Coco Palms sold for $22M in single-bid

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kimberly Souza offers the “white stone of peace from Wailua” to the court officials in charge of the public auction of the former Coco Palms Resort property, Monday, in front of the Pu‘uhonua Building.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    One of the groups against development of the former Coco Palms Resort property protests, Monday during the public auction of the property in front of the Pu‘uhonua Kaulike Building.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Commissioner Craig DeCosta opens the public auction of the former Coco Palms Resort property to bid offers, Monday, fronting the Pu‘uhonua Kaulike Building.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Commissioner Craig DeCosta records the bid submitted by Scott Ira Batterman, a Honolulu lawyer representing the Private Capitol Group, Monday during the public auction of the former Coco Palms Resort property in front of the Pu‘uhonua Kaulike Building.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Commissioner Craig DeCosta goes over the terms of the public auction with Scott Ira Batterman, a Honolulu lawyer representing the Private Capitol Group, Monday during the public auction of the former Coco Palms Resort property in front of the the Pu‘uhonua Kaulike Building.

LIHU‘E — What remains of the Coco Palms Resort and the land its built was auctioned off in one bid for $22.231 million Monday to Private Capital Group.

Scott Ira Batterman, a Honolulu-based lawyer represented the Utah-based short-term, loan-servicing company, facilitating the bid for the site, which was sold at public auction at a foreclosure sale in “as-is” condition, without any warranty, with 10% of the highest bid payable. The purchaser is responsible for all costs and expenses for the closing, including eviction.

No other developers or interested buyers announced their presence or made a bid.

The auction was prompted by the June 2019 foreclosure proceeding of Honolulu-based Coco Palms Hui, LLC, which formed and initiated the latest attempts to revitalize the property in 2015. In March 2019, Stillwater Equity Partners, a parent company of Private Capital, took over the property after the hui defaulted on more than $11 million in financing on a $22-million mortgage.

Over 30 people stood watch Monday afternoon on the steps of the Fifth Circuit Courthouse in Lihu‘e, some with signs calling for development and desecration of the land to stop.

Following the auction, murmurs amongst the crowd wondered aloud if it was over. Then stepped up Kimberly Souza, who had lived at the Wailua property prior, offering a stone to Commissioner Craig DeCosta, who preceded over the auction. Souza expressed distrust in the court system.

“The property can’t be sold,” Souza said. “There’s iwi kupuna in there.”

Souza and others were previously evicted from the land in the past.

“Money cannot buy this thing,” Souza said. “I give you peace, sir, we offer you guys peace. Now do not, do not, look for a priest to help you.”

Famed for its celebrity clientele since its opening in 1953, Coco Palms never recovered after its destruction by Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992. Several attempts to restore the iconic property since then failed.

After the announcement of the auction, community group I Ola Wailuanui came forward voicing the need to preserve the land and envisioned the creation of a Hawaiian cultural and education center, agricultural park and community resource.

“Our highest hope, that someone would step forward to bid for and secure the property out of developers hands and with this shared vision of returning the land to the community, did not happen,” Fern Anuenue Holland of I Ola Wailuanui said. “However, our primary concern going into today, that a developer that did want to push a hotel forward would bid and secure the property for the goal of further development and commercialization, also did not happen.”

Holland categorized the sale as a change in title from the foreclosing developers to the financial group to recoup the money from the failed investment.

“An individual, organization, foundation or trust could still step in and buy the property from the existing holders over the next 60 days for 5% more than the winning/starting bid today,” Holland said. “It’s not over till it’s over and it ain’t even close to over.”

Following yesterday’s actions, the commissioner will file a motion to confirm the sale. Coco Palms Hui did file an appeal on the foreclosure order, which could be reversed.

This marks just another chapter in the Coco Palms saga. The most recent plans were to take the remaining structure of the property and build a 350-room resort and rebuild cottages on the property, reminiscent of the preferred suites of famed celebrities who formerly walked its grounds.

“Coco Palms has been in a deteriorating state since I was a sophomore in high school,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a statement Monday. “This holds such a special place in the heart of our Kaua‘i community and is long overdue for action to be taken. There is a growing sentiment from our residents that the site not be returned to a resort, but instead become a community gathering place, such as a park with agricultural and cultural elements.”

