The Garden Island has gone all booster on Coco Palms, which it describes as a “blessing to Kauai."
It's hard to know whether it was the “swaying palms,” the “golden voice of the always charismatic and lovable Larry Rivera” or the kumbaya tenor of the recent blessing, but the newspaper took the chump bait and delivered up a Sunday editorial that shows both its gullibility and its ignorance. To wit:
Most towns would want to tear down what was left of a crumbling and rotting resort, at the very least to not provide a likely home for hordes of rats. But for reasons not everyone is aware of and understands, the shell of Coco Palms refused to die.
This is no mystery. The county wanted to tear it down, but found it legally could not, and all the other potential developers bailed before they got that far.
For the most part, most folks were satisfied to leave the resort as it was.
Bullshit. Everyone wanted that eyesore torn down, and many people were angry with the county for allowing developers to keep selling the property and its permit entitlements without removing the wreckage.
And it wasn’t just a lousy economy that stopped any development plans.
More bullshit. It's always been about the money, specifcally, the inability of developers to raise sufficient quanities to see a rebuild through.
This $135 million project will breathe more life into an island economy all too dependent on tourism. Ask any economist what drives an economy, what keeps it growing. The answer is construction.
This is the big problem with Kauai. Its eggs are in two baskets: tourism and construction, neither of which are sustainable. This project just perpetuates more of the same dependence on tourism.
[Chad] Waters and [Tyler] Greene didn’t come here looking to desecrate and destroy and cause traffic jams.
No, they came here to make money.
They will respect the land. They will honor it. They know how sacred it is. And they will do this project right.
Yeah, maybe, if you're talking about the kind of honor that's found among thieves. And I'm willing to bet they aren't gonna do this project at all, much less right.
Traffic is, for many, the primary problem that will come with this new resort. That is a valid concern as traffic certainly will increase. But with planning, the developers believe massive traffic jams can be avoided. And Kauai can’t say no to every development because it will put more cars on the road.
The problem is, there isn't any planning associated with this project to avoid massive traffic jams. And yes, Kauai can and should say no to big development projects that will put a lot more cars on the road without doing anything to resolve the subsequent jams.
While it's busy acting as cheerleader, TGI totally ignores the sham-scam aspect of this project. In doing a bit of research, I saw a Pacific Business News article dated March 12, 2015 that had Waters claiming demolition would begin in a “few months.”
Yet here we are, seven months later, and now the claim is demolition will begin in four-to-six weeks.
That article was preceded by an August 2013 article in TGI that reported:
An Oahu-based group of investors announced Thursday the property is in escrow, and they have already secured demolition permits.
“If everything goes well, we’ll start construction in the first or second quarter of next year,” said Chad Waters, one of the members of the newly-formed Coco Palms Hui LLC.
So apparently things haven't gone well from the start. But we're supposed to believe it's all good to go now?
The developers are still claiming it will be all pau by spring 2017. But even the Hyatt's press release cites a following a two-year reconstruction period. Starting from now, that's late 2017. And they haven't actually started any construction.
Meanwhile, since that March 2015 PBN article, the project cost has gone from $100 million to $130 million. But I've been unable to find any info on who is bankrolling this project, or any reason to believe Waters and Greene will succeed where so many others have failed.
As one person noted in TGI comments: "Where da kala?"
Or is this just gonna be another permit and flip scheme?
To further bolster its belief in the developers' "sincerity," TGI gives us a rundown on the manini assessments the county has levied on this project: $110,000 in cash donations, some work on Apana Road, an airport shuttle service. In other words, they'll have to kick down maybe a couple mill on a $130 million project, proving once again that Kauai County is selling the island way too cheap. What about an affordable housing requirement? Parks and open space finds? Sewage fees?
And exactly how much, and when, are they supposed to kick in for "future traffic and pedestrian issue resolutions?"
Lots of people seem to have succumbed to the Coco Palms dream, but you know, you just can't re-create the past. Elvis is dead, and so is Coco Palms, which is mostly marketing myth, anyway. If this project reaches completion, it'll be a miracle. And if it doesn't, then it really will be a blessing.
* With a nod to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers:
Yeah runnin' down a dream
It never would come to me….