Bloomingdale’s store symbolizes Ala Moana Center shift

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

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After months of waiting, Ala Moana Center shoppers have received an answer.

General Growth Properties announced that Bloomingdale’s will be taking over the space now filled by Sears.

It will be the retailer’s first store in Hawaii.

Construction will begin next year and the store is scheduled to open in late 2015.

The department store will take up about 167,000 square feet over three levels.

Bloomingdale’s will offer designer and luxury goods, as well as hire about 250 people.

Experts say Ala Moana is changing from a mall for locals to a shopping destination for tourists.

“Well, Sears has always been kind of lower-middle class and I would say Bloomingdale’s has always been upper-middle class,” historian and author Bob Sigall said.

It’s the first tenant named for a new wing at the Sears end.

Bloomingdale’s will serve as the centerpiece of a major retail expansion. GGP will demolish the current building and double the retail space.

“It appears Ala Moana is gearing up for the Asian market that’s going to be coming in to live here on a yearly basis with all the new construction, the new condominiums coming into Kakaako,” real estate analyst Stephany Sofos said.

Ala Moana Center has changed since it opened, following the money along the way.

“In 1959 when it opened, it was mostly locals. We had less than a million tourists a year coming to Hawaii. Now, we have seven million tourists and they’re spending money at Ala Moana Center a lot more than locals are,” Sigall said.

As a result, shoppers can expect the arrival of many luxury stores and the departure of numerous others.

Soon, there will only be four of Ala Moana Center’s original tenants left.

“Territorial Savings, Longs, Foodland and Shirokiya,” Sigall said.

GGP wouldn’t say which other stores and restaurants will move into the location.

In a statement, GGP said, “Adding Bloomingdale’s to its stellar department store and retailer line-up only furthers Ala Moana’s status as a premier retail destination.”

The people KHON2 spoke with say they disagree.

“I’m not personally interested in those kinds of high-end shopping. I need to stretch my dollar,” shopper Diane Fujio said.

“Bloomingdale’s doesn’t affect my life very much,” shopper Julie Haun said.

“Ala Moana just seems like it’s getting more and more upscale and not so much for us local folks,” shopper Karen Taniguchi said.

Ala Moana will be Bloomingdale’s 38th store location.

It’s owned by the same company as Macy’s.

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