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  From The Honolulu Advertiser, Page A-1, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1999:

Kauai's Coco Palms to be given new life
By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kauai Bureau

LIHUE, Kauai — The new developer of Kauai’s oldest hotel, the Coco Palms, wants to keep a traditional feeling about the place while building an entirely new resort — one that’s more time-share than hotel.

The 396-room resort has been closed since a few months after Hurricane Iniki struck Sept. 11, 1992. It was a classic Hawaii resort, built on an old coconut plantation and featuring a few units with thatched roofs overlooking a lagoon where outrigger canoes were hauled up on the shore.

This was the place where the last 20 minutes of Elvis Presley’s "Blue Hawaii" were shot in 1961. Those were the scenes, including arrival by ceremonial boat, in which the rock idol and film bride were married to the tune of "The Hawaiian Wedding Song."

It was a resort where sinks of guest bathrooms took the form of giant shells. The decor was distinctly Polynesian.

The new owners hope to retain that feeling, said developer James Reed, director of Lincoln Consulting Group, a partner in the hui that has the property in escrow. The first public airing of the new plan comes tomorrow at a Kauai Planning Commission hearing on its shoreline management area permit.

One major change is that everything along the makai end of the property would be higher because regulations now require habitable floors to be at least 15 feet above sea level, to withstand even a "100-year flood." A notable change would be the elevation by 10 or more feet of the famed Coco Palms lagoons, which are now about 2 feet above sea level.

All existing resort and commercial buildings would be demolished because of hurricane damage and post-Iniki deterioration, the developer said in paperwork submitted to the Kauai Planning Department.

Under the plan, the developer would build 232 apartment units to be sold as interval ownership or time-share units. They would be in three-story and four-story buildings, separated from Kuhio Highway by a vegetated buffer zone 30 to 60 feet deep.

Additionally, there would be 20 luxury suites in 10 one-story duplexes to be rented as hotel rooms. Seven would be on the lagoon and three near the tennis complex at the mauka end of the property.

The unit where Elvis stayed during the "Blue Hawaii" filming would be restored and moved within the coconut grove. The hotel entrance would be near the mauka end of the property on Kuamoo Road, with a drive curving through the palms. A new lobby, designed to look much like the original, would face the coconut trees instead of looking makai.

The Seashell Restaurant on Wailua Beach would be rebuilt. Guests will cross the highway on a Polynesian-design footbridge, Reed said.

Lincoln Consulting, based in Newport Beach, Calif., has hired the Honolulu firm of Wimberly, Allison Tong & Goo to design the project, which it estimates will cost $60 million. Reed said the company hopes to have the resort open by the end of 2001 or early 2002.

While most of the project will be sold for time-shares, Reed said, much of it will always operate as a hotel. Initially, all the units will be pooled for hotel use. And even after all or most are sold, those units not in use will be rented as hotel rooms, he said.

Standard time-share occupancy is envisioned at 80 to 85 percent. With the luxury suites, there would be about 60 rooms available for hotel guests nightly.

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