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First step forward for Coco Palms

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Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 1:00 am

LIHUE — Developers seeking to resurrect the iconic Coco Palms Resort in Wailua said the now shuttered hotel may open in the spring of 2017 — if they are able to obtain the county permits needed to begin construction next year.

“If we could do it sooner, we’d love to do it sooner, but so far, everything seems to be kind of lying in that direction,” Coco Palms Hui, LLC Principal Tyler Greene said on Thursday during the Honolulu-based investment group’s first quarterly update before the Kauai County Council.

Should Coco Palms Hui officials receive the proper permits within the next six to nine months to begin construction, Greene estimates that it should take about two years to conduct planned restoration efforts.

The hotel, which served as the backdrop for Elvis Presley’s film “Blue Hawaii,” has been closed since Hurricane Iniki struck the island on Sept. 11, 1992.  

They have two years to secure their building permits before the last Iniki Ordinance, those instituted to speed up the rebuilding process for hurricane-damaged buildings, ends.

The Kauai County Council approved the ordinance extension in December.

 Michael Belles, the Lihue-based attorney representing Coco Palms Hui, said the developers are finalizing site plans and working with the county’s Planning Department to determine what permits must be filed.

A hotel operator, Greene said, has been selected but will not be disclosed until the necessary legal agreements are finalized.

In November, Coco Palms Hui investors disclosed to the County Council that either Starwood Hotels and Resorts or Hyatt Hotels and Resorts officials were being considered as the hotel operator for the Coco Palms Resort.

A leading factor in the selection process, Greene said, was finding an operator who is willing to infuse the cultural and historical recommendations compiled by the Coco Palms Cultural Advisory Committee into the hotel’s daily operations.

“We want to make sure that any operator that comes in doesn’t just take those on and practice those things for the first year or the first three years — we want to make sure it is carried on in perpetuity,” Greene said.

Some County Councilmembers, meanwhile, said they were concerned by Coco Palms Hui’s plan to shuttle residents and visitors to the beach and the Seashell Restaurant instead of constructing a pedestrian overpass over Kuhio Highway — a plan pitched by previous Coco Palms developers.  

“I’m somewhat horrified that the environmental impact statement process, which was meant to protect the environment, is making it more difficult to look at what I think would be an environmentally better solution than shuttles, more cars, or people trying to cross that four-lane highway,” Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said. “It’s a major problem, and if you don’t address it before you open, it’s going to haunt you, I believe, in just the operation of your hotel.”

• Darin Moriki, county government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com. Follow him on Twitter at @darinmoriki.

© 2016 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • commonsense posted at 4:55 pm on Tue, Apr 1, 2014.

    commonsense Posts: 78

    I think a lot of people forget what Coco Palms was like or just remember all the feel good stories. If it were to be rebuilt in the same style and décor, it would not compete with newer, more comfortable resorts. The property was dark, outdated at time of Iniki and that era and feel is gone. If it is rebuilt, make something nice, warm and inviting with some past elegance and Hawaiiana, but stop focusing on bringing back the 'old Coco Palms'.

  • numilalocal posted at 11:05 am on Sat, Mar 29, 2014.

    numilalocal Posts: 392

    I had heard the Marriot name in conversation a couple days ago. It would be really nice to see the place rebuilt - hopefully in the Grace Guslander style with some ambience. Now, DOT Highways really needs to look at alleviating the Kapaa-Wailua gridlock. It's absolutely insane to the point of people completely avoiding the area most of the time. I'm gonna start loading my bicycle into my car, parking near the Heiau of Kuamoo and biking into town to run errands. Would be quicker than driving!

  • commonsense posted at 1:30 pm on Fri, Mar 28, 2014.

    commonsense Posts: 78

    This project has so many problems, issues and unanswered questions that, in my opinion, it is destined for some major problems if and when it is completed. Reopening the Seashell restaurant! Really? The location is terrible. Right alongside our major highway, no parking on that side of the road, public beach parking right out the front door where people like to hang out and party and very close to the smelly sewer.

    I sincerely doubt the developers are in it for the long haul. Build it, get it established and managed by a major corporation then sell it and leave the rest of the headaches to the residents of Kauai. I think the powers that be made the wrong decision with the additional extension of permits. Just my opinion.


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