Perimeter fence to be in place soon around former Uncle Billy’s on Hilo’s Banyan Drive
A perimeter fence will soon be constructed around the entire property that houses the dilapidated and condemned former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel on Hilo’s iconic Banyan Drive. Demolition of the former 148-room hotel also is still on track to possibly begin by the end of the year.
The Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources cleared overgrown vegetation surrounding the front of the building Aug. 4 in preparation for installation of the perimeter fence.
The state has contracted Andrew’s Fencing of Hilo for the project. The company informed the Land Department that it will start work this month, which will take about a month to complete. The fence will physically secure the site from continued illegal occupation and to alleviate health and safety concerns.
An emergency proclamation issued July 18 by Hawai‘i Gov. Josh Green removes and/or expedites some of the regulatory processes associated with the fencing and demolition of the former hotel but does not exempt a demolition contractor from securing material disposal certificates and other regulatory permits. The state has not yet chosen a company for demolition.
Once Uncle Billy’s is demolished and the property is cleaned up and restored to bare ground, the Land Department will make recommendations to the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, in consultation with the community and stakeholders, for future use of the property.
This includes conducting an updated strategic assessment of the Banyan Drive area, including but not limited to feasibility, infrastructure and market studies to facilitate redevelopment.
“We are part of a collaborative working group coming up with a vision for the future of Banyan Drive and this will not be [the Department of Land and Natural Resources’] vision alone,” said Land Department Chairwoman Dawn Chang in a press release. “We believe that continued coordination with the Hawai‘i Island community, and in particular the Hilo community, can make Banyan Drive an economic engine and cultural resource for everyone.”
During its July 14 meeting, the state Land Board authorized Chang to negotiate an agreement with the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority to procure and manage a consultant for the redevelopment project.