East Hawaii News

Naniloa Buyer Outlines Plans for ‘The Wyland Hilo’

December 13, 2013, 8:02 PM HST
* Updated December 13, 8:05 PM
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The proposed buyer of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort today presented the state with its preliminary plans for the beleaguered Hilo hotel.

An attorney for Ed Bushor, CEO of Tower Development Inc., told the state Board of Land and Natural Resources that a variety of problems left by current Naniloa owner Ken Fujiyama would be corrected by Tuesday, Dec. 17, the day before a bankruptcy court hearing on the resort’s transfer.

Those problems include hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid state and county taxes which resulted in the state lease for the land under the resort and a 9-hole golf course being considered in default.

Planning would also begin then on improvements to correct dilapidated conditions of the resort, with implementation of those to begin on Jan. 1, Bushor’s lawyer said.

Processing for new permits for the hotel apparently to be renamed “The Wyland Hilo” will begin on March 1, according to the timeline provided to land board members.

Marine artist Wyland has partnered with Bushor in the creation of WHR LLC, a company formed to purchase the hotel.

The grand opening for “Willie Ks Gig,” which is apparently a nightclub planned for the resort, would be held Nov. 1, 2014.

Board members were told that renovations to 320 rooms in two of the resort’s three towers would be completed by Nov. 30, 2014, with a grand opening for those towers scheduled for a month later.

A schedule for renovation of Tower 3, which is currently known as the Kilauea Tower and which has stood empty and decaying since at least 2006, is still to be determined.

Bushor himself was scheduled to appear today before the land board in Honolulu but was unable to leave Hilo because of demands related to the hotel’s transfer, according to a letter presented by his attorney to board members.

“There are simply too many problems and details that must be resolved on Friday through Monday,” the letter said. “None of these matters is fatal to the deal, but the (sic) all require close attention and my presence at the property.”

“We have engaged skilled and experience (sic) managers and we have a construction and design team hard at work on plans for renovations,” the letter said.

According to the letter, the prospective new owners have an “unwavering commitment to restore the Naniloa to its glory.”

The Board of Land and Natural Resources took no action on the matter today because the bankruptcy court has not officially accepted WHR’s offer to purchase the resort, a spokeswoman said.

State officials have said the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which manages state leases, is concerned about the position taken by Judge Robert J. Faris that the US Bankruptcy Court has the authority to transfer the lease for the land under the Naniloa without first obtaining state approval.

As a result, the DLNR is considering appealing the transfer “as that would not be a good precedent,” spokeswoman Deborah Ward said.

Russell Tsuji, head of the DLNR’s Land Division, told Big Island Now that the department is also concerned that the bankruptcy court so far had not required the new buyers to remedy all of the existing problems.

That includes county issues, Tsuji said.

“The court also did not require the buyer to show their plans for renovation,” he said.

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