BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA
Journal Staff

There are no obvious signs of construction at the site of Guam’s future Don Quijote store on the corner of Airport Road and Marine Corps Drive. 

But there will soon be progress at the Tamuning site, according Kilhak “Killy” Kunimoto, owner of the Kunimoto Architect Design Group Inc., which is designing the Guam store.

The first steps were taken after receipt of the final permit for site clearance on Dec. 3. “We will be starting to clear the site from today,” Kunimoto said on Dec. 4.

Typically that work would be done by a contractor, but to speed progress, he said, “We decided to go ahead before the contractor comes on-board.” I am going to finish my part of the work, and in four weeks the contractor will take over.”

As of Nov. 29 — when Kunimoto met with the Journal, the contractor for the project was not yet selected.

“We started with seven contractors,” he said. “They’re all local.” Negotiations are underway with the second of a short list of three, he said.

The front façade of the building will reflect Guam’s CHamoru culture, and include upright latte columns. Plans also include a wave (as on the beach) across the single-story building.

Kilhak “Killy” Kunimoto, owner of the Kunimoto Architect Design Group Inc. is keeping the Don Quijote project moving from clearing forward.

Photo by Maureen N. Maratita

A contractor could be selected some time in December, he said.

The size of the building remains unchanged. “It’s still the same at 27,000 square feet,” Kunimoto said. Basement storage is also still planned. However, the 595,168.9 square-foot plot has expanded, due to an additional five-acre lease of adjacent Mendiola family property. “We have an agreement to lease land up to the house,” he said.

That land may be used for additional parking or additional facilities at the property, he said. “It’s too early to say,” Kunimoto said. “Nevertheless, we will have enough parking spaces.”

Typically clearing work would be done by a contractor, but to speed progress, he said, “We decided to go ahead before the contractor comes on-board. I am going to finish my part of the work, and in four weeks the contractor will take over.”

After clearing and demolition, the contractor will begin grading, he said. Kunimoto presently has a team of three people. “I just acquired a construction site observer. He will check safety and quality control — those things.” UMS Heavy Equipment Rental is one of two companies hired to clear the site, he said.

The grand opening is still set for March 2021, despite a slow permitting process. “We’ve been chasing the clearing permit since May 30. That took a long time,” he said. One reason he said was the change in administration. Otherwise, Kunimoto said, “Military projects all have priority over us. It’s not speculation; I was told,” he said.

The project has its EPA permit, but the building plans have not yet been fully approved, he said. “That’s another process. I have no idea when that will be done. … We submitted on Aug. 5 to the Department of Public Works. DPW distributes those to many departments — GPA, GWA, the highway department, Agriculture, EPA … We have no estimate.”

Meanwhile Don Quijote has been conducting market research to see what local consumers would like to see in the Guam store, since local shoppers will be the primary customer base, according to Kunimoto.

According to Journal files, the brand has a distinctive image — emphasizing convenience, discount and amusement. Stores are typically heavily stocked. Its offerings include discounted name brand goods. It offers on-line international shopping and has its own premium brand — also aimed to be affordable in the mass market.  Its penguin mascot — Donpen — represents the mascot’s full name of Don Quijote Penguin. The chain itself is sometimes referred to as “Donki.”

Inside, customers can expect additional offerings besides the mix of goods. “This place is going to have 12 different restaurants — like a food court. They are looking for tenants right now,” Kunimoto said. Realtor Hideki Hashimoto of Blue Pacific Realty is negotiating with tenants. “He’s going to be the property manager. He’s very busy right now,” Kunimoto said. 

The groundbreaking is planned for Feb. 10, he said. Attendees can expect to see the Don Quijote Founder Takao Yasuda, the organization’s president and its project manager among the four or five VIPs from Japan.

Kunimoto’s project team includes six architects in the Philippines — an interior designer, a 3D specialist and four architects for drawings, he said. “Without those, I couldn’t have done that [work] in the short time allocated.” The lease for the properties the store will be built on was registered at the Guam Department of Land Management on March 25, according to Journal files.

With a building of 175,000 square feet, The Guam Don Quijote footprint will be bigger than Kmart Guam, which occupies 110,814 square feet. Kmart’s Little Caesar’s restaurant occupies 2,100 square feet. – For further details, see stories in the issues of Jan. 21 and April 1. mbj