If you’re shaking your head in disbelief, you aren’t alone. Here comes Coco Palms 2026. Despite the horrendous traffic, eroded beach, plus development, cultural, and staffing concerns, redevelopment of the long-gone resort starts now.
Coco Palms demolition and construction to begin in April.
The Kauai resort where the rich and famous once played, including Elvis Presley and Blue Hawaii, will be demolished and then rebuilt by the new owners starting next month. In fact, we were told that the work could even begin as soon as next week.
Today the last tour of the grounds was conducted by Bob “Kauai” Jasper. He’s been leading tours for 27 years, and now at age 77 years, he’ll be looking for other things to do. Bob also is the administrator of the Coco Coco Palms Resort, Kauai Facebook Group.
The once beautiful resort is surrounded by new construction fencing but otherwise sits in shambles, essentially unchanged since Hurricane Iniki destroyed it in 1992.
The County of Kauai will not interfere.
The owners, Capital Partners, the Utah investment firm, will push forward without interference from the County of Kauai. And without regard to past or future protests against development and for a cultural venue to replace the long-failed hotel.
Once demolition ends and construction starts, the developer plans for a three-year completion time frame. Given how things work on Kauai, we’d say add a couple of years in all likelihood.
The builder was the prior lender on the property and later became the developer when the last developer defaulted on its debt. Reef Capital estimates the project cost at approximately $160M, which given the scope of work, at least to us, seems less than expected.
While there were indications that the owner was at one point planning to sell the property, which spawned hope for a cultural development, that failed to materialize.
The Kauai Planning Commission will apparently not stand in the way of the project so long as the planned work actually starts, which has to date never occurred. The Commission is operating on the belief that the permits, many of which date back to 2015, remain valid.
Awful traffic, eroded beach, development, staffing, and cultural concerns.
This comes at a difficult time for Kauai, which is visitor development adverse.
Not only that, but the resort sits on the spot of the very worst traffic on the entire island, which we previously referred to as the “Kapaa Crawl.” The traffic situation and the negative impact a 350-room hotel will have can’t be overstated. Just this week, we wrote about the Kauai traffic gridlock in that area, for which any remediation is many years away, if ever.
As many have pointed out, the beach fronting the hotel has suffered and has often been gone due to erosion.
And the location is deemed to be so historically and culturally significant that many believe it should not be allowed to become yet another hotel.
Lastly, finding staffing in Hawaii hospitality is challenging, and the problem appears to be getting worse, not better. Restaurants and other businesses have already closed as a result.
The resort will undoubtedly plan mitigation for all the above issues and more, but to what degree those efforts will be successful is highly doubtful.
We only learned of these new owners last summer.
The new Utah-based company was first revealed at a Planning Commission meeting last year. Reef Capital Partners announced the new company’s name as Coco Palms 2021. At the time, the owner’s representative said it was his first visit to Kauai. He also said that the company had not held any community meetings addressing public concerns about Coco Palms redevelopment. At the time, he indicated that all buildings would be taken to the ground within six months, which time has passed.
Will the building foundations still be preserved?
The developer’s representative also said last year that the building foundations below would be preserved as is. That dumbfounded some at the hearing as being impossible.
The 2022 Planning Commission meeting exploded in furor.
Many thought last summer that the Planning Commission would see fit to end the long-delayed, and some believed no longer valid permits. However, the commission clarified that it would receive and consider approving the required reporting from the developer. The commission chair said the purpose was to review the “Coco Palms status report agenda item.”
It should be noted that the testimony at the extended meeting was unprecedented and was uniformly against future hotel development. It isn’t clear what other processes the developers will now face, including environmental impact surveys.
At the meeting last year, we reported, “Council member and Beat of Hawaii editors’ friend Felicia Cowden testified that the developer had previously indicated that too many things were working against a future hotel development. ‘Watching how much there is profound cultural roots in that property — there were 86 bodies found symmetrically buried on the ground.’ She indicated that testimony related to the excavation was never addressed. ‘Don’t yet again break hearts, upset people.'”
Following a private executive meeting, the commission indicated that it had approved the extension of the set two-year limits on the prior permits.
Here comes Coco Palms 2026. Despite the horrendous traffic, no beach, plus development, cultural, and staffing concerns.
Overwhelming community opposition and pleas notwithstanding, the non-oceanfront, non-beach, heavy traffic Coco Palms resort restoration is going forward.
Read the definitive Coco Palms article, which has more than 400 comments.
We look forward to your input!
The image above is a prior development version artist’s rendition.