Once iconic Coco Palms to be demolished for new 350-room resort on Kauaʻi
The dilapidated and unsafe remains of Coco Palms Resort – the iconic hotel that once played host to Hollywood stars including Elvis Presley on the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i – will soon be gone.
Utah-based developers said at the April 14 meeting of the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources that the 46-acre property, which has been in ruins since it was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, will finally be demolished to make way for a new 350-room hotel.
Patrick Manning, a managing director of Reef Capital Partners, previously said: “I only develop projects that are important. I … walked the land many times and have a heavy heart because of those that came before Coco Palms to the more recent celebrity era.”
Dust screens were erected around the Coco Palms property earlier this year. The site, located in Wailuā on the East Side of Kaua‘i, features an ancient fishpond and is located within one of the most sacred regions in all of the Hawaiian Islands.
The site also includes graves.
“My great-grandmother’s buried there,” said visibly-upset cultural practitioner Joseph Kekaulike Kamai. “My [great] grandmother’s been at rest for over 80 years and I don’t want her coming to me, crying, and telling me they pulled her out of the ground.”
The $250 million project, which will include a cultural center to honor the property’s history, will be built on about 10 acres of the property. It will take three years to complete, Manning said at the meeting.
Several people spoke in opposition to the new resort at the meeting. Some, including former State Sen. Gary Hooser, were members of I Ola Wailuanui, a Native Hawaiian-led working group that hopes to steward the property.
But all concerned believe the remnants of Coco Palms are an eyesore that must be removed sooner rather than later.
Reef Capital Partners’ new plans to remove the ruins represent an about-face, months after County of Kaua‘i Planning Director Kaʻāina Hull appeared to blast the developers for comments made by their architect Ron Agor.
Agor said developers planned to retrofit Coco Palms’ remaining infrastructure, rather than remove it, during a public County of Kaua‘i Planning Commission meeting held in January.
““[I was] shocked by statements made,” a visibly-angry Hull told the Planning Commission not long after Agor’s testimony.