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Your Views for January 8

Banyan Drive update

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources notes interest in plans for revitalization of Banyan Drive as evidenced by recent editorial pieces. As DLNR shares this interest and holds the state public lands there, this is a good opportunity to provide an update on Banyan Drive.

• The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is located on state lands under a long-term lease that recently was extended to 2068 in consideration of the lessee making substantial renovations to the hotel.

• The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, A DoubleTree by Hilton also is under long-term state ground lease that runs to 2071. The lessee has invested more than $10 million in hotel renovations in the past two years and continues this work. The golf course is a portion of the Naniloa Hotel lease premises.

• The long-term state lease for Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel expired in 2016 and the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a month-to-month revocable permit for continued hotel use pending the finalization of collaborative long-term master planning for Banyan Drive. The existing 50-year-old improvements have about two to seven years of remaining useful life at most, then the buildings will need to be torn down.

• Similarly, the long-term state lease for the Country Club Hawaii expired in 2015 and BLNR approved a month-to-month revocable permit for the same reasons. The existing improvements have two to five years of remaining useful life.

• The long-term state lease for the Reeds Bay Hotel expired in 2016 and BLNR approved a month-to-month revocable permit. The existing improvements have nine to twelve years of remaining useful life.

• For Uncle Billy’s (now Pagoda) Hilo Bay Hotel, Country Club Hawaii and eventually Reeds Bay, the existing improvements will need to be demolished before the properties can be redeveloped. There are extensive permitting requirements for demolishing structures near the shoreline within the Special Management Area. It will take several years to complete the permitting process and demolition.

• In 2015-16, DLNR conducted studies and public meetings to assist with Banyan Drive planning, including a tourism market study, a sea-level rise analysis and a master lease feasibility analysis. These studies can be viewed on the DLNR Land Division website.

DLNR has been collaborating with the previous county administration to allow the county to take the lead on establishing a redevelopment vision for Banyan Drive, integrating the state lands in the mix. We are in discussions with Mayor Harry Kim about further collaboration with the new county administration to ensure the best plan and process moving forward for a thriving and beautiful Banyan Drive in Hilo of which we can all be proud.

Suzanne D. Case

Chairperson, DLNR


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