Here’s the very latest on the Kauai Coco Palms Resort, where so little has changed since we first toured the grounds and started writing about it. This was Kauai’s most iconic resort ever, where the rich and famous once stayed and Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii was filmed. The property consists of 20 acres fronting the highway combined with 15 acres of state-leased land. The current developer still has dozens of useless plans pending. Many of those are set to expire next year.
Kauai Coco Palms Resort never ceases to amaze us with its popularity. Nor does the fact that it remains as an eyesore and safety hazard on the island after being largely destroyed nearly 3 decades ago.
We receive and you can read a plethora of fascinating comments about 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 why with the latest details.
Essential concrete structures have failed.
The original building core was to be an integral part of the final development. That, however, is no longer possible. What has happened is that the steel rebar within the buildings’ concrete has corroded and failed due to exposure to ocean salt and moisture. The corroding steel has cracked the concrete and spall due to the swelling and the increase of the tensile load on the steel. While it was previously believed that only impacted upper floors, we can state unequivocally from our own observations that it has now terminally affected the entire infrastructure.
Only horses and cows, and drug dealing remain.
We have seen livestock on the property which were brought there to help to control invasive grasses. Drugs and other illegal activity remains rampant, even after the obscuring fencing was removed.
Kauai County Planning Commission failure.
Last week we listened as the Kauai County Planning Commission heard a report on the development that they largely did not understand. Subsequently, they took no action whatsoever. That in spite of the fact that all testimony received was in favor of moving on from the idea of rebuilding the hotel. Favored instead, seemingly by all stakeholders at this point, is a cultural park in some form.
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.”
Kauai’s prior mayor JoAnn Yukimura said development permits “should have never been issued.” She bemoaned that Kauai has doo many hotels as it already stands. “Removing the cloud of resort development from the properties 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.”
As others have said, Elvis has left the building.
BOH editors’ friend Allan Parachini jokingly wrote on his Facebook page 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 Kauai Resort – what’s next now?
The latest project 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 a great deal 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. That before those plans was largely terminated by nature. The iconic lagoon was also set to be restored as is shown in 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.
A multi-million dollar selective-demolition project was completed in 2016 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.
There is no place for Coco Palms Resort.
In addition to all of the 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. Many hotels have been built in recent years that, while not Coco Palms, offer beachfront locations at prices that could well undermine any potential for profitability.
1. There are dozens of remaining open permits with the County of Kauai, although there is no reference to developer Stillwater on any permits, nor any reference to Coco Palms on Stillwater’s website. There are no longer any websites associated with the Coco Palms Resort.
2. Colliers just removed its listing to sell the property. That previously said, “Since 2016, the new owners have obtained the entitlements and permits necessary for the redevelopment of the 350-room hotel along with restaurants, lounges, swimming pools, wedding venues and a spa. The concrete foundations and frames of the main hotel buildings remain allowing for expedited and less costly redevelopment.”
3. Planned connection to Koa Kea Resort dropped. The latest developer had previously been rumored to be in discussions with the Meritage Collection, about also running the Coco Palms.
5. Reopening as a Hyatt property 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 to be part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection.
6. In 2017, a dispute arose when a group of Native Hawaiians claiming to be descendants of Kauai’s King Kaumualii 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.
We welcome your thoughts.
Image courtesy of prior website cocopalmskauai.com.