HAWAII KAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The fight to save the Hawaii Kai Foodland could end with a smaller store for the grocery chain in the Koko Marina Center. About 300 people gathered at Kaiser High School on Tuesday night for a town hall meeting hosted by State Representative Gene Ward and State Senator Sam Slom.
Foodland announced last week that it was closing its store in the Koko Marina Center on July 10 after 47 years because it was unable to negotiate a new lease. The center has already signed a new deal with Walgreens.
"We believe that our last offer was a very competitive one. We agreed to market rents. We also agreed to make some significant renovations in the store," said Jenai Wall, Foodland chairman and CEO.
Koko Marina Center did not have a representative at the meeting, but it sent a statement that was read by Sen. Slom.
"Unfortunately, we feel that our presence would cause more problems, where it is our intent to solve them. We understand that emotions are running high, but this is not something that happened quickly or was taken lightly," said the statement.
Foodland now wants to sublease half of the 32,000 square foot space from Walgreens.
"I think that we would very much like to stay in Hawaii Kai. We would like to take that space even though it's a much smaller space and it would not be ideal for us," said Wall.
In its statement, Koko Marina Center said it hopes that Foodland and Walgreens can reach an agreement.
"We don't understand why the blame has been strictly placed on one side. Too many concessions or burdens were to be placed on the center. It wasn't a matter of not wanting to accept the proposal but rather not being able to accept it," said the statement.
The town hall meeting was organized after Paige Altonn started a petition to keep Foodland from leaving. The Portlock resident said she has collected more than 2,300 signatures.
"It's insane to think that Safeway and Costco can sustain a community and just Hawaii Kai, with almost 60,000 people," said Altonn.
"To lose a store that is buying local and representing so well for so long cannot be idly sloughed off," said farmer Glenn Martinez of Olomana Gardens.
"We are hoping that we can work something out, but at this point nothing is definite, unfortunately," said Wall."
According to Foodland, its offer is one option being considered by Walgreens.