Downtown gears up for paint job


By COLIN M. STEWART

Tribune-Herald staff writer

First-floor Kamehameha Avenue storefronts running from Mamo Street to Waianuenue Avenue are those in the running to receive new paint jobs as a result of Hilo winning the Benjamin Moore Main Street Matters contest.

But before they can be included, the owners of each of the buildings along Bayfront must be tracked down to give their signed consent for the renovation project — something that might be difficult to achieve in the limited time remaining before the scheduled painting begins Jan. 6, according to Alice Moon, executive director of the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association.

It was announced in July that Hilo was one of 20 towns out of 130 across the U.S. and Canada that had been selected in the promotional contest after a period of online voting at www.paintwhatmatters.com. The details of how the new paint jobs would be doled out had not been announced until Wednesday evening’s DIA meeting.

Before announcing which buildings were being considered, Moon was careful to remind the 50-or-so attendees that the new coats of paint were not something that should sow seeds of jealousy among business owners downtown.

“Benjamin Moore Paint What Matters is a gift to us. Not every building is going to be painted,” she said. “So I’m encouraging you, as you go out and look at the area that’s going to be painted and think about this big, magnificent project that’s coming to Hilo, remember, it’s a shot in the arm. It’s a gift to all of us. Even if it’s not your building, or not your business. It’s a gift to downtown, and it will improve downtown for everybody — for the new developments, the businesses that aren’t even on the main street.

“So, let’s be grateful, let’s be graceful. This project poses a spotlight on all of us.”

Paint contractors have already inspected the various buildings in the downtown Hilo area and are working to submit quotes to Benjamin Moore, Moon said. Once those are received and reviewed, the company will make its final decisions as to which buildings will be painted.

“Some of it depends on whether there is surface area available, and whether the building owners are agreeable to it. Building owners and land owners in that area will have to sign off, as will their tenants,” she said.

“We encourage the businesses in those buildings to contact their landlords and owners as soon as possible because there are a lot of business owners in downtown who are absentee. Some of them live in Singapore. Some of them live in San Francisco. They are all over the world. So they’re not necessarily going to reply to a letter from Benjamin Moore. They may not even have an email. We may not even be able to find them.”

Once the final decisions are made, the painting process is anticipated to run from Jan. 6-27, with paint, preparation and labor to all be paid for by Benjamin Moore. In addition, the company will provide color specialists to recommend color schemes for participating buildings and stores. Or, owners may choose to keep their current color schemes, merely having the existing paint refreshed, Moon said.

In addition to the free paint jobs, those downtown businesses that were not included might be eligible to receive a voucher for $10 off per gallon for Benjamin Moore exterior paint for up to 10 gallons. That would also apply to building owners who want to paint their upper levels, as the free paint job only applies to first-floor businesses.

The DIA director added that she and other downtown organizers were excited about the timing of the contest award, as it coincides nicely with a project already under way to paint another in a series of murals located around the downtown Hilo area. Led by artist Kathleen Kam and various partner organizations, the effort seeks to paint a mural of the island’s endangered palila bird to raise awareness of its plight.

Kam said that organizers of the project plan to ask Benjamin Moore representatives about he possibility of partnering with them to complete the mural.

“This is a perfect opportunity to fit in with the slogan ‘Paint What Matters,’” Kam said after the meeting. “What matters most to us (on Hawaii Island)? This is part of our heritage and our culture.”

For more information about the Downtown Improvement Association and the Paint What Matters contest, visit www.downtownhilo.com.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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