Who won and who lost on January 24th? On the surface, as is way too often the case – the developers won. But scratch just a tiny bit and you’ll see their victory was a hollow one. They stepped in it actually. They stepped in it big time.
The Kauai Planning Commission meeting held on this day pulled back that increasingly soiled curtain that attempts to hide from public view the ongoing duplicity that has come to define 30 years of dealmaking and the Coco Palms Hotel.
Reef Capital Partners, a Utah-based real estate investment company also known as RP21 Coco Palms LLC were the folks sitting at the table. Their voices were dripping with sincerity – as they once again looked the Planning Commission in the eye and said “trust me”.
They had held none of the community meetings previously promised, yet they promised once again to host such meetings in the future.
They had not demolished a very large building that sits only a few feet from the soon-to-be 4-lane Kuhio highway. Previously the owners/developers had told the Commission they were going to tear this structure down “within 6 months”. Now they are saying they have no plans to do so.
Their representative spoke openly about the intent to delay the start of construction further.
They denied the property had been sold or was in escrow. Yet at the August Planning Commission meeting, they indicated there was a buyer/developer waiting in the wings. I and others spoke directly to the prospective buyers in November who indicated they had the property in escrow.
The Garden Island reported, “Utah-based real estate investment firm Reef Capital Partners announced it had axed plans to sell the property and intend to go forward with the development themselves.”
According to the online news site, KauaiNow, Reef Capital’s Managing Director of Private Equity Patrick Manning said when speaking to reporters, “Reef Capital would be ‘happy to sell’ – if the price is right.”
Their claim to have “axed plans to sell…and go forward with the development themselves” is disingenuous at best.
These guys are dealmakers. This is what they do. They cut deals to make money and say whatever they need to make that happen. You can bet at this very moment they are frantically searching for some other anonymous LLC, to take this albatross off from around their necks.
Today it’s Utah-based RP21 Coco Palms LLC, or depending on who is before the Planning Commission at the moment, it might be their parent Reef Capital Partners or Reef’s subsidiary Stillwater Equity Partners. Stillwater Equity Partners took over management of the project from Coco Palms Hui LLC (Green and Waters), and before that, it was Coco Palms Ventures LLC, California-based Wailua Associates, Chinese owned “Park Lane Hotels International”, Prudential Insurance, AMFAC, and Island Holidays.
In 1898 it was the Territory of Hawaii, and in 1824 it was the home of Queen Debora Ha‘akulou Kapule.
It’s time now for the community to step up, and the dealmakers to step down. It’s time also for our County government to call out the shibai and require these owners to follow the same rules everyone else has to follow – not those rules of 30 years ago nor the ones the owners seem to be making up as they go along.
We need the County to step up to hold the owners accountable.
And we need a philanthropic angel to step forward and help fulfill the community vision of cultural preservation and restoration.
There’s lots of talk about all the billionaires who live here. Billionaires who love this place like we do, billionaires who care about our community like we do, and billionaires who want to do the right thing.
My question today is, “When will they step up?”
Here are 4 ways YOU can help make our community vision a reality.
(above first published 02/01/23 in The Garden Island)
*Here is one more reason the permits should be revoked. File this under “can’t make this stuff up”.
First of all I like to honor the Hawaiian sacred land and give them there native village back! It would be a echo asset to our island to see how they lived before foreigners came! What a special gift at humanity!Absolutely also built a cultural and music area! Terraced garden! And please tire down that building rioting o the road! This island we all know is Paradise then we should treat it as it is for all to enjoy! Aloha