Mall unveils plans for old JCPenney space

[ JCPenney Ala Moana ]The now vacant 220,000-square foot space once occupied by JCPenney at Ala Moana Center will be subdivided to house at least 30 smaller shops and restaurants, mall management announced yesterday. The closure of most JCPenney department stores earlier this month made a notable physical and financial dent in the local retail industry, particularly for malls like Ala Moana Center where JCPenney was an anchor tenant.

Perhaps reflecting the economic realities bearing down on larger, national retailers, General Growth Properties, owner and manager of Ala Moana Center, said it plans “to transform the building into space for multiple retailers instead of one large store.”

The announcement ends speculation that the space might have been a future home for Target or more notably Nordstrom, which has been flirting with the idea of a full-size Honolulu location for years. (Presently, Nordstrom operates smaller stores like Nordstrom Rack and Nordstrom Shoes.)

The company apparently hopes to look outside the islands for many of its new tenants, promising “one-of-a-kind retailers that would be new to Hawaii.”

“Not only do we have an important responsibility to thousands of dedicated local shoppers, but we have a responsibility to millions of international and mainland tourists,” said General Manager Dwight Yoshimura. “Finding space for new and exciting retailers who would like to be in Hawaii has always been a tremendous challenge.”

All but the Maui store of JCPenney closed their doors for good on Jan. 10. Over 400 employees lost their jobs.

The former JCPenney space at Pearlridge Center has been taken over by INspiration Interiors, which also plans to split the space with other retailers.

A replacement tenant at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo has not yet been announced.

Ala Moana boasts annual sales of more than $1 billion and visitors numbering in excess of 40 million. General Growth Properties — the country’s second largest shopping center owner, manager and developer — counts the center among its 169 malls in 41 states.

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