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A New Look in Kailua

 FILE - Kailua town on Oʻahu
Wikimedia Commons
FILE - Kailua town on Oʻahu

By late 2018, the former Macy’s in Kailua will reopen as Lau Hala Shops. And the design pays tribute to the building’s lengthy history. Pacific Business News editor in chief A. Kam Napier has more.

On November 11, 1953, the Liberty House building as we know it opened in Kailua, replacing a smaller Liberty House that had existed next door since the end of World War II. The construction cost for the new building was just $600,000.

In 1960, the store doubled in size and gained the first escalators and elevators in Kailua. In 2001, Federated Department Stores purchased Liberty House as it emerged from bankruptcy and the Kailua store became a Macy’s.

That chapter ended two years ago and now the building its undergoing its most dramatic renovation yet to reopen as Lau Hala Shops later this year. Spearheading the design is AHL, the architecture firm head by Bettina Mehnert, herself a Kailua resident. The firm’s goal has been to give the modernist building a contemporary refresh. Details from the building’s history abound, such as prominently featured wrought iron railings with the Liberty House initials as décor in the new lobby, and using those railings as the inspiration for a new grand stairway.

Structurally, they needed to divide the space up for multiple tenants while still making it feel cohesive. When it opens, Lau Hala Shops two restaurants, one grocery story, six in-line retail space and a single 20,000-square-foot gym upstairs.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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