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Coco Palms developers undeterred by July 4 fire

  • Mike Laureta / Special to the Star-AdvertiserFirefighters from the Kala­heo station joined the effort to extinguish the Coco Palms Resort fire Friday.
    Mike Laureta / Special to the Star-Advertiser
    Firefighters from the Kala­heo station joined the effort to extinguish the Coco Palms Resort fire Friday.

LIHUE >> Developers trying to rebuild an iconic Kauai resort ravaged by a hurricane say they’re moving forward after the Coco Palms suffered another disaster: An Independence Day fire.

Last week’s blaze destroyed the main lobby and badly burned the breezeway of a connecting building. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“This is maybe a little speed bump, but we’re still very focused on getting Coco Palms opened and moving forward,” said Tyler Greene, principal of Coco Palms Hui, LLC.

Developers have been trying to raise money to revitalize the historic hotel made famous by Elvis Presley. Hurricane Iniki destroyed the resort in 1992. It’s the only major hotel that never reopened after the storm.

The Garden Island reports it’s not clear how the fire impacts restoration efforts, including preserving a portion of the lobby. A signature piece — a large conch shell that hung near the dining room — was destroyed in the fire.

“We’ll still bring back some of the same design elements that we were planning prior to the fire, and based upon the Hurricane Iniki ordinance, there’s really nothing that’s changing here, since it’ll use the same (building) footprint,” Greene said.

Plans to file building permits for the hotel by the last quarter of the year are still on track, Greene said.

He recently told Kauai County Council members rebuilding Coco Palms will cost about $125 million. Developers are seeking federal approval to take advantage of a program that provides green cards to foreign nationals who stimulate economic growth by investing in new commercial enterprises.

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