Ala Moana Center

Coordinates: 21°17′28″N 157°50′37″W / 21.29111°N 157.84361°W / 21.29111; -157.84361
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Ala Moana Center
LocationAla Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii
Coordinates21°17′28″N 157°50′37″W / 21.29111°N 157.84361°W / 21.29111; -157.84361
Address1450 Ala Moana Boulevard
Opening dateAugust 13, 1959; 64 years ago (1959-08-13)
DeveloperDon Graham
ManagementBrookfield Properties
OwnerBrookfield Properties
No. of stores and services350 stores, restaurants, and services
No. of anchor tenants8
Total retail floor areac. 2,400,000 square feet (220,000 m2)
No. of floors4

The Ala Moana Center, commonly known simply as Ala Moana, is a large open-air shopping mall in the Ala Moana neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawaii. Owned by Brookfield Properties, Ala Moana is the eighth largest shopping mall in the United States and the largest open-air shopping center in the world.[1]

Ala Moana is consistently ranked among the most successful malls in the world. With assets totaling $5.74 billion as of January 2018, it is the most valuable shopping mall in the United States. It is anchored by Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Marshalls, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ross Dress for Less, Saks Off 5th, and Target.


Before the construction of the mall, the land was a wetland. Dredging projects nearby spearheaded by Walter F. Dillingham created excess coral which filled the wetland, 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.[2]

Initial development and design[edit]

The Ala Moana Center was developed and designed by Don Graham.[3] 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.[3] However, the Ala Moana Center proved a success after its opening, and helped refocus the retail center of Oahu away from Downtown Honolulu.[3] Graham worked as the center's first general manager after its opening.[4]


When it opened in 1959, Ala Moana Center became the largest shopping mall in the United States. Brookfield Properties of Chicago currently owns and operates Ala Moana Center. Although later retail developments across the nation have overshadowed it over the years, Brookfield markets and lists Ala Moana Center as the world's largest open-air mall with a total retail space of 2,270,186 sq ft (210,907.2 m2).[5] 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 second-phase expansion included the 1961 addition of the Ala Moana Office Building (including La Ronde, the first revolving restaurant in the United States), and the 1966 addition of JCPenney and Liberty House in a new Diamond Head wing. 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 management vendor for Daiei, General Growth Properties purchased Ala Moana Center in 1999 after Daiei filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.[2]

Success and expansion[edit]

Neiman Marcus store at Ala Moana Center, 2014

The Makai Market food court was built in 1987. A 1999 expansion added the Makai wing, with Neiman Marcus as a new anchor.[2] A shopping complex and parking spaces were demolished just north of the mall in 2006 to make way for the Mauka wing, which was completed on March 7, 2008, and was anchored by Nordstrom.

In a June 26, 2009, report from U.S. News & 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, at 95%. The report described the flourishing mall as a gold mine, with annual sales of more than $1 billion.[6]

Departure of Sears[edit]

On February 23, 2012, Sears Holdings Corporation announced it would close its store at Ala Moana Center by early 2013. Sears held its original location and had a presence at the mall since its opening in 1959. The closing was part of a $270 million sale of 11 Sears properties nationwide. The Wall Street Journal estimated that the Ala Moana Sears location was the largest portion of the deal, comprising between $200 million to $250 million of the overall sale price. The Ala Moana location closed permanently at 7 PM on June 2, 2013.[7][8]

Ewa Wing expansion[edit]

On May 17, 2013, the owner of Ala Moana Center announced that Bloomingdale's would anchor and occupy 167,000 sq ft (15,500 m2) of a new and expanded 650,000 sq ft (60,000 m2) Ewa wing.[9] The expanded wing opened on November 12, 2015,[10] replacing the existing wing on the western end of the mall, including the space previously occupied by Sears. The new wing included Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, which relocated from the north end of the mall, as anchors. On October 22, 2017, Target held its grand opening for its first store at a mall in Hawaii in the space formerly occupied by Nordstrom.[11]

Architecture and layout[edit]

Central promenade of Ala Moana Center, 2007

Costing US$25 million in 1959, Ala Moana Center had 87 stores and 4,000 parking spaces when it opened that year. It 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 Hawaiʻi. Asian Pacific Rim motifs have been adopted reflecting the large Asian population of residents in Hawaiʻi. For examples, for decades a centerpiece of Ala Moana Center was its koi ponds; in the Japanese culture, koi represent 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 its owner in 2004 to invest over US$1 billion in remodeling various other shopping centers across Canada and the United States, using Ala Moana Center as a template. As of 2018, Ala Moana is valued at nearly $6 billion and is the largest outdoor mall in the world.[12]

Ala Moana Centerstage at the Ala Moana Center, 2023

Ala Moana Centerstage, a stage in the center of the shopping complex, is one of the most popular public amphitheaters in Hawaiʻi. Local talents are showcased on the stage 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 world travel to Honolulu just to perform at Ala Moana Centerstage. In addition, episodes of the local TV show Hawaii Stars, a singing competition, are usually filmed on the stage; onlookers can usually be seen crowding the second- and third-story balconies overlooking the stage during taping.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ala Moana Center turns the big 5-0 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL". Hawaii News Now. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  2. ^ a b c Gomes, Andrew (2006-06-30). "Can Ala Moana Center get any bigger?". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  3. ^ a b c Gomes, Andrew (2010-08-19). "Ala Moana Center developer transformed isle real estate". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  4. ^ "Don Graham dies, developed Ala Moana Center". KHNL. 2010-08-19. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  5. ^ "Properties & Leasing - Ala Moana Center". Brookfield Properties.
  6. ^ Newman, Rick (2009-06-26). "America's Most Profitable Malls - Rick Newman". Archived from the original on 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  7. ^ "Sears employees told Ala Moana store will close June 2". Pacific Business News. February 19, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  8. ^ Tsai, Michael (June 3, 2013). "Sears closes at Ala Moana". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved June 8, 2013. (subscription required)
  9. ^ Scheuring, Ian; Dicus, Howard (May 17, 2013). "Bloomingdale's to open in Ala Moana Center, replace Sears retail space". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
  10. ^ "Ewa Wing Expansion Opening". Ala Moana Center. Archived from the original on 2015-11-01.
  11. ^ "Here's a Sneak Peek Inside the Brand-New Target Now Open at Ala Moana Center". Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  12. ^ Tyler, Jessica (26 February 2018). "America's most successful malls are worth billions and defying the retail meltdown with luxury stores and special events — take a look inside". Business Insider. Retrieved 26 February 2018.

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