|Remembering and Reviving the
Coco Palms Hotel
From The Honolulu Advertiser, March 13, 2001:
Coco Palms Closing in on Sale
WAILUA, Kaua‘i — The sale of the venerable Coco Palms Hotel has been hampered by zoning, highway and legal issues, but it appears to be nearing a close.
Developer James Reed, managing member of Coco Kauai LLC, plans to revise his approved development proposal but anticipates starting construction as early as the third quarter of this year, according to the office of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.
"Our beautiful, historic, world-renowned hotel property will once again grace Wailua Bay," said Kusaka, pronouncing herself "delighted" by the prospect in a news release announcing the pending sale.
The Coco Palms, developed in the 1950s, was the prototype Polynesian resort with thatch-roofed cottages, clamshell bathroom sinks and outrigger canoes hauled up along a historic lagoon — all set within the confines of a large coconut plantation.
The hotel was closed after being damaged in Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
Owner Wailua Associated battled with the property’s insurance carrier for years before reaching a settlement and eventually marketing the property.
Reed initially proposed a 232-unit timeshare property with 10 luxury hotel units, a proposal approved in large part by the Kaua‘i Planning Commission.
But Reed now has a new proposal, which will include more hotel and fewer timeshare.
The new plan would include a 150-room hotel, plus an undisclosed number of timeshare units described as "vacation ownership two-bedroom villas."
It would retain the hotel’s existing Queen’s Audience Hall, Coconut Palace and the wedding chapel.
Reed said he hopes to preserve much of the hotel’s original ambience and intends to restore the nightly torch-lighting ceremony. The property would also include a health spa and restaurant.
Kusaka said she is particularly pleased with the proposal to expand the number of traditional hotel rooms on the property.
The completed resort would employ more than 210 people, Reed said.
Among the issues raised during the planning commission’s review of the original proposal were the protection of historic sites and burials on the property and the route of a proposed new highway through the Wailua area.
Two of the potential routes involved taking some of the Coco Palms property.
The sale of the property by Wailua Associates to Reed’s group had been scheduled to be complete more than a year ago, but various issues, including zoning conditions and the highway alignment, have delayed closing.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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