The Garden Island
WAILUA — The battle continues over Coco Palms Resort in Wailua, between developers Chad Waters and Tyler Greene and a group of Native Hawaiians who say the land rightfully belongs to them by royal decree.
A civil case on the matter has begun and will continue on Friday.
The Hawaiians say despite what the judge rules, they have no plans of leaving the 17-acre resort property that has been in ruins since it was damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
“We are going to stay here and put up a big fight,” Kamu Hepa said last week. “There’s no way we can lose.”
Back in its glory days, Coco Palms was an icon, with Elvis Presley filming a scene of his movie “Blue Hawaii” in the resort’s lagoon and many celebrities staying at the hotel.
Today, it is easily missed during a drive past on Kuhio Highway.
Overgrown brush and coconut trees have taken over the property. Palm fronds and rotting coconuts litter the sidewalks once bustling with visitors and hotel staff.
None of the buildings or outbuildings are usable.
The occupiers live in temporary structures on part of the land near a river close to the mountains. They have cleaned up the area they occupy.
In the decades since its destruction, several developers have attempted to restore the hotel. None of them have been successful.
With plans on rebuilding, Waters and Greene say they purchased the land in 2012.
If development moves forward, the $175 million hotel will boast about 400 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space, three restaurants, leisure areas and a four-acre cultural center when completed.
Though the occupiers have been on the decrepit property for nearly a year, the $3.5 million selective demolition process began in June, with initial plans to begin the renovation and reconstruction of the resort this coming spring.
Hepa said what the courts are doing is treason and against the U.S. Constitution.
His family, Hepa said, has documents proving they own the land.
“They’re trying to steal our land,” he said.
Attempts to reach Greene and Waters for comment on this story have been unsuccessful.
Sarah Blane, spokesperson for Kauai County, said county officials are unable to preemptively comment on police matters.