LIHUE — In lieu of a trial, a summary judgment hearing ended the Coco Palms property dispute in a Kauai courtroom on Thursday.
Circuit Court Chief Judge Randall Valenciano ruled in favor of development company Coco Palms Hui LLC, owned by Chad Waters and Tyler Greene.
After court, Greene said he was feeling good about the ruling and is looking forward to rebuilding the resort.
“It means that the Coco Palms train is continuing to move down the tracks and we’ve closed the chapter on this part of the project and we’re ready to get going and work through our permits and start construction,” he said.
The development company has filed their permits, he said, which are in the review process with the county.
“We would hope to start (construction), within the next six to nine months,” he said.
Valenciano asked Attorney Laurel Loo, who was representing Coco Palms Hui LLC, if they had been approached regarding this matter.
“No one has and I’m not surprised your honor. I think they probably assumed from our last hearing that the entire case is dismissed. We just wanted to clean up our outstanding counterclaim,” she said.
Valenciano, who stated the court hadn’t received written opposition on the matter, ruled in favor of the summary judgment that was filed in court on June 6.
“As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing existing (regarding Coco Palms Hui LLC), in any courts on Kauai,” Loo told The Garden Island newspaper.
The ruling is the completion of court dealings on the matter, she said.
Absent from the day’s proceedings, which lasted just over one minute, were Noa Mau-Espirito and Kamu “Charles” Hepa, who have been battling the development of the property in the courts since late last year.
They claimed ownership of the land through ancestral rights and planned to turn it into a cultural and religious center for the Kanaka Maoli.
In an interview with TGI, Mau-Espirito said his camp isn’t done filing appeals.
He also said they weren’t informed of the day’s proceedings.
“I had no idea there was a hearing today. The last thing I heard from them was their request in summary judgment so I answered their finding with my own answer I was waiting to hear back from them. I didn’t know I had court,” Mau-Espirito said.
He did agree there currently wasn’t anything filed in Kauai courts regarding this case, but he did say they’ve filed appeals with the State of Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals on Oahu.
Greene said their goal is to bring back the old Coco Palms.
In its heyday, the hotel beckoned both locals and the Hollywood elite before it was damaged during Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and had stood in disrepair until Greene and business partner Chad Waters obtained a special warranty deed for the property from Prudential real estate for reconstruction.
Once completed, the $175 million project is slated to boast 350 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space, three leisure areas and a four-acre cultural center.
“It’s always been the focus of the project is just to honor the past and celebrate the future and although we’ve had this speed bump with these court hearings we’ve had to go through this last year and a half, that vision has not changed at all and our hope is to bring back Coco Palms for the island of Kauai.”
Greene said what aloha means to him is when you make decisions you think about all of those around you and how it impacts them.
“I think it’s about caring and sharing and growing together and helping and I think that to me is what Coco Palms represents. It’ll provide a ton of new jobs into Kauai and it will not only provide jobs, but when you look at the history, it’s launched many, many careers here for many families on the island, even throughout the entire state,” Greene said.
Greene said Coco Palms Hui LLC, will continue to work with everybody surrounded by the project, including Mau-Espirito and Hepa.
“We’ve sat with them before and we’re always open to be willing to sit and talk with anyone about Coco Palms and the project,” he said.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891, firstname.lastname@example.org.