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  From The Garden Island, August 8, 2009

Ravaged restaurant could change hands
By Paul C. Curtis - The Garden Island
Published: Saturday, August 8, 2009 2:10 AM HST

Buyer also interested in Coco Palms Resort

WAILUA : The real estate agent listing for sale the former Seashell Restaurant parcel said she has at least one "very interested buyer" that may also be interested in the entire Coco Palms Resort across Kuhio Highway.

The entire property is for sale, with the Seashell parcel listed for $1.8 million, said Maryanne Kusaka, the agent and former Kaua'i mayor, in a telephone interview Thursday.

Coco Palms Ventures LLC, whose principal is Phil Ross of the Maryland-based development company Petrie Ross LLC, is also seeking a financial partner in the redevelopment of the Coco Palms Resort, which has remain closed since Hurricane 'Iniki in September of 1992.

Coco Palms Ventures LLC lost its original financing after permits for a planned spa on the property were denied, Kusaka said.

Ross and partner Walt Petrie were both out of their offices Friday and not available for comment. A message left on the cell phone of Ross went unreturned Friday.

The Seashell Restaurant building is in a state of disrepair, with pillows and blankets on the floor of the former restaurant indicating someone likely has been sleeping there.

Kusaka said in order for any buyer to reopen the restaurant and have former restaurant permits grandfathered, the new owner could not change the footprint by more than 50 percent without having to apply for new county permits.

Across the highway, Kusaka said a successful resort development would have to be scaled back a bit from the former Coco Palms Resort, in order to make it work financially.

"They would like to re-do the property," said Kusaka, adding that it would be nice to see a renewed Coco Palms Resort restored "to its old grandeur," and run as a hotel and not a condominium project.

A different interested buyer from over a year ago is no longer interested.

Shell Vacations, owners of the Kauaei Coast Resort at the Beachboy, makai of Kuhio Highway near the Coconut Plantation Marketplace in Waipouli, had begun due diligence either late in 2007 or early in 2008 toward a possible purchase of the Coco Palms Resort property, but is no longer interested either in acquisition or partnership, a company spokesperson said during a brief telephone interview Friday.

Coco Palms Venture II LLC acquired the property in 2006 for $12.3 million with the intent to restore it to an operational state, but when the housing market fell last year, the venture's plans went with it.

Coco Palms still has permits for 200 condos, 104 hotel rooms, dining and retail, but never established an asking price when they listed the property with Jones Lange LaSalle in September 2007.

The venture recently received Kauaei Planning Commission approval giving them three additional years to develop the former landmark resort.

Rumors that wildlife artist Wyland, who lives part-time on O'ahu and has Kaua'i galleries at Kaua'i Village in Waipouli and Po'ipu Shopping Village, was considering purchasing Coco Palms remain unconfirmed.

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