Monday, October 19, 2015

Musings: Runnin' Down a Dream*

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.

Yeah runnin' down a dream
It never would come to me….


Manuahi said...

Joan, many of us do remember Grace Guslander' wonderful hotel and would love to see it back in operation. I may be wrong but I believe the refurbishing and reopening was delayed for years, if not decades, over the owner's insurance claims that their insurance company fought to not pay. That's the way it is with insurance companies. They love to collect you premiums but will fight tooth and nail to not pay out. True customer service.

Unknown said...

Green and Waters was supposed to be developing a community in Kaneohe also. I somehow think that nothing came of that either. I'm not surprised that Coco Palms is going the same way too.

Anonymous said...

How will the hotel guests get to the beach and who will watch them once they get there?

Someone who knows better said...

I'm just wondering about what happened with the $18 million the federal government (maybe state gov, can't remember 100%) had earmarked in 2008 to bury utility lines between the south of Kapaa bypass and the south entrance of Lydgate Park, which would make it much easier to widen the road to alleviate the island's busiest corridor - that dreaded and infamous piece of highway in front of Coco Palms. Anyway, let's move on, build a park with a little Elvis shrine on it and that's enough. Elvis is dead and nearly forgotten elsewhere. No one would come here to see Elvis' old watering hole anymore. Tourists want a hotel with all the amenities of First World and servants from Third World. Bulldoze that monster and put a park there. And move the highway to behind the park so we can have what we really need, a beach park. If the point is tourism, problem solved, you'll see how many tourists would flock to Wailua!

Anonymous said...

10:40 - If that were so, Waimea Plantation Cottages wouldn't be enjoying their consistent 80%+ occupancy rates. No, there's lots of folks out there that love any amount of nostalgia they can find; even if it was long before their time. Ever stayed in an English castle? [Probably not]

Anonymous said...

Put a park with old Hawaiian activities and a Hawaiian cultural center but remember to put in a lot of over head cover (shade) because when it rains on Kauai, it pours.

Charge for parking, concessions, luau, shows, activities and whatever else you capitalists can milk out of the tourist.

But remember kama'aina rates for the locals. Cheehuu

Unknown said...

@Someone who knows better

"Tourists want a hotel with all the amenities of First World and servants from Third World."

That's a brilliant way of putting it.

Anonymous said...

I just don't see the razing and re-building being done. I have heard it too many times.

I agree with 10:35 a.m., tear it down and then build a park with a walkway to the beach with a newer wider road. Build an open amphitheater; a museum, and charge for admission with deep discounts to our locals.

No one who will be alive in 10 years cares about the Coco Palms anymore. I sure don't anymore.

But who are we kidding... anything would be better than the wreckage that is there now.

Anonymous said...

It's so funny how people are so full of self-serving suggestions for other people's property especially when it won't cost them a cent. How about you fools raising the millions of dollars to buy it and then we'll see what money-losing suggestions you come up with. lol!

Anonymous said...

Joan, Here I see that you are sending out negative messages again regarding Kauai being dependent on tourism-I would like to know what is your solution to the economy on Kauai? If tourism goes-then what?

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan:
I just looked up who the owners of Coco Palms are.
It is PR11 coco palms llc
4 Embarcadero Center
Suite 2700
San Fran. Cal. 94111
I could not find out anything that said that Coco Palms Hui LLC owns it.
Maybe they have another company behind them?
Maybe if they can get their ducks in a row they can flip it.

Anonymous said...

The County looked into having the State or County acquire the property. The State was not interested, the County simply does not have the money and never will. It is too much to purchase, much less fight over both the resort interests and the Hawaiians who want it for nothing, by having someone else pay.
I would like the Beach Path cross over and run in back along the old drainage way, cross over to the back way to the heist. I think we can afford that and the State might help a bit.

Anonymous said...

Heiau, damn apple spell check.

Anonymous said...

Methinks the boys who are the face of this project don't have the money. The only answer that came up during the "intensive" Council questioning was that the developers were trying to get an EB-5 Visa type loan. Complicated, but in essence it gives green cards to a foreign investor who dumps the money. They were looking for Maoist Commie yuan for the development.
The Council got scammed. The first requirement should have been that for ANY Iniki based permits (which meant that most all current density and lagoon specifications would be ignored) would be to have the buildings knocked down.
Knock the buildings and then get the permits. The grandfathering allows the Seashell Restaurant to get rebuilt with no parking criteria. At least the "grandfather" aspect is appropriately named being 25 years after Iniki. Should be called great-grandfather clause.
The insurance hassle was over years ago. The tear down with asbestos and other debris will be challenging.
But what ever any does do, do not do a Google search on Chad Waters from California. The search may enlighten some.
We love Mr Rivera and Elvis. Larry still plays, but Elvis left the building long ago.
“Man, I really like Vegas.”................ Elvis Presley

Dawson said...

4:05PM wrote:
If tourism goes-then what?

Wrong question. It's "If tourism stays, then what?"

(Hint: uncontrolled and unregulated tourism is unsustainable. It takes over and eventually destroys the very scenic, lifestyle, cultural and spiritual qualities that attracted the tourists in the first place.)

Anonymous said...

That's not what happened in Paris... @1:20 or Miami or Amsterdam ... Tourism can be awesome for the residents if done properly.

Anonymous said...

Always thought the best honor to give the aina at Coco Palms was for a Hawaiian cultural center for all to enjoy

Anonymous said...


At who's expense?

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but it looks like the County has finally paid out the last of claims on the Bynum BS suit. Ms Miyake's lawyer fees were finally paid. After all is said and done, A Council man breaks the law, a Prosecutor crosses a fine line and everyone tries to dump on Ms Miyake.
Bynum is an embarrassment and the County is well off, being rid of this Pencil throwing tantrum prone, lying sack of questionable fluid.

Joan Conrow said...

Ms. Miyake is certainly not blameless in this! She exercised extremely poor judgment in a job for which she was never qualified.

Anonymous said...

Trespassing inspectors ignore their lawyers and find a rice cooker.
Ms. Miyake is lucky the have Mr. Dahilig's GRACE.
She should be forever grateful to that guy for keeping her job.

Someone who knows better said...

The Plantation Cottages is an awesome resort, put together with real homes from plantation workers. The owners still let the descendants of those workers to come and enjoy reunions for free at those plantation homes. The resort really has a feel of old Hawaii, is not cheap, and most certainly conforms to most, if not all, current density, parking and flood-zone laws. Which brings me to this: the drive behind obtaining the Iniki Ordinance extension has nothing to do with bringing an old local favorite back to life. What is really appealing to developers is that the Iniki Ordinance would allow them to pretty much break most current development laws, including density, flooding and traffic mitigation. In addition, they don't need to (and won't) follow many crucial recommendations by experts hired by the county to mitigate many of those problems. The rebuilding of Coco Palms the way it was back in the day, well into the 21st century is spelled D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.

Someone who knows better said...

Btw, if we ever met, I'd love to describe to you the many castles and royal homes and palaces I've been to in both sides of the Atlantic, in Southeast Asia, and even in Hawaii. They were magnificent, some of them were more than 1,000 years old.

Someone who knows better said...

Manuahi, I agree with your comments about insurance companies. The story here, though, is that the South Koreans (maybe they were from Singapore, memory is failing here) who owned the hotel before Iniki let it rot without putting a dime on it since they bought it in the 1980s. When the hurricane hit, it striked a run-down resort, but the South Koreans sought top pay from the insurance company. A long legal fight ensued, and when a settlement was reached, the owners showed their true colors (once again) by pocketing the money and running away, without ever wanting to rebuild he hotel. The hurricane didn't cause the hotel to be non-rebuildable, what did this was arson, vandalism and reckless disregard for the property.

Dawson said...

6:51AM wrote:
That's not what happened in Paris... @1:20 or Miami or Amsterdam ... Tourism can be awesome for the residents if done properly.

That's a bad comparison. Paris, Miami and Amsterdam have tourism, but their economies are not tourism driven-and-dominated like Kauai's. They haven't signed away their economic future to the Devil's Bargain of Tourism as Kauai as done.

Data from Wikipedia:
- The Parisian economy includes a mix of high-value-added service industries (finance, IT) and high tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace). The region is an important manufacturing center for aeronautics, automobiles and "eco" industries.
- Amsterdam is the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centers in Europe. Many large corporations and banks have their headquarters there.
- Miami is a major center of finance, commerce, media, entertainment, the arts and international trade. (According to a 2009 UBS study of 73 world cities, Miami was ranked as the richest city in the United States, and the world's fifth-richest city in terms of purchasing power.)

So far as tourism being "awesome for the residents if done properly" -- awesome for which residents? Are you seriously suggesting that Kauai's tourism is "done properly?"

Anonymous said...

Tim Bynum was targeted for retaliation so don't fricking hide that about the lawsuit. Miyake and PA Iseri Carvalho conspired to lie under oath and was taped by 1st Deputy PA Delaplane. Shayme and Miyake should have faced criminal collusion charges.

Shayme and her goons thought that they were untouchables and could get away with anything.

Justice is Served.

If Tim wasn't targeted then the lawsuit wouldn't have been made to be paid.

Anonymous said...

As an elected "representative" of the people and holding the public trust, they were right to target him as he more than most should follow the law as he sits on the council that makes the laws. His corruption is more egregious than the general public who hold no such trust and take no such oaths to uphold the law. Bynum was a crook.

Someone who knows better said...

If Bynum was breaking any laws he would've been convicted. Instead, the judge dismissed the case and gave Shaylene a public scolding. Bynum lost a lot of money because of that frivolous prosecution, so he sued for a couple hundred thousand, which was within the scope of his losses. But Mel Rapozo and his parrots kept voting down a settlement, and pumped a million dollars into a losing legal battle, which was eventually styled for what Bynum originally sought, and five times less than what the county spent on legal fees. Mel and his parrots said it was a matter of principle. It was actually a matter of mishandling public money, using it for political gains. When the table was reversed and Shaylene was being prosecuted for using public POHAKU money to boost her political campaign, Mel and his parrots threw their "matter of principle" out the windown. Shaylene cost us another million bucks in legal battles because she mishandled a few thousand dollars of public money -- and Mel backed her up all the way to her political grave.

Manuahi said...

"the judge dismissed the case" on a technicality because the Prosecutor screwed up...NOT because Bynum was innocent of operating an illegal rental. Get informed, Someone who doesn't know squat.

Someone who knows better — than you said...

You're wrong. Having a rice cooker was never illegal. The case actually prompted the planning department to create a new rule defining what the heck is a kitchen. Bynum did absolutely nothing illegal. Shaylene and her toys and vassals, yes, they trespassed on Bynum's property and shot themselves on the foot with the infamous backpack tape recorder.