In downton Hilo, company painting the town in vibrant colors


Hilo’s downtown is getting a fresh coat of paint starting Monday.

Paint company Benjamin Moore announced in June that downtown Hilo will be one of 20 areas across the U.S. and Canada getting a paint job for the new year. The project is part of the company’s 2013 Main Street Matters promotional contest. Hilo won the spot after a period of online voting at paintwhatmatters.com.

Priscilla Ghaznavi, director of color and design studio for the project, said starting Monday, businesses from Mamo Street to Waianuenue Avenue on Kamehameha Avenue will be painted in a range of vibrant colors she hopes will encompass the style and flavor of the community.

“The businesses will have an all-fresh, new exterior paint job and we hope it looks like a jewelry box of tropical color. We want it to be like another flower in the rain forest,” she said.

Downtown businesses not receiving free paint jobs will be eligible to receive a discount on Benjamin Moore exterior paint. The discount applies to owners who want to paint the entire building since the Main Street Matters painting promotion applies to first-floor businesses only.

For the past several weeks, representatives from Benjamin Moore have been working with local business owners and community members on the project and are looking to “stay local” by using HPM Building Supply as its local retailer and hiring contractor Dion Kawakami for the project.

Ghaznavi said the team has been getting to know the area in order to pick colors that give an accurate portrayal of Hilo.

“We wanted to get a feel for what the businesses were, how do they use color and come up with combinations that utilize and express Hawaii and Hilo as a whole,” Ghaznavi said.

Alice Moon, executive director at Hilo’s Downtown Improvement Association, has been helping the Benjamin Moore team members familiarize themselves with the area. Moon said she’s been a “cheerleader” for the project and anticipates the revitalization initiative will have a prepossessing impact on local businesses both downtown and elsewhere.

“Kamehameha Avenue is the face of downtown. It’s shining a spotlight and putting a whole new face-lift on the town. And that’s what people see. It’ll draw more people into the rest of town, too,” she said.

Moon said the project came at the perfect time — just before the Lunar New Year.

“That’s one of the big things you do before the new year. You clean your house and paint and freshen things up,” she said.

The Lunar New Year starts in February, and project managers estimate everything will be complete by the end of the month, pending cooperative weather.

Ghaznavi and her team are setting up a booth for the First Friday’s Art Walk. She’s offering free painting advice to the community and encourages any interested individuals to bring a picture of your home and a point of inspiration with you at the time of the consultation.

There will be a “first paint stroke” ceremony from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday at the Mooheau Park Bandstand. Mayor Billy Kenoi and local business owners will be in attendance.

For more information about the project and the Downtown Improvement Association, visit downtownhilo.com.