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Coco Palms revival in limbo
By Kristen Consillio
Saturday, September 15, 2007

The $220 million revival of Kauai's ill-fated Coco Palms Resort was in limbo yesterday after its sales agent said developers were considering shelving the long-awaited restoration project because of a permitting setback and the slowdown in the overall residential resort market.

Donna Apisa, the listing agent for the proposed resort's 200 condominiums, said yesterday that Coco Palms Ventures had decided to drop plans to reconstruct the famed Wailua resort -- only to later retract her comment, citing a misunderstanding with the developer.

Richard Weiser, a part-time Kauai resident and principal of Coco Palms Ventures, did not return the Star-Bulletin's calls for comment yesterday. The other principals, Phillip Ross and Walter Petrie of Petrie Ross Ventures, also couldn't be reached.

However, Apisa said developers have contracted brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle and were considering selling the property in a closed-bid auction.

"They did specifically state that that's one option," she said. "That is not their definitive decision. They're just considering a variety of options."

The subprime lending crunch, which is contributing to a slowdown in residential resort sales, is one reason developers have chosen to reevaluate plans to rebuild the 18.8-acre resort with luxury condos, 104 hotel units, retail shops and restaurants, she said. Developers had planned to open the resort -- once the site of a wedding scene in Elvis Presley's film "Blue Hawaii" -- next summer.

Further fueling the decision was the July denial of a special management use permit to build a spa and fitness center. Developers said at the time the denial would have an adverse affect on the revival plans for the resort, which had been devastated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Coco Palms Ventures, a joint venture between the Weiser Cos. Inc. of South Carolina and Maryland-based Petrie Ross Ventures LLC, bought the resort in January 2006 for $12.3 million and began selling residential units in January. Apisa wouldn't disclose how many condominiums had been sold.

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