Joined: Apr 09, 2003
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
|Posted: 2012-09-10 07:50 am  Permalink|
DC: Thank you for the excellent photodocumentary, especially as that structure is, once again, rumored to be redeveloped:
Patrick Duddy, of Relax Hotels and Spas and Maxum Construction of Hawai‘i LLC, has been behind the scenes of Coco Palms development for years.
He is reportedly working with as-yet-unnamed investors interested in the property.
“This project is a great opportunity and once we get investors to pull the trigger, we can bring back an incredible property for the people of Kaua‘i,” Duddy said. “The mayor of the island is an absolute prince who really wants to see it built.”
Duddy said he is working with various groups to try to bring the project to fruition. There are huge challenges, he said, from incorporating existing entitlements and permits with their vision to move forward.
“It has not happened yet,” Duddy said. “We are in constant communication.”
The resort zoning area is for 16.4 acres, while the 17-acre coconut grove is conservation-zoned land leased from the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources.
A major issue, Duddy said, is that the property is below the FEMA flood plane and likely could not be insured in its current condition. He said there is a good chance of getting a project started if the groups work through the due diligence process.
Hurricane ‘Iniki severely damaged the property in 1992 and it fell into disrepair as insurance claim battles went on for years.
The County Planning Commission denied a health and fitness spa project in 2007. The most recent effort to build a condominium, housing and hotel project was abandoned soon after, with another hotel project by the current owner, Phillip Ross and Coco Palms Ventures, said to be derailed by the economic downfall in 2008.
The resort plans lagged and the county granted an extension of permits in 2009 to allow the owners to demolish and construct by 2013. The current permit is to build 200 multi-family dwellings and 48 hotel units, along with rebuilding the Seashell Restaurant, a pedestrian bridge over Kuhio Highway and traffic improvements.
The property remains up for sale with the project not showing any signs of progress.
As Coco Palms lay dormant, other work in the area has drawn protests as burials and artifacts continue to be uncovered during construction digs. There are natural wetlands on the property that parallels the mouth of the Wailua River. It was once the site of many royal dwellings and religious structures.
The fishpond was man-made and has taken a variety of shapes through the centuries. It was designated in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
Nonprofit groups have fought to protect the property and to require any project to preserve and ensure public to cultural and historic areas.
Friends of Coco Palms, an informal group committed to protecting the history and culture of Coco Palms, began meeting in 2007. The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust serves as fiscal sponsor.
Contemporary concerns also focus on preserving the history of the world-famous resort. The property was a location for several well-known movie scenes and many celebrities were regular guests at the hotel. Thousands of couples were married at the lagoon and honeymooned at the hotel and cottages.
In 2009, arson heavily damaged the retail annex that fronts the highway. The site has more recently become the target of vandals, copper thieves and ornament hunters.
The only allowed activity on the property recently has been the Hawai‘i Movie Tours by Bob Jasper. Each weekday at 2 p.m., for $20 — or free to Kaua‘i residents on Fridays — he offers a tour and storytelling of the safe areas of the movie sites, grove, lagoon and the main lobby with its roof ripped back as a living reminder of the destructive force of Hurricane ‘Iniki.