PEARLRIDGE CENTER
Kamehameha Highway and Kaonohi Street
Honolulu County (Aiea), Hawaii

The third shopping mall on the island of O'ahu was built 7.5 miles northwest of the Hawaii State House, in the Aiea ["iy-ah-ay"] section of Honolulu. It was adjacent to the the western stretch of the Queen Liliuokalani ["lee-lee-oo-oo-kuh-lah-nee"] Freeway / Interstate H-1, which opened to traffic in 1972.

PEARLRIDGE CENTER was to eventually occupy 51.8 acres of a 67.9 acre plot. The land parcel was shared with the 13.3 acre Sumida (watercress) Farm. An additional 2.8 acres were eventually utilized for the Kapi'olani Medical Center (1988).

A 2-level (109,000 square foot), Honolulu-based Liberty House became the first store to open at the site, on October 30, 1971. This store anchored a 2-level PHASE I mall, along with a 2-level (102,900 square foot) J.C. Penney.

PHASE I was officially dedicated August 9, 1972. Charter tenants included Ritz Store, Playwell Toys, DJ's Sound City Records, Foxmoor Casuals, Hickory Farms of Ohio, Hartfield's apparel, See's Candies, Spencer Gifts and a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor. A (17,000 square foot) Daiei ["diy-ay"] Asian Market was dedicated November 19, 1972.

A 2-level (185,000 square foot) Sears opened at the site in 1974. Built as a freestanding store on the southern section of the property, it became the anchor of a PHASE II mall complex, when it was completed in 1976.

PHASE II consisted of 3 retail levels. As it was being completed, a third level was added to the PHASE I structure. This additional floor housed a station for the new Skycab monorail. This .2 mile transit system connected the PHASE I and PHASE II structures.

PHASE III, which was a single-level strip center, also opened in 1976. It housed the Consolidated Theatres Pearlridge Theatres 1-2-3-4. This venue showed its first features on July 11, 1976. It was the first 4-plex cinema in Hawaii.

By this time, PEARLRIDGE CENTER included the 8-story Pearlridge Office Center, an freestanding bank building, and a 163,000 square foot retail annex, which was situated at the west end of the mall site.

Japan-based Shirokiya opened a PEARLRIDGE store April 2, 1981. It was located in what had been the Daiei space, in the Phase I mall. This store had been vacated when Daiei relocated to a new (120,000 square foot) Phase II store. The PEARLRIDGE CENTER Daiei closed its doors April 30, 1986. Shirokiya at PEARLRIDGE was shuttered March 18, 2001.

Shopping malls in the PEARLRIDGE trade area were all located in the city / county of Honolulu. These included ALA MOANA CENTER (1959) {8.6 miles southeast, in the Waikiki district}, WAIALAE ["wiy-uh-liy"] CENTER-KAHALA MALL (1954 & 1970) {12.1 miles southeast, in the Kahala district} and WINDWARD MALL (1982) {9 miles northeast, in the Kane'ohe district}.

A multilevel parking structure was built along with the PHASE II mall. It extended, over Pali Momi Street, to the PHASE III building. A second parking garage was added, west of Liberty House, in 1989. Third and fourth garages were completed, at the east end of the mall site, in 1990. With all these components in place, PEARLRIDGE CENTER encompassed 1,250,000 leasable square feet.

A second cinema complex was installed in the PHASE II structure. The Consolidated Theatres Pearlridge West Theatres 12 made its debut on November 20, 1987. It was expanded into a stadium seating house, known as the Pearlridge West 16, which opened December 18, 1998. At this time, the original 4-plex cinema, in PHASE III, was shuttered and converted into office spaces.

The 1990s brought another commercial competitor for PEARLRIDGE CENTER. The open-air WAIKELA CENTER {4.3 miles northwest, in / around Waipahu} was completed in 1993.

During 1996, the entirety of PEARLRIDGE CENTER was given a 3.5 million dollar face lift. At this time, the PHASE I mall was renamed UPTOWN; PHASE II as DOWNTOWN. PHASE III became PEARLRIDGE EAST and the western outparcel (with a new Circuit City) became PEARLRIDGE WEST.

Anchor store rebrandings commenced November 22, 2001, with the conversion of Liberty House to Macy's. J.C. Penney, who closed all stores in the Aloha State on January 10, 2003, left a vacant anchor on the east end of DOWNTOWN.

The store sat vacant for over a year. It was eventually subdivided into twenty-nine store spaces, with the newly-refurbished area referred to as UPTOWN II. Retailers began opening in November 2004. Tenants included Sharper Image, Guess?, Hollister, Abercrombie and Borders Books (which was shuttered September 12, 2011). The 2-level Borders space was divided. Level 1 was taken by T.J. Maxx, which opened May 17, 2012.

Built upon land owned by the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Trust Estate, PEARLRIDGE is the state's largest fully-enclosed shopping center. It currently features one hundred and seventy stores and services. Mall structures were acquired by a joint venture of New York City's Blackstone Group and Columbus, Ohio's Glimcher Realty Trust in August 2010.

The Simon Property Group created a spin-off Real Estate Investment Trust in May 2014. Known as the Washington Prime Group, it merged with the Glimcher Realty Trust in early 2015. A 49 percent interest in four malls (one being PEARLRIDGE CENTER) was sold to New York City's O'Conner Capital Partners.

A 33 million dollar renovation of the DOWNTOWN mall commenced in March 2017. Its interior and exterior were updated, its food court refurbished, and two freestanding stores added. New tenants included Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Lindbergh men's wear, Pieology Pizza and a Down To Earth natural foods grocer. The remodeling was completed in late 2018.

Sources:

"Pearlridge Center" article on Wikipedia
www.pearlridgeonline.com
http://www.staradvertiser.com
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.westernmassnews.com
The Honolulu Star Bulliten
www.hawaiithreads.com
www.hawaiistores.com
Honolulu County, Hawaii property tax assessor website