While the county did not play a role in public auction, Kawakami expressed eagerness “to see who will purchase the private land.”

“We will work with the new owners to ensure that whatever becomes of the property, we honor the sacred nature of this site and the wishes of our community,” Kawakami said.

  1. I saw a Vampire once July 27, 2021 12:24 am Reply


    They sold this worthless piece of land. A haunted house would do. Repaint it. Some trees. Paintings along the walls. And you have got an amusement house to look at and pay a fee. Cheap too. Plus add a luau show, and you’re set.

  2. jkh July 27, 2021 3:19 am Reply

    I love how other people showed up to tell someone else what to do with their money.

    Just because you say there is “iwi kapuna in there” does not make it true.

    Locals love to put a Hawaiian word next to something they want, or do not want, and then it automatically becomes sacred. (Instead of the race card, it is the Hawaiian card). STOP. Coco Palms was far from sacred when it was operational, and now the land is a dump. The ones who say they love it the most are the ones dumping on it.

    It is time to welcome clearing and cleaning of the land, and development of any kind is better than what is currently there.

    1. DEJ August 1, 2021 9:06 am Reply

      While I understand your perspective my experiences here over the past 25 years have shown me a different side. Hawaiians are not Americans. Their cosmology holds a different reverence for the life in nature, not in money.
      The idea that we should not honor the traditions of our host because YOU haven’t seen any bones says a lot about the invaders perspective.
      American his story treats sovereign people like property or savage for having their own history.
      I would hope that these Gentle Souls would be honored and respected for being the generous and giving Spiritual society that the western way corrupted

      1. Mr Invader August 12, 2021 5:37 pm Reply

        “Invaders” lol. Get a life. The USA is the reason Hawaii isn’t a third world country.

  3. alien July 27, 2021 7:37 am Reply

    This to will pass, just like the dinosaurs someday no human will be on the earth like the islands were for a billion years before anyone was lucky enough to spend any time here. No one is the rightful owner of the earth. The earth is the owner of us. Put your ego away silly humans.

  4. andrew July 27, 2021 8:20 am Reply

    So Utah based Private Capital took ownership in 2019 and bought it from itself from bankruptcy at “public auction” as the sole bidder in 2021. Weird. This has insider trading red flags sketchy stuff kine written all over it…i mean: can the citizens that have to deal with this place get some information on what is really going on?

    1. I saw a Vampire once July 28, 2021 3:17 pm Reply

      The state wants to take the project. Venture capitalist means the state owns the land via CIP. Nobody in particular. But how many bums are in the state? Fake lawmakers. A lot. But the state is calling it.

    2. Anton August 3, 2021 7:43 pm Reply

      Andrew, how did you connect the defaulting firm to the current bid firm?

  5. I saw a Vampire once July 27, 2021 9:27 am Reply

    What will they do now? The land was sold. More development? Or just buying a land to make something else. It’s going to be a waste if they build another hotel that is not needed. No guest in sight.

    1. hotdog July 28, 2021 2:51 am Reply

      andrew “This has insider trading”, this is not the Stock Exchange.

      By buying this from themselves during a Public Auction they got rid of the previous “Locals” that according to this Article “Mismanaged” the Property as “after the (“local”) hui defaulted on more than $11 million in financing on a $22-million mortgage.”

      If you, Andrew, defaulted on a $22 million mortgage you would be a permanent resident of Halawa Correctional Facility

  6. Sam G July 27, 2021 11:50 am Reply


  7. Kaumu Alii July 27, 2021 10:40 pm Reply

    Kauai is 5 Million years above sea level…firm dating.

    The first Polynesians from the South Pacific, Marquesas, a thousand years + or – headed north and when north enough, they headed more north towards those massive cumulonimbus cloud above Mauna Kea, but the Tradewinds blew their sails west till they ran ashore in Wailua, without passing by Niihau, but passing Maui, Molokai, Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Oahu, and blessed by Ke Akua, came ashore at Wailua, blessed with the mightiest fresh water flow off of Waialeale, the Wailua River, and did not need to let fate cause them to miss Wailua, which might have meant missing Kauai and heading off into the great pond of the Pacific possibly rediscovering the original Birthplace of Pa-see-fee-ka, (Pacifica), The Samoas, itself first discovered somehow some few thousand years earlier before, while seafarers of Asia wandering east by canoes out of Indonesia searching for new homes, perhaps in an ancient way the homeless found new homelands.

