Guardian Self Storage, which operates two facilities in Lihue, Hawaii, is making progress on its conversion of the former Nāwiliwili Bulk Sugar Facility on Niumalu Road, which it purchased in 2016. During the first phase, approximately one-third of the four-story building was transformed to 60,000 square feet of storage. The next two phases will add more storage and possibly micro-apartments, according to the source.
Built in 1949 at a cost of $1 million, the site became vacant in 2010 after sugar-cane producer Gay & Robinson Inc. ceased operation. Although the building was in disrepair, its foundation was solid, according to Guardian co-owner Thomas Lambert. The renovation included painting the building as well as stripping and replacing the siding.
Much of the structure’s former attributes were left intact, such as catwalks at the top of the building. Unfinished sections show dark splotches of molasses in the concrete walls despite power-washing, Lambert said.
“Sometimes you can still smell it when you’re up in the rafters,” said Lambert, who opened Guardian’s original location in the Puhi Industrial Park in Lihue in 2006.
Sugar-cane production is a large part of Lihue’s history. The warehouse functioned as the only export facility for sugar cane enterprises from 1950 to 2010, the source reported. The building held sugar until Guardian’s acquisition.
Before opening its Lihue facility, Guardian had a waiting list of more than 100 people. In addition to meeting a need for storage, the company is preserving community history, company officials said.
“Sugar plantations were huge at one time,” said Fran Kalb, manager of the Puhi location. “To take something and revitalize it and repurpose it to storage, but in a new form that serves us today in the world we live in now, is exciting. It has a function again after sitting for so long.”
Kaua’i Midweek, Guarding Kauai’s Great Story