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BLOG: KHON News and the ‘Phantom Towers’ of Naniloa

Posted December 14, 2013, 07:41 PM HST Updated December 17, 2013, 10:50 AM HST
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Rushed reporting may account for KHON's 'phantom towers.' Public domain image.

As the state media became captivated this week by claims that soon-to-be “Ex” Naniloa owner Ken Fujiyama had allegedly poached artwork, silverware other property from the now bankrupt resort, more than one major news outlet managed to publish stories about the hotel that contained factual errors we found amusing.

The Ghost of Business Ventures Past

On Dec. 13, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser posted a story detailing some of the accusations leveled at Fujiyama by Tower Development CEO Ed Bushor (who partnered with artist Wyland to purchase the resort).

Among other things, Fujiyama is accused of removing linens and kitchen equipment, allegations the bankruptcy trustee in the case, David Farmer, has denied.

In its article, the Star-Advertiser described Ken Fujiyama’s company as the owner of the “Volcano House Hotel and wedding and restaurant operation Nani Mau Gardens.”

But Fujiyama hasn’t owned Nani Mau since August of 2012, when it was sold in foreclosure. As for the Volcano House, Fujiyama’s contract there expired in 2009. These and other not-so-buried facts can be uncovered rather quickly with a simple web search.

Ken Fujiyama. Facebook photo.

Ken Fujiyama. Facebook photo.

The Star-Advertiser also described the Naniloa as having 333 rooms. By our count, there are 385.

We think it’s safe to assume Fujiyama didn’t cart off with the balance.

But the Star Advertiser’s errors were thoroughly trumped by a feat of (probable) fiction over at KHON2 News.

The Case of the Phantom Towers

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According a report published at KHON’s website on December 13, Tower Development Inc plans to build “three new towers” on the Naniloa property.

KHON’s news brief goes on to explain that, “The first two [towers] would be completed by November of next year and house 320 rooms.”

If true, those plans could prove challenging.

For one thing, building two new high-rise hotel towers in Hilo in less than one year would be the greatest feat of permitting our island has ever seen.

Space could also be a problem, although we suppose the neighboring golf course could lose a few holes to make room for some extra square footage.

But assuming we and KHON were reading from the same court filing, we think they may have simply misinterpreted things a little bit.

Marine artist "Wyland", famous for his building-length paintings of marine mammals.

Marine artist Wyland, famous for his building-length paintings of marine mammals.

The more likely scenario is outlined in the actual document submitted by Tower Development’s attorney to the Board of Land and Natural Resources, which calls for renovations to 320 rooms in two of the resort’s three towers, to be completed by Nov. 30 of next year.

Of course, it’s possible that we’re wrong, and KHON is right.

Maybe Wyland is simply itching for three extra high-rises to paint.

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