    In 1778, another explorer, by ship not canoe(s), was forced along the windy Trail of the Tradewinds and because his bulky European ship also could not steer true north to Havaiki, nor tropical Wailua, they came ashore in a dryer land but with the Waimea River draining the also Mighty Waimea Canyon and its abundant waters of the Waimea River. That, something in the heat of the air snapped, Cook’d as a metaphor, a dramatic change had just occurred, there is still twisting and turning.

    But the new and first Hawaiians, the first arrivals in time, perhaps the Menehune, discovered paradise, as we find it somewhat still today, lucky us all, where does the line of time get drawn in the sands, rivers, mountains, valleys, canyons, waves, waterfalls, beaches and rainbows, and paradise changing as a look in a rearview window.

    Is Wailua sacred? Of course and always will be, before, during, and after the waves are ridden and the fish feed the luau…Sacred in the hands of God’s personal representative in Hawai’i Nei, Mother Nature.

    Let the people who will protect the Garden, have Coco Palms and protect it in perpetuity as a testament to all of our duty caring for the Birthplace of Hawaii and the original new and recent Hawaiians.

    Mahalo Ke Akua for what we have, let’s keep it God’s way.

    1. Jess Us Chris T July 28, 2021 3:19 pm Reply

      God? I’m pretty sure the missionaries that came to the islands didn’t want the local heathens doing anything to pass on their traditions. Which is why hula was banned and they converted everyone to Christianity. “God’s way” would be to make coco palms into a resort since that is the american way. $$$

  8. hotdog July 28, 2021 2:39 am Reply

    The Hawaiians are playing the “Race Card”
    They had their chances, including “Lawmaker wants DHHL investigated for alleged money mismanagement”
    Fevella says DHHL asked legislators for millions of dollars for proposed projects like a casino in Kapolei — when it already has more than $300 million available.

    “They said that they were struggling, it couldn’t put Hawaiians in homes and they didn’t have money for infrastructure. So to me I just call it like it is. It’s a lie. It was a lie to begin with. They never needed the money, they wanted a casino,” said Senator Fevella (R District 19)

    This is just like my “Hawaiian” neighbors to the south of my House, somehow believe that by renting house south of my House, they somehow are renting my Property also. Me, paying Property Taxes sayd they do not own anything including the wall and about one foot, 12 inches, on the their side of my wall.

    The last real “Hawaiian” I knew was so “Hawaiian” Blood that he was “inherited” genetically messed up. He told me during College Sociology Class how too many of his Children, Nieces, Nephews were turning into what is known today as “Entitlement Babies”. They wanted everything given to them because they were .05 percent “Hawaiian”.

  9. Makaala July 28, 2021 8:05 am Reply

    Don’t turn these 46 acres into a park. I can just picture it, all the homeless hanging out. The State has a hard time taking care of the parks they already have.

  10. Paulo August 11, 2021 11:32 am Reply

    Interesting. Many o f these posts reveal how ignorant people are of the foreclosure process. I am sure the lenders whom foreclosed on the property would gladly sell to any locals or otherwise to recoup their losses, which appear to be plenty. I have been driving by that sad property for decades. It would be great if the local ‘Hawaiians’ could cut a practical deal with the owners and repurpose the property to the benefit of all the islanders.

  11. Suzy August 12, 2021 5:21 pm Reply

    Personally as a frequent visitor I’d love to see the area turned into a multicultural center. Truly , if done right it could bring in many people and give jobs to the locals. Maui has one and they host international events, Concerts and film festivals without over commercialization. Its blighted now. Nothing wrong with creating a beautiful beachside oasis for everyone to enjoy, just make it so its not for just the wealthy. Some public space, maybe a museum and garden and then a central gathering spot for cultural events.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.