Talks turn to permits for Coco Palms

LIHUE — With demolition of Coco Palms underway, officials turned their attention to permitting for the $175 million hotel.

If the project stays on track, the resort could open in late 2017 as Coco Palms Resort by Hyatt. The 46-acre plot of land will be turned into a 350-room resort with 12,000 square feet of retail space, three restaurants, leisure areas and a four-acre cultural center.

During Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting, Planning Director Mike Dahilig recommended the commission defer a decision to approve permits until the details are vetted.

“At this juncture, we are in negotiations with some of the conditions (before we) present a settlement to the Planning Commission,” Dahilig said.

While Dahilig said the department is happy with the progress Coco Palms Hui, LLC, has made, he has reservations regarding the timeline of the project and if the company will be able to follow through with the six-month demolition project.

Because the project was deferred three times, the language of the permits needs to be amended, he added.

“We’ve traded drafts back and forth, and we don’t have a meeting of the minds yet as to what we would present to the commission,” he said.

A large part of the discussion is whether to rebuild and renovate in phases or do it as a whole project, Dahilig said.

“It requires discussion because it requires architectural input,” he said.

Both parties are acting in good faith to make sure negotiations run smoothly, but they weren’t able to reach an agreement by Tuesday’s meeting, Dahilig said.

The $3.5 million demo project began earlier this month. Hard demo began Monday, as workers with Pacific Concrete Cutting & Coring, Inc, the company in charge of demolition, began to tear down the cottages.

Demo will be limited to the mauka side of the side of the lagoon. As part of the selective demo process, PCCC crews will keep the concrete structures, like the Queen’s Audience Hall and the parking garage, said Tyler Greene, a representative from Coco Palms Hui, LLC.

Additionally, the bungalow buildings will be elevated eight feet to adhere to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Beverly Muraoka, whose rental property is next to Coco Palms, said her tenants have voiced two concerns regarding the demolition.

One is that there is no dust breaker to mitigate the dust as buildings are knocked down. Another is rats.

“While they demolish buildings, because of the number of years, they are suffering from dusts and termites,” she said. “And now that rats have no place to go, they are coming up to the house.”

She believes Coco Palms Hui, LLC, should put a dust breaker up and be responsible for pest control.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to defer a permitting decision to Aug. 23.

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