'Demolition is a Dirty Business'
What will happen when the Kapalua Bay Hotel comes down?
September 29, 2005
The Maui Land & Pineapple Company is famous for building luxurious villas, golf courses and resorts. Now they're going to be famous for something completely different: massive demolition.
On Sept. 13, 2005, the Maui County Planning Commission approved the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Residences at Kapalua Bay and Super Spa. The project calls for a complete destruction of the Kapalua Bay Hotel, as well as its nearby retail shops, parking structure and tennis courts.
Built way back in 1978, the hotel is considered substandard in the world of modern mega-luxury resorts. The 194-room hotel and connected shops will be replaced with 11 buildings containing 90 two- or three-bedroom condominiums, each selling for $3.5 million to $4 million.
There will also be 65 similar units that would be sold under a one-twelfth fractional ownership plan (similar to timeshares, but the buyers will not have any ownership in real property), estimated to sell for $340,000-$500,000 per fractional interval. This development, including the restaurant and Super Spa, will not be open to the public unless invited by a resident or guest.
Any environmental problems that might stem from the demolition required to build all that luxury are unknown. That's because analysis of the proposed destruction of the Kapalua Bay Hotel takes up a miniscule portion of the overall project EIS.
"Demolition is a dirty business," says Napili resident Richard Cochrane. As the former operations director for the Radisson's Resort Division, Cochrane oversaw two hotel demolitions, one in Bermuda and one in the Canary Islands.
"A demolition project of this magnitude, especially on an island, requires careful consideration," he says. "Unless there's a system of controls in place, the community is in great danger to get stuck with the long-term consequences of these projects. There's only so much room on an island."
Cochrane suggests Maui officials look to Bermuda as a model for dealing with garbage.
"Bermuda is the cleanest, most sensibly managed island in the world," he says. Having to deal with their strict controls during the Radisson hotel demolitions, Cochrane says they are extremely tough on developers. In fact, everything torn down must go on barges and get shipped off island. Basically, everything brought on island—like cars, appliances and furniture—must have a corresponding piece shipped off.
While hard on developers, residents love it. Cochrane says you will not see an abandoned car or appliance on Bermuda.
Cochrane wonders why Maui County doesn't have strict county codes in place to appropriately direct developers in how to deal with this waste. "We need to come to terms with this waste," he says. He doesn't believe it should be left up to the good graces of the developer.
Kapalua's close to turning loose the bulldozers, but they're not quite there. In fact, the Planning Commission will take up the project again this fall to deal with a Special Management Area (SMA) permit application. The SMA evaluation considers impacts to the environment, historic and cultural resources, drainage and impervious surface cover, public views of the ocean, public access to beaches and shoreline and the cumulative impacts of development.
Surprisingly, the county Planning Commission breezed through the Sept. 13, 2005 EIS hearing. In fact, just two Commissioners raised concerns, and none of them dealt with demolition. Dr. Diane Shepherd wondered about the diversion of water from the Honokohau Stream and Dr. William Iaconetti asked why affordable housing was not a condition of the project, which stands to bring in something like $700 million.
"The key to successful, responsible planning is studying the cumulative impacts of all proposed developments, not merely project by project," says Maui County Environmental Coordinator Rob Parsons. "I'm amazed that in a phone-book thick EIS, there are only three pages discussing the demolition. The few details that are provided look like a lot of wishful thinking. This project and future demolition projects need to have full and transparent disclosure of the impacts to the residents and infrastructure of Maui County."
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