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Public Input Sought on Keauhou Commercial, Historical Plan That Includes Resort Bungalows

By Tom Hasslinger
March 30, 2022, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated March 30, 9:34 AM
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The public is invited to a scoping meeting and to submit written testimony on Kamehameha School’s plan to renovate nearly 30 acres around Keauhou Bay into commercial and cultural attractions.

Kamehameha Schools is the state’s largest private landowner and has plans to redevelop 29 of the 54 acres of the area to better reconfigure traffic flow and create a heritage management corridor for the historical site.

The public scoping meeting is set for April 11 and will be on Zoom here. Written comments can be submitted until April 22 here.

An Environmental Impact Statement conducted by Honolulu-based consultant G70 and released March 23 outlined the school’s plan over 88 pages, focusing on highlighting the birth site of Kauikeaouli, who would go on to become Kamehameha III, and to relocate commercial activities next to the King’s birth site in order to honor the historical area as well as create a link to other cultural sites in the region through a heritage management corridor.

The plan is to “reorient uses at the bay and establish new place-based cultural education and revenue-generating opportunities,” a statement from the consultant in the EIS read.

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It also calls for building a boutique 150-unit bungalow-style resort.

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It would be spread over eight acres on the plateau overlooking the bay mauka of the reestablished Old Kona Road and host 43 two-story four-plex bungalows, according to the EIS.

A new commercial space would also be created south of Keauhou Bay to move those activities away from “culturally sensitive areas to alleviate congestion and establish a new place-based cultural educational center.”

The commercial space would include nearly 10,000-square feet of space for the businesses and a 3,000-square-foot fine dining restaurant. Smaller commercial operations, like food and craft stands and ocean recreational enterprises, would man kiosks on the north side of the bay.

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The Old Kona Road would be reestablished as the primary vehicle thoroughfare through the bay to flow cars away from the historical birth site.

Overall, the scope of the project is to steward and highlight the unique area’s qualities, the consultant said.

“Keauhou Bay is a small bay along the Kona Coast, traditionally known as a place of aliʻi residence and of pastimes such hōlua sledding and surfing,” the report reads. “Today, kama‘āina and visitors alike recognize the historical significance of Keauhou Bay relative to the birth of this significant Hawaiian leader while also enjoying the area as a popular ocean recreation and resort destination.”

The project will require multiple state and county permits. Work is expected to begin between 2023 and 2025.

“The Keauhou Bay Management Plan is separated into short-, mid- and long-term projects with the longest range projects (small kiosks) expected to be completed within 20 years,” stated KS spokesperson Crystal Kua stated in an email to Big Island Now. “The Keauhou Bay Management Plan is like a puzzle – each piece is strategically linked to and dependent upon the other to form the entire plan.”

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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