Ala Moana Center
Ala Moana Center in Honolulu is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii, the fifteenth largest shopping mall in the United States, and the largest open-air shopping center in the world. Located at 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, Ala Moana Center is part of the commercial, retail, and residential district of Ala Moana, south of Makiki, east of Kaka Ê»ako, west of WaikÄ«kÄ« and across from Ala Moana Beach Park. In 1959, Ala Moana Center became the largest shopping mall in the United States, only to be overshadowed years later by new retail developments across the nation. General Growth Properties of Chicago, which used to trade on the New York Stock Exchange as GGP, currently owns and operates Ala Moana Center. The company uses photographs of Ala Moana Center as its flagship banner image on the properties page of its company website. Over 56 million people visit Ala Moana Center annually. Though there are a few stores (such as Longs Drugs and Sears) which offer products to local residents, many of the Center's stores target the tourist economy on which it so heavily relies. The shopping center focuses its marketing on tourism, providing brochures in Japanese, one of its major clientele. There are more than 290 shops and restaurants, including boutique stores of leading international fashion designers. Its current anchor tenants are Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Sears, and Nordstrom. The Center boasts one of the world's largest food courts, featuring cuisines from around the globe. Designer stores, such as Bulgari, Prada, Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Hermès, and the like have heavily influenced the atmosphere of Ala Moana, reportedly making it a hotspot for visitors and locals alike. In a June 26, 2009 report from US News and World Report, Ala Moana was ranked as the second most profitable mall in America based on sales per square footage, and also had one of the highest occupancy rates: "Ala Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii. (Occupancy rate: 95 percent*; sales per square foot: $1,125). This upscale shopping mecca near Waikiki is a gold mine, with annual sales of more than $1 billion. While other malls are struggling to hang onto tenants, Ala Moana recently added a new wing with 30 additional retailers."

Previous to its construction, the land was a swamp. Dredging projects nearby spearheaded by Walter F. Dillingham created excess coral which filled the swamp, purchased by Dillingham in 1912 from the estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Land reclaimed, son and successor Lowell Dillingham initiated the Ala Moana Center project in 1948 and broke ground in 1957. The Ala Moana Center was developed and designed by Don Graham. Critics viewed Graham's unusual design, which oriented the mall away from the Pacific Ocean and included two levels for retail and parking, as a potential failure. However, the Ala Moana Center proved a success after its opening and refocused the retail center of Oahu away from downtown Honolulu. Graham worked as the center's first general manager after its opening. Heralded as the largest shopping mall in the country when it opened in 1966, its original tenants included Sears, Roebuck and Company; F. W. Woolworth Company; Foodland; Longs Drugs; and Shirokiya, among other local shops. Ala Moana Center's earlier expansions including the 1966 addition of J. C. Penney and Liberty House in a new Diamond Head wing. The Makai Market food court was built in 1987. A 1999 expansion created a berth for Neiman Marcus and creation of more upper level retail spaces. A shopping complex and parking spaces were demolished just north of the shopping mall in 2006 to make way for General Growth's latest expansion project. Ala Moana Center's newest addition is the mauka wing, completed on March 7, 2008 and anchored by Nordstrom. In 1982, Ala Moana Center was purchased by a partnership of Japanese corporation, Daiei, and an insurance company. In 1995, Daiei became the sole owner. Once a mere management vendor for Daiei, General Growth Properties purchased Ala Moana Center in 1999.

  • Sears (341,199 sq ft / 31,698 m²)
  • Macy's (326,680 sq ft / 30,350 m²)
  • Neiman Marcus (161,055 sq ft / 14,962 m²)
  • Nordstrom (200,000 sq ft / 20,000 m²)
  • Shirokiya (53,512 sq ft / 4,971 m²)
  • Old Navy (33,221 sq ft / 3,086 m²)
  • Victoria's Secret (26,000 sq ft / 2,415 m²)
  • Barnes & Noble (30,758 sq ft / 2,858 m²)
  • Longs Drugs (21,609 sq ft / 2,008 m²)
  • Foodland (18,517 sq ft / 1,720 m²)

Costing USD 25 Million, in 1959, Ala Moana Center had eighty-seven stores and four thousand parking spaces. Ala Moana Center was remodeled extensively in various phases. New designs reflected modern Hawaiian architectural principles, emphasizing the importance of the symbolism of various natural phenomena found in Hawai ʻi. Asian Pacific Rim motifs have been adopted reflecting the large Asian population of residents in Hawai ʻi. For decades, a centerpiece of Ala Moana Center was its koi ponds. In the Japanese culture, koi represents happiness and tranquility. Despite these enhancements, the design of the Center has been criticized for its over-built appearance and hodge-podge architecture, the result of years of modifications and expansions under different owners. Still, Ala Moana Center architecture and layouts inspired owners General Growth Properties in 2004 to invest over USD 1 billion in remodeling various other shopping centers across Canada and the United States using Ala Moana Center as a template.

Ala Moana Centerstage is one of the most popular public amphitheaters in Hawai ʻi. On a stage in the center of the shopping complex, local talents are showcased for visitors to enjoy. Hula dances are a staple for Ala Moana Centerstage as well as performances by the Royal Hawaiian Band, the oldest municipal band in the United States. Schools throughout the country, as well as the world, travel to Honolulu just to be able to perform at Ala Moana Centerstage. In addition, episodes of a local TV show called Hawaii Stars, a singing competition, are usually filmed on this stage. Onlookers can usually be seen crowding the second- and third-story balconies overlooking the stage during taping.

Traditionally, Honolulu residents have frequented Ala Moana Center as a social gathering place. However, with the expansion of the center in the 1990s, the loss of many local vendors (for example, Villa Roma, Sato's Clothiers, The Ritz), and the introduction of pricey stores targeted towards Japanese tourists only, this recreational function has diminished in recent years.

Transit hub
Ala Moana Center is a major public transportation hub for TheBus, Honolulu's mass transit system. Ala Moana Center is the center of Honolulu's public transportation system and can be accessed by routes from all points on O'ahu. Ala Moana Center is accessed daily by numerous city and tour buses. Ala Moana Center will soon be one of the stops in Honolulu's newly developing elevated rail public transport system.

Building Activity

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