It’s been a year since we last wrote about the Kauai Coco Palms Resort. The lead photo above is what someone dreamed would occur next. But alas, that won’t be happening, and here’s why. Grab a cup of coffee, then read on.
Foreclosure sale set for July 26.
A foreclosure auction will take place at the Fifth Circuit Courthouse near Lihue Airport.
This time, the property that is famously located across from Wailua Beach is being sold without warranty to the highest bidder. It will be sold in “as-is condition,” which is frankly terrible. The winning bid will require 10% in cash, money order, certified check, or cashier’s check. The buyer pays all closing costs.
The last of a string of failed efforts to rebuild the hotel would have turned it into 350 new rooms and cottages. That plan started in 2015 and then changed hands through defaulting on a $22M mortgage again in 2019.
Is Demolition Imminent for Coco Palms?
Earlier this week, we read in multiple publications that Coco Palms was set to be demolished. We have been unable to verify that unsubstantiated claim, and the county was not aware of a demolition permit being issued. So this could still be true, and perhaps not yet.
Ultra-popular Coco Palms of the past. Kauai’s most iconic resort ever.
This was where the rich and famous once stayed, and Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii was filmed. The property consists of 20 acres fronting the highway at Wailua Beach, combined with 15 acres of state-leased land.
Kauai Coco Palms Resort never ceases to amaze us with its enduring popularity. Nor does the fact that it remains an unexpectedly awful eyesore and safety hazard on the island after being largely destroyed nearly 3 decades ago during Hurricane Iniki.
This post has been read 200,000 times, which is some indication of your love of and fascination with Coco Palms. You can read hundreds of fascinating comments depicting your fond memories of Coco Palms and ongoing dreams for its future.
The sad truth, however, is that Coco Palms will never be redeveloped. Read on for more on that.
All essential concrete structures have failed.
The original building core was to be an integral part of any final development. That, however, became impossible. What happened is that the steel rebar within the buildings’ concrete corroded and failed due to exposure to ocean salt and moisture. The corroding steel cracked the concrete and spall due to the swelling and increased tensile load on the steel. While it was previously believed the issue only impacted upper floors, we can state unequivocally from our own observations that it has now terminally affected the entire infrastructure.
Why Coco Palms can never be a hotel again.
BOH editors’ friend and Kauai Council Member Felicia Cowden wrote asking that Coco Palms be “set aside for a future community wilderness or cultural park. Those prime, historically significant lands should not be attached to the problematic private pieces to help move a distressed asset.” We reached out to Felicia for this article but did not hear back by the time of publishing.
Kauai’s prior mayor JoAnn Yukimura said development permits “should have never been issued.” She bemoaned that Kauai has too many hotels as it already stands. “Removing the cloud of resort development from the property will enable the community to come together around a new vision for that site — a vision that could include a park and culture center that interprets the history of the place.”
“Elvis has left the building.”
Another BOH editors’ friend Allan Parachini jokingly wrote on his Facebook page during Covid about Coco Palms Resort: “I am so happy to hear today that Kauai County has officially designated a Quarantine Hotel for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic…As you can see, all of the accommodations have plenty of fresh air.”
Coco Palms current condition.
The last round of attempts disintegrated with multiple developers unable to make it work—all to the chagrin of visitors, locals, and the Kauai County government.
When driving by, you see enormous amounts of ugly, original concrete and steel, as in the image below. The developers had planned to use these pre-existing steel and concrete structures as the base of the new resort before those plans were terminated by nature and finances. The iconic lagoon was also set to be restored as is shown in the image depiction above.
Beat of Hawaii: Coco Palms sits largely unchanged, destroyed through hurricane, fraud, neglect, and to this day, ongoing controversy for over a quarter-century.
In 2016, a multi-million dollar selective-demolition project was completed, as seen in the photo above. This included drywall and asbestos removal, electrical and mechanical repairs, renovations at the Lotus Restaurant, and bungalow building. It pretty much was stripped clean. And it has sat virtually untouched since then.
There is no place for a new Coco Palms Resort.
In addition to countless other issues, Coco Palms would no longer be viable as a hotel. The property is located on what has become a very noisy stretch of Kuhio Highway, and it has no beach access. In recent years, many hotels have been built that, while not Coco Palms, offer beachfront locations at prices that could well undermine any potential for profitability.
Could Zuckerberg play a role?
We were just wondering. Turned into a historic park or something similar via a gift to the county or otherwise, this could be a way for the island’s wealthiest to make a very favorable impact. Kauai is Zuckerberg’s island home. Who else might help?
Did You Know?
1. A once planned connection to the Koa Kea Resort was dropped. The last developer was rumored to have been in discussions with the Meritage Collection, about running the Coco Palms in addition to Koa Kea.
2. Reopening as a Hyatt property was also aborted. In 2014, the plan was for Coco Palms to reopen in 2020 with 273 rooms, 77 suites, 3 restaurants, a cultural center, 12k square feet of retail, and more. It was then to be part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection.
3. In 2017, a dispute arose when a group of Native Hawaiians claiming to be descendants of Kauai’s King Kaumuali’i began living on the property. A judge refused to remove them from Coco Palms while determining the rightful owners. Developers said, “The county recognizes us as the owner of the property.” That was affirmed by the court in 2018.
4. The land is considered ancient Hawaiian royal property and disputes have been ongoing since the 1800s.
And a final note.
If you want to own one unusual piece of Coco Palms memorabilia, the prior website, cocopalmskauai.com, is on sale for $2,995.
We welcome your comments.