Costco is Ugly

It’s always surprising when construction goes so fast that you find familiar places changed nearly overnight. We shop at Kukui Grove Mall at least every other week, so last time I was shocked to find the view of the mountains now blocked by the Costco under construction.


The ugly containers in the foreground belong to Kmart, but at least they are below grade and never blocked the views. The new construction is a huge eyesore that ruins the landscape, I see why they’re called big box stores. From approximately 100 yards away, it still blocks the view 1500 feet (450 meters) up the mountains. The peak is Ha’upu at 2297′ (700m), and it looks truncated there, floating above a big ugly box instead of sitting on its beautiful lush slopes.

I know the area is all retail-oriented, with Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, Kukui Grove, and the Home Depot nearby, but there was still this beautiful viewplane left:


The whole manner in which Costco “invited” itself to the island really stinks. Many people here want more shopping, cheaper prices, and wider selection, and along with tourists who know the store from the mainland, they figured they would be welcomed. However, a majority of people opposed them in the newspapers and popular opinion, and it was clear they are not wanted. So after fighting for their permits, they announced they would not build here because the cost of construction was too high. However, I think that was a ploy to make the opposition back down, because they broke ground 2 months later without telling anyone.

Costco’s partner-in-crime is Grove Farm, the corporation run by Steve Case that owns most of the land between Lihue and Koloa on the other side of Ha’upu. They have turned their agricultural land into development such as Kukui Grove, Puakea golf course, and the nearby Home Depot, guaranteeing them steady revenue until the island is all paved over. I’m not sure whether they sold or lease to Costco, but they are also developing a housing development in the background, behind the 12′ (4m) black fence.

Adding insult to injury, Grove Farm tore down this park and pavilion that used to be located exactly where the box now stands the first photo. It was somehow owned by Grove Farm and far from any neighborhoods but still used by the community for small events and swap meets. It was probably built because Grove Farm at one time was required to provide community space in exchange for turning agricultural land into commercial space, but now it’s gone.


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3 Comments   »

  1. Peggy says:

    Andy, I so agree. Costco is ugly and both Matt and I miss the mountain views. We were talking about it just yesterday – how cool it would be if Costco would paint a mural of the mountains on that wall, one that would blend in with the mountains themselves. Of course they won’t, though. I believe that pavilion at the bottom of this post has been donated to Island School for use as a teaching space. Grove Farm donated the land Island School sits on, and has been generous with donations of other buildings and money, too.

  2. Andy says:

    Murals are nice, but in a way they’re just cosmetic, and they look dated after a while. Kauai is all about seeing the island’s beauty and feeling close to nature. The solution is to plan the development and design the buildings appropriately. To me it looks like the Costco box is much higher than it needs to be, and I can’t fathom why anyone one finds that appealing.

    The problem is that Costco is a mainland corporation with a cookie-cutter business model, including building design, that it applies everywhere to increase profits. Mainland retail outlets sap the resources of their community through low wages, low health care and high infrastructure costs. This is the true cost of inexpensive shopping opportunities, and it will eventually displace and destroy the culture and beauty of an island like Kauai.

    I’m happy to hear the pavillion was saved, or rather pieces such as the roof because it had masonry walls that probably couldn’t be moved. I’ve noticed that every company that has a negative image because it takes from the island tries to buy community acceptance through donations. Sometimes they do it blatantly and I wonder who they think they can fool.

    In the case of Grove Farm, they have owned significant land and run a business on the island for more than a century, so I do believe they are sincere in their desire to give back to the community. However, such generosity does not absolve them of their responsibility to make business decisions that preserve the island for the entire community.

  3. honoluluboy says:

    For those of you complaining about growth on Kauai, Nuff said , you don’t like it ?? then you people ( WESTURNERS ) SHOULD HAVE LEFT THE HAWAIIANS ALONE!!!!
    As for us hawaiians who already adjusted to it , so can you. complainers!!!!!!!!!!!

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