By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
KTA is giving Puna another shot.
Jon McElvaney, a consultant working on a proposed commercial development for Pahoa, confirmed that he has been in talks with the Big Isle supermarket chain, which he referred to as being “first in line” to fill the 40,000-square-foot area reserved for a large grocery.
Still, he stressed that he has talked with other supermarkets as well and that no decisions have been made.
“We’re not ready to announce,” McElvaney said. “We have yet to finalize an agreement with somebody.”
KTA CEO Barry Taniguchi did not return multiple requests for comment.
The supermarket operates stores in Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Waikoloa and Waimea, but has yet to establish itself in Puna, considered to be the fastest growing area on the isle.
KTA had previously sought to open a store at the proposed “Orchidland Business Center” at Aulii Drive and Highway 130. But that development was killed in 2011 due to public opposition.
Other grocery stores in Pahoa include the Malama Market and Island Naturals.
McElvaney also said he has been approached by Walgreens but hasn’t talked with the drug store.
He doesn’t anticipate finalizing agreements with prospective tenants until the Hawaii County Council approves a change in zoning for the 9.93-acre property on Pahoa Village Road near Kahakai Boulevard. That could take a least a few months, assuming the council supports the proposal.
The $20 million project at 15-2714 Pahoa Village Road will also include medical and dental facilities, as well as restaurants and other retail.
The property is owned by Bryson’s Cinders, who McElvaney is working with on the project.
McElvaney said the development is being designed to reflect the character of Pahoa town, adding that local input has been incorporated into the plans. Buildings will be designed to match the “rustic plantation style,” he said.
The project could be complete in early 2015.
The development will also incorporate recycling of organic waste for fertilizer, bioswells and solar power.
The project has received the approval of the regional town steering committee for Pahoa and the Pahoa Community Plan Action Committee, McElvaney said.
He is also taking input on what businesses residents would like to see there.
Comments can be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.