Giving Coco Palms a Second Chance

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There may be hope for Coco Palms after all. The once famous Kauai resort became the symbol of Hawaii tourism in the 1950s, attracting big names, like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Fast forward 30 years, and the resort was left in shambles after a massive hurricane ripped through the property.

It has since lost its rep as an icon of tourism, becoming a dilapidated eyesore instead. A Maryland-based developer actually bought the resort several years ago with the intention of redeveloping it, but that never happened.

Kauai County officials are now moving to revoke the permit, a county release states. Once that’s over with – possibly within the next few months – there’ll be more opportunities in store for this historic site. A local tour company continues to make stops at the site on a daily basis, and every day, the reactions by tourists are the same. They’re in shock at the shuttered state of the resort, which they remember as something grand, something of an oasis.

It’s sad to see what has become of the resort. It’s literally crumbling by the day. There’s holes in the rooftop, and the walls are caving in. It’s no doubt become a hazard to people’s safety and to the environment, so it’s about time the county step in and take action. I would love to see a museum of sorts as part of the redevelopment; maybe prior guests of Coco Palms could come back and contribute items to the exhibit.

Whoever takes over the resort must also be mindful of the site’s cultural significance. Many do not realize that before Elvis and Sinatra, this used to be the home of Kauai’s Hawaiian royalty. It’s also within close proximity to three of Kauai’s most historical heiau, or places of worship, so taking all of that into consideration will be key to the success of the redevelopment.

However, the struggle to find balance and compromise between development and cultural preservation has been a longtime saga in the islands, so it’s likely the actual redevelopment of Coco Palms won’t be happening for a while. There’ll have to be cultural and archaeological impact studies done way beforehand. Most times, unexpected discoveries put a halt to construction plans, and it takes a court decision to move forward. For Coco Palms, it could be another few decades before anything significant really happens, so we shouldn’t build up our hopes just yet.


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