KAPAA — A group has taken up residence on the Coco Palms property, saying they are descendants of people who once called the area home.
“There are some trespassers at Coco Palms,” said Tyler Greene, co-owner of Coco Palms Hui, Inc. “We are working with the county prosecutor’s office on the matter.”
The issue has also been turned over to the Kauai Police Department, he said.
Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney, said his office is working with police to make sure everyone on the site is safe.
The last trespass complaint at Coco Palms was reported to KPD on March 11. The one before that was Feb. 11, said Sarah Blane, county spokeswoman.
A small camp was set up on Coco Palms property just off Kuamoo Road and was there Tuesday, with a handful of people. There is a vehicle, tent and flag. The group has declined to leave the property and police have not tried to force them to. A TGI reporter visited the site Tuesday.
Some are claiming land ownership in the area and have some paperwork they displayed to back up their claim.
A few weeks ago, around 10 protested outside Coco Palms, holding signs and waving flags.
Greene said the unexpected protesters are not expected to delay the project. The $175 million hotel is expected to open by the end of 2018.
During public hearings on the Coco Palms restoration project, no one disputed land ownership.
Greene and his partner, Chad Waters, have been trying to restore the hotel, closed since 1992 after Hurricane Iniki, to its former glory since 2012.
The $3.5 million selective demolition process began in June. Demolition included tearing out the drywall, making mechanical and electrical repairs, clearing out the Lotus Restaurant and elevating the bungalow buildings so they adhere to Federal Emergency Management standards.
By spring, crews are expected to start Phase II — renovation and reconstruction.
The 74-acre property will boast 350 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space, three restaurants, leisure areas and a four-acre cultural center.
The hotel will also create about 1,800 jobs. It will open under the Hyatt brand and be renamed Coco Palms Resort by Hyatt. It will be part of the Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, one of six upscale and luxury properties around the world.