and Garcia said Target officials indicated they also are seriously looking at the old Costco site at Bougainville Plaza in Salt Lake and that a plan may be afoot to open two stores at the same time. Target has long been rumored to be interested in that site.
MacNaughton also controls the former Costco location. Grant Tanimoto, chairman of the Aliamanu/Salt Lake/Foster Village Neighborhood Board, said he has not heard from Target officials.
City Councilman Romy Cachola, who represents the Salt Lake area, said Target officials told him they were still looking at several sites in urban Honolulu.