MOANALUA CENTER
Bougainville Drive and Vanderburgh Steet
Honolulu City & County (Naval Station Pearl Harbor), Hawai'i

The year 1954 brought the Territory of Hawai'i its first two mall-type shopping complexes; MOANALUA CENTER and WAI'ALAE ["wiy-uh-liy"]  CENTER. These were built in the northwestern and southeastern environs of Honolulu and were both community-sized, open-air facilities.

MOANALUA CENTER was constructed on a 15.2 acre parcel, located 2 miles northwest of the 'Iolani Palace (Territorial Capitol Building), in central Honolulu. The mall site was within the Naval Station Pearl Harbor military base.

Developed by the United States Navy, under the auspices of Moanalua Manor, Limited and Moanalua Terrace, Limited, the mall was built to serve military families residing at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, as well as the adjacent Hickam Air Force Base. Honolulu's Alfred Preis designed the structure, with assistance from the Harland, Batholomew & Associates firm of St. Louis, Missouri.

Plans for the shopping complex were announced in October 1953, with construction commencing in February of the following year. MOANALUA CENTER originally encompassed 68,000 leasable square feet and, when fully tenanted, housed twenty-two stores and services.

An official dedication was held August 19, 1954, with eleven stores and services opening their doors. In attendance were Farrant L. Turner, Secretary of The Territory of Hawai'i, and Rear Admiral C.E. Olson, Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District.

George Freitas, President of the Moanalua Manor and Moanalua Terrace corporations, cut a ceremonial ribbon. Music was provided by Ken Alford's Dixie Cats. Free balloons, orchids and pastries were handed out. Festivities included square dancing and a hog-calling contest.

Anchoring MOANALUA CENTER was a (19,400 square foot) Foodland supermarket. Charter tenants included Sav-Mor Drugs, Ka-Ma-Aina Shoes, Elizabeth's Pastry Shop, Kay's Beauty Salon and Tony's Barber Shop. An (11,600 square foot) Ben Franklin 5 & 10 held its grand opening October 1, 1954.

The complex incorporated elements of International, or Ultra-Modern, architecture. Native building materials, such as lava rock, were used extensively. Storefronts were fashioned from large expanses of plate glass, encased in aluminum framing. A 300-foot-long pedestrian mall, with eight concrete planter boxes, bisected the shopping center.

Over the years, very few changes were made to the basic structure. It was never substantially renovated, even when a major regional shopping hub opened in its vicinity. The first segment of PEARLRIDGE CENTER {2.6 miles northwest} was dedicated in August 1972. 

Throughout its history, MOANALUA CENTER remained a small, community-class retail facility, even though it was located near the confluence of two major thoroughfares; the Kamehameha and Nimitz Highways.

In 1980, a section of the Queen Lili'uokalani Freeway, a.k.a. Interstate H-1, opened to traffic. This stretch of superhighway passed within 900 feet of MOANALUA CENTER. However, access between mini mall and freeway was difficult, which made it inconvenient for potential shoppers to navigate between the two.

By the late 1960s, the Ben Franklin store at MOANALUA CENTER had morphed into an S. H. Kress. This store went out of business in 1981. Foodland was in operation until 1996. Its vacant space, and the store formerly occupied by Sav-Mor Drugs, was reoccupied by Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor. 

By the early 2000s, MOANALUA CENTER housed stores and services such as Calvary Chapel, Airiang BBQ, Cheerleaders Sports Bar, Jesse's Bakery & Coffee Shop, Kanebo Cosmetics, Family Law Center and a combination A & W Root Beer-Long John Silver's.

The US Navy, who owned the shopping complex, wanted to establish a consolidated Navy Community Support Services Center for base personnel. The shopping center site was deemed a perfect location for such a facility.

Different scenarios were pondered, with a renovation of the existing structure given consideration. In the end, it was decided that it would be more feasible to raze the 1950s-vintage retail complex and build from the ground up.

A joint venture, with Honolulu's MacNaughton Group, was established. They would oversee redevelopment and lease retail space at a newly-built complex. The final operational stores at MOANALUA CENTER closed in June 2005.

Demolition got underway in July of the same year. Ten peripheral structures were left standing. These included KFC, Jack In The Box, McDonald's, a Chevron filling station, 7-11 convenience store and Navy Aloha Center office building.

Ground was broken in August 2005. Two strip-type buildings were constructed, which encompassed 30,800 square feet of retail. These were flanked by a 2-level (65,500 square foot) Navy Services Center.

The first tenants in the 20 million dollar MOANALUA CENTER opened for business in August 2006. The tenant list would eventually include Ruby Tuesday, Loco Moco Drive In, Yummy Korean BBQ, KOA Pancake House and Subway, as well as Starbucks Coffee, Baskin-Robbins ice cream, Vitamin World, Ken's Cleaners and Pearl Family Dental Care. 

Sources:

"Moanalua Shopping Center, Photographs, Written Historical & Descriptive Data" / Historical American Buildings Survey, Pacific Great Basin System Support Office / National Park Service / Oakland, California / Compiled by Erika L. Webb / 2004       
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog / David Franzen
http://imagesofoldhawaii.com / Peter T. Young
http://www.bizjournals.com