Coco Palms demolition nears end

LIHUE — The Planning Commission unanimously approved dismissing a petition Tuesday that sought to revoke the developer’s permits to demo the hotel.

“Both myself and the opposing party (Coco Palms) have agreed to stipulations, after months of discussions and good faith negotiations,” said Mike Dahilig, county planning director.

Tyler Greene, co-owner of Coco Palms Hui, LLC., agreed.

“We really appreciate (Dahilig) working with Mr. Pang (attorney for Coco Palms) in getting the stipulations sorted out,” he said. “We feel that they are really fair and achievable.”

Stipulations include new time lines and taking into account traffic concerns.

“There are some additional conditions that have been added based on roving construction that will move forward in the near future,” Dahilig said.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation plans to widen Kuhio Highway from Kuamoo to Kapaa Bypass Road. The project was prioritized by the Kapaa Solutions Working Group, which is made up of state, county and community business representatives, said Timothy Sakahara, spokesman for HDOT.

That plan was not in the works when Coco Palms Hui, LLC., first applied for their permits, he said.

Greene hopes to restore the hotel, destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, to its former glory by mid-2018.

“The hardest part of any project is that initial start,” he said. “But the ship has left the bay, so to speak, and things are moving forward pretty well.”

Selective demolition of Coco Palms began in June, led by Pacific Concrete, Cutting & Coring. PCCC is about 75 percent finished with the $3.5-million demolition and expects to finish before year’s end.

As part of the selective demo process, the Queen’s Audience Hall and parking garage will remain intact. Instead, PCCC is tearing out the drywall and making mechanical and electrical repairs. Additionally, the bungalow buildings will be elevated eight feet to adhere to Federal Emergency Management standards.

By not completely leveling hotel, representatives hope to keep the integrity of the structures.

“The cottages on the mauka side are all down to the slab, the Queen’s Audience Hall has been completely gutted out and the Queen’s Lagoon building is down to the slab,” Greene said.

The Lotus Restaurant and bar has also been completely cleaned out, he added.

“The only things that remain are the three concrete structures in the front — Alii Kai and Shell buildings,” Greene said. “Everything is going along smoothly.”

Commissioner Glenda Nogami-Streufert asked about mitigating traffic safety for guests who want to cross Kuhio Highway to get to Wailua Beach Park.

“Do you think the plans are sufficient for the safety of your guests?” she asked.

The resort plans to operate a shuttle between Coco Palms and the beach for guests who don’t want to walk. The shuttle will also be open to the public, Greene said.

Phase II of the project — renovation and reconstruction — is expected to start in January.

Coco Palms Resort by Hyatt will be part of the Hyatt’s Unbound collection, one of six upscale and luxury properties around the world, Greene said.

Other Hyatt Unbound locations include Miami Beach, Fla., Austin, Texas, Paris, Carmelo, Uruguay and Phoenix, Arizona.

When finished, the $175 million Kauai resort will boast 350 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space, three restaurants, leisure areas and a four-acre cultural center.

Coco Palms Hui, LLC has been part of the Coco Palms story since 2012.

“(I’m) extremely encouraged and excited to see the physical change every week,” Greene said.

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