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New Penn gym could be open by August

Construction to convert the old Hilo Lanes bowling alley property into a commercial center continues, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Hilo businesswoman Lorraine Shin, whose company, M.S. Petroleum Corp., bought the 3.7 acre property for $2.55 million in 2018, said Friday “a lot of work is being done” on the interior of the building.

“The plumbing is going in; the walls are going in,” Shin said.

According to the county’s Real Property Tax website, three construction permits for the 38,000-square-foot building were issued in 2020.

The first was the building permit issued April 13 to convert about 25,000 square feet of the 61-year-old building into a fitness center with aerobic rooms and a dojo, new restrooms and Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant ramps — plus alterations to the foundation to accommodate these changes. The estimated costs of the alterations are $1.8 million. A plumbing permit for alterations including a new sprinkler system was issued May 27, with an estimated cost of $105,000.

And an electrical permit for alterations including air conditioning was issued on Oct. 21, with an estimated $100,000 price tag.

“Our first focus is the gym,” Shin said.

She added her son, Jay Dee Penn and his wife, Jodi, are taking the lead and are close to closing an agreement for a fifth BJ Penn/UFC gym in Hawaii for the building, which is being renamed 777 Kinoole Center — a play on the property’s address.

BJ Penn, another of Shin’s sons, is a two-division former UFC champion and an inductee of the mixed martial arts giant’s Hall of Fame.

“We’re all excited about this, but nobody is more excited than BJ,” Shin said. “He’s been going over training plans, the logistics, those types of things. It’s going to be a state-of-the-art gym.”

Shin said it’s possible the gym could open as soon as August. The Penn Training and Fitness Center at 639 Kinoole St. remains in business, for now, but COVID restrictions have slowed business there.

“Right now, we can only allow 60 people in at a time,” Shin said. “Previously, before COVID, we were doing about 2,000 members a month. So now, with this new gym, we’re looking at — after it’s opened — we’re looking to double that.”

The gym will leave 13,000 square feet available for other businesses at 777 Kinoole Center. A “space available” sign sits atop the former bowling alley building directing interested tenants to call (808) 960-7378.

“Right now, the commercial spaces are on hold. There are a lot of individuals that are interested in space, but they’re on hold because of the COVID, which has hit them hard and hit us, as well,” Shin said. “Some of them — not all, but some of them — have had to put themselves on hold.”

Shin said the plan calls for 206 parking stalls. Grading has been occurring behind the building, and Shin said there are plans for a concert venue there. She added they’re looking for a restaurant to occupy part of the building.

“When we get it up and running, I believe our place at 777 Kinoole will be the talk of the town, the happening place.”

Email John Burnett at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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