|By Allison Schaefers, The Honolulu
Star-AdvertiserMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 28, 2012--An unidentified buyer has expressed interest in the Coco Palms Resort, once the playground of celebrities and the filming site for "Blue Hawaii" starring Elvis Presley before Hurricane Iniki shuttered it in 1992.
"We've got some people interested, but there are a lot of things that need to be completed prior to this project going into escrow," said buyer's representative Patrick Duddy, who is a partner in Maxum Construction of Hawaii. "We need to make an intelligent decision."
Duddy, who declined to identify the buyer, said "a lot of hurdles" must be cleared before a deal could be reached. For now the future of the circa-1953 resort and its lush grove of coconut palms, which dates back to 1893, remains uncertain.
"A lot of things have to happen. We are trying diligently to get the deal done," he said, adding that his buyer has met with Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to discuss aspects of a possible sale.
Former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, who is now a Realtor and a consultant working on the Coco Palms redevelopment, said she would like to see an agreement reached promptly.
While Duddy, Kusaka and others are optimistic that hotel may get a fresh start, similar opportunities have stalled in the past.
"Obviously everyone is hoping for the best, but this is about the fourth developer that has come in since the resort closed," said George Costa, Kauai's economic director.
Annapolis, Md.-based Petrie Ross Ventures has owned the resort since 2006. The company, which paid $12.3 million for the hotel, had plans to transform the decaying Coco Palms into a resort with 200 condominiums and 28 hotel rooms with two restaurants and a banquet and conference center. However, plans were shelved in 2007, when Kauai's tourism and real estate market slowed. The company's development entitlements for Coco Palms expire next year.
If this latest developer pans out, Costa said it would bring economic benefit to Kauai, especially to the east side.
"It would create a lot of jobs," said Costa, who worked for Coco Palms from 1976 to 1988.
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