Pagoda hotel in Hilo to close immediately
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Pagoda hotel in Hilo to close immediately

  • TIM WRIGHT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER / 2016

    Hawaii County inspectors recommended that Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel, since renamed the Pagoda Hilo Bay, “be vacated immediately,” the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a release today.

The former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel will be closed sooner than expected after Hawaii County inspectors recommended that the hotel “be vacated immediately,” state officials said today.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release that they are working with the hotel manager “to take steps now to find alternate accommodations for any occupants over the weekend and close the hotel.”

Time and neglect have caught up with one of Hilo’s oldest hotels. Developer Peter Savio took over the property and renamed it the Pagoda Hilo Bay Hotel last year. It was slated to close by July 14 because of health and safety concerns.

DLNR, which owns the land under the hotel fronting Hilo Bay on Banyan Drive, was contemplating giving Savio a three-year lease to keep the site from being abandoned until a master redevelopment plan could be created.

But Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim and some Board of Land and Natural Resources members who visited the hotel urged a shutdown.

Savio previously admitted that parts of the hotel, including one wing, the lobby and restaurant, were a “disaster,” but he did not believe guests or employees were in danger. He agreed that the hotel should be closed, however, and said he should be able to do so by July 14.

The DLNR did not specify why vacating the hotel immediately was recommended.

“DLNR appreciates permittee Peter Savio for his commitment to the hotel, its employees and guests,” the state agency said. “DLNR continues working toward the revitalization of Banyan Drive with the county, the legislature, and the private sector.”

William J. “Uncle Billy” Kimi Jr. opened the hotel in 1966. An analysis of its condition commissioned by DLNR by Erskine Architects Inc. a year ago identified unsafe stairwells, fire safety issues and advanced termite damage.

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Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporters Andrew Gomes and William Cole contributed to this report.

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