25 November 2023

Kukui Grove, Lihue, HI

 A extant asset

The island of Kauai has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  Maybe one day I’ll get to see that side of it.  But for my most recent (and only) visit to the Garden Isle, I was there just to see the town of Lihue and the island’s only major shopping center, Kukui Grove, before getting back to the bright lights of Honolulu.

Kukui Grove makes its home just to the southwest of Lihue’s city center, occupying a prime spot on one of the island’s most traversed intersections.  At 312,000 square feet, the open-air shopping mall is by far Kauai’s largest.  Macy’s serves as the only traditional anchor though it was recently joined by a full-size Target store.

Around the open air Kukui Grove.

Other major stores included in the lineup are a Times Supermarket, a Long’s Drugs and a Ross Dress for Less.  Inline stores include Gamestop, Fun Factory, and Famous Footwear.  Compact and built mainly as a straight main concourse with an anchor at each end, there’s nothing flashy or even notable about the design, but it still seems to be a popular destination for locals.

Kukui Grove Mallmanac ca. 2021. View the full PDF version here.

Kukui Grove opened in 1982 with 55 stores on a single level.  The mall was anchored by Liberty House, JCPenney, Sears and a large Woolworth outlet.  At some point within its early history, though I can’t confirm exactly when, a Kmart was added at the southeastern end.  The complex sustained significant damage from 1992’s hurricane ‘Iniki before losing JCPenney and Woolworth in the following years.

Macy's, Kukui Groves only traditional anchor.

A major renovation was commenced in 2001 that was supposed to reconfigure the shopping destination completely, with plans to de-mall Kukui Grove.  Though many upgrades were made, the reconfiguration was never completed, leaving the retail facility with nearly the same footprint as its opening day.

The sun shines on Kukui Grove.

Sometime after its departure, Sears took over the Woolworth space to have twin locations within Kukui Grove.  Unfortunately, these two locations were some of the first to shut down in Hawai’i, having closed permanently in 2013.  One location was replaced by a Sports Authority, which has since closed, and the other by a Ross Dress for Less.

Kukui Grove Mallmanac ca. 2023. View the full PDF version here.

In the early 2000s, the Honolulu based Liberty House was taken over and rebranded as Macy’s.  Soon after, JCPenney made the decision to vacate all of their locations within the entire island chain.  Their rather small location was taken over by Macy’s and was rebranded as Macy’s II, which is still open as of this writing.

More scenes around Kukui Grove, including the food court.

The most significant changes have just recently occurred.  The Kmart building, closed in 2018, was demolished and replaced with the island’s first and only Target store.  Other retailers rumored to be in the works are popular Asian supermarket H-Mart, fast casual clothing store H&M and Hawai’i based supermarket Foodland.  Hopefully these and more will move in and ensure that Kukui Grove has a sustainable future.

1 comment:

  1. gamestop in kukui grove closing 1/21/2024 for good