Dole Cannery Expands, Gets New Life as Brand-Name Outlet

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Reed Travel Features

HONOLULU -- Visitors traveling from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki will notice a complex of buildings painted yellow.

Best seen from the highway, the complex stands out in the distance as visitors look down on the gray of the industrial district, before they pass downtown's high-rise buildings.

Clients taking the Nimitz Highway route will see it at ground level.

It looks strange, and that is the intention. The complex is painted seven shades of yellow to catch the eye.

This is Dole Cannery, which became a shopping center specializing in Hawaiian-made products when pineapple processing ended in 1992.

Now, it is being expanded and transformed again, to a brand-name outlet (the new name for factory stores) while keeping the pineapple theme.

Two years ago, Horizon Group, one of the nation's largest retail center operators, took over its operation and development.

Brand-name outlets are displacing Hawaiian-product outlets.

Horizon is planning a "grand opening" for late summer for what is now called the Dole Cannery by Horizon.

In all, 60 retail outlets, including fast-food operations, are slated to open.

Half are in business now, with retail space boosted by the completion last March of a second construction phase.

Already open are such retailers as Big Dog Sportwear, California Luggage Outlet, Dockers', Levi's, Famous Footwear and the lingerie of Olga/Warner's.

Hawaiian products are not forgotten. Stores such as Hawaiian Island Gems, Island Brewing Gift Shop and Pineapples to Go are part of the complex, too.

Merchants opening during the first quarter of 1997 include Anne Klein, Oshkosh B'Gosh and American Tourister Expo.

And that is not all.

Last summer, Horizon announced it will build a two-story, $40 million aquarium as part of the complex.

Groundbreaking for the attraction, a joint venture with Tarlton Aquastar, is expected during the first quarter of this year, with an opening during the first quarter of 1998.

UnderWater World Hawaii will be Tarlton Aquastar's third aquarium in the U.S.

This version will be larger than the UnderWater Worlds opened last year at Pier 39 in San Francisco and Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

According to Valerie O'Brien, Dole Cannery's marketing director, about half of the cannery visitors are tourists and the other half are residents.

This demographic mix is expected to continue after the aquarium project is completed.

The 44-acre cannery is located at Iwelei, just west of downtown. The last of Oahu's three pineapple canneries, it had been processing pineapple for 82 years when it closed in November 1992.

Dole Food Co., which had attracted only small numbers of visitors on its cannery tour, planned to go into tourism in a big way.

In 1988, Dole opened its shopping facility, then called Dole Cannery Square, in its administrative building adjoining the cannery.

Cannery Square expanded to include more than 30 tourist-oriented stores, specializing in pineapple and other Hawaiian-made products, while maintaining the cannery tour.

Six years ago, Dole built a nine-building complex across the street, with kitchens, ballrooms and parking floors, in addition to briefing rooms for tour operators.

Displayed throughout the center were exhibits on pineapple and its history.

Visitors saw a multimedia presentation focusing on the history of the Hawaiian pineapple and Harvard-educated James Dole, who arrived in the islands in 1899.

Dole began pineapple production in the central Oahu plains in 1903, expanding to the island of Lanai, which he bought in 1922.

Dole exported Hawaiian pineapple and made it famous, directing the operation for 50 years until selling to Castle & Cooke (now called Dole Food Co.) in the early 1950s.

Today, after clients enter the main entrance, they see a Leathermode store to the right, which replaced a shop selling Hawaiian gifts.

The free multimedia presentation continues to be shown (a new one is being created), and the photo and historical displays remain throughout the complex.

One familiar sight will return.

Three years ago, Dole took down the old pineapple water tower, four stories high, which had long been an industrial area landmark.

The 22-foot-long pineapple will be rebuilt and erected before the grand opening, a $1 million project.

Dole Cannery is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

It shares a free shuttle service from Waikiki with the nearby Hilo Hattie, which specializes in Hawaiian products.

For further information, contact Dole Cannery at (808) 531-2886; fax (808) 531-3159.

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