Sunday | November 19, 2017
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Commission not satisfied with West Hawaii hotel plans

KAILUA-KONA — The Kailua Village Design Commission on Tuesday deferred taking action on a proposed four-story hotel on Henry Street in Kailua-Kona after commissioners raised concerns about the building’s color scheme and topography of the area where it would be built.

The hotel would have 141 rooms and be situated on the south-makai corner of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Henry Street intersection. It would be owned by the same company that operates the Holiday Inn Express &Suites on Sarona Road.

The project’s architect, Fritz Harris-Glade, said he likely would return next month, adding Tuesday night’s meeting was a starting point to ensuring the project is one everyone can live with.

“We had to start somewhere,” he said after the meeting. “You’re not going to hit a home run your first time at bat.”

Faruq Ramzanalli, a partner in Hotel Concepts, said he took commissioners’ concerns seriously and that it’s a chance to improve the project.

“I believe commissioners are trying to enhance our project,” he said. “We intend to work with the commission and build the right building.”

Seattle-based hospitality company Hotel Concepts has properties that span several brands, including Hampton Inn &Suites, Holiday Inn and Fairfield Inn.

Negotiations as to what brand the newly proposed hotel would open under are ongoing.

One specific issue was how the 45-foot-tall hotel would look to motorists driving up and down Henry Street, which follows a downhill slope from Queen Kaahumanu Highway to Kuakini Highway. Because of the sloping roadway, the northwest corner of the property sits about 15-20 feet above the road surface.

“The traffic coming down Henry Street, it’s going to be seeing 65 feet of project in front of it,” commissioner Mark Van Pernis said.

Commission vice chairman Shaun Roth concurred, saying it’s difficult to visualize exactly how the hotel would look to motorists driving up and down the street without renderings showing as much.

Van Pernis said he wasn’t opposed to having a hotel catering to a different market than other hotels up the coast, but said the commission must consider its responsibility to the community when it comes to projects proposed for the area.

“And I’m concerned that when people drive down Henry Street, as I do and as did in regards to this project, they’re looking at 85 feet of buildings when they drive down,” he said.

He also criticized the color scheme, specifically a “barn red” used in a submitted visualization.

“That is not acceptable to me,” he said. “I prefer something that’s a natural color, compatible with nature … I’m not hung up on color, I just don’t want to see bright whites, bright reds.”

In addition to more renderings and the color scheme, commissioners asked for additional considerations to include