Kauai County panel defers Coco Palms permit decision until next month


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LIHUE, Hawaii — The Kauai County Planning Commission has deferred its decision on whether to issue permits for the rebuilding of Kauai's famed Coco Palms resort.

The commission unanimously deferred the matter until a Feb. 10 meeting, The Garden Island (http://bit.ly/1Bydnts) newspaper reported.

The Coco Palms Resort is the only major hotel that did not reopen after Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Built in 1953, the property became famous when Elvis Presley filmed his 1961 movie "Blue Hawaii" there.

Coco Palms Hui LLC has proposed a $135 million project to restore the historic resort and turn it into a Hyatt.

The new resort would have 273 hotel rooms and 77 suites. The original hotel had about 400 rooms.

Agor Architects LLC owner Ron Agor said the three guest room buildings along Kuhio Highway will be gutted and rebuilt.

Other well-known buildings, including the King and Queen Lagoon Buildings, will be re-built and raised above the ground to comply with federal flood requirements.

Agor said four dedicated hotel entrance and exit points will help alleviate traffic along Kuhio Highway even after state Department of Transportation completes plans to expand the road to a four lanes.

Kauai County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said Coco Palms developers should be required to construct a pedestrian overpass over Kuhio Highway between the hotel and Wailua Beach. They should also have to formulate a traffic mitigation plan for the entire Royal Coconut Coast region, she said.

Some supporters are optimistic developers will be able to bring the aging hotel back to life.

Jill Swanson, of Sierra Vista, Arizona, said she intends to bring three generations of her family to Kauai once the hotel reopens so she can share her past Coco Palms experiences with them.

"The stories told are that the resort, the people and the ambience all make you feel as if you were a part of the Hawaiian history and that you have been embraced by the Coco Palms family," Swanson wrote in a letter to Planning Commissioners.

Information from: The Garden Island, http://thegardenisland.com/

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