By Jen Russo
Construction and grading for the Maui Outlets shopping center in Kihei should be starting soon, said Douglas Gray, CEO of Eclipse Development Group. Eclipse owns the 75 acres located on the mauka side of Pi’ilani Highway at the Kaonoulu intersection that is under development. In February 2011 the Maui Weekly wrote about the acquisition and plans for the center. Since then Eclipse Development engaged FFO Realty to manage the retail leasing activity and hired Strategy + Style Marketing Group to handle advertising and public relations.
“When I acquired the land a little over a year ago the heavy lifting had been done,” Gray said. “In 1999 and 2000 the public hearings and rezoning of the land was done.”
Maui Outlets is planned for the 30 acres on the north side of the property. Eclipse Development is known for “de-mall”-ing: transforming older “malls” into more pedestrian-friendly “street market-themed” regional centers with retail space, but this will be the first outlet center it will be building from the ground up.
“Originally malls were created with big anchors,” Gray said. “In the 60’s and 70’s this worked because the big department stores sold everything, and the shops in between depended on that foot traffic. By the 80’s this changed and people were coming to malls for the smaller stores and people weren’t walking through the department stores. The retail evolution of these changes are reflected in our designs. We open up more pedestrian-friendly walking space, it’s not sterile. Now the anchors are theaters and food courts, destinations for shoppers.”
FFO Realty is experienced in the outlet market, and will be handling the leasing aspects of the outlet mall. The center will offer retail spaces from 20,000 square feet to 400,000 square feet, with water features and an outdoor dining area. Gray said he cannot reveal what retailers are in negotiations for lease space but they plan to have all of the major designer stores in the center. He said that so far he has gotten great response from prospective retailers.
“My job is to do the land justice,” Gray said. “Developers are usually the bad guys, but I am going to do this space right. We want to give some warmth to the site. We want to pay some homage to the culture and history in the design and appeal to both residential and tourist markets. We plan to create the ambiance for destination shopping and dining.”
Part of his agreement to develop the land is Eclipse Development’s commitment to complete the first segment of the extension of Kaonolulu Street on the other side of Piilani Highway. This will be the first phase of a new Kihei to Upcountry road.
The rest of the Kihei to Upcountry road will be completed by the state. The estimated cost to the project is $212 million. Dean Hayashida from the Department of Transportation said that only the design phase of this project has been completed, so there’s no construction schedule available. The environmental impact statement was completed in 2002. The current preferred plans for the road show it connecting to Haleakala Highway at the Hali’imaile intersection.
Eclipse Development plans to utilize local construction companies and knows how important job creation is to the Maui market. “We plan to use as much local labor as we can,” Gray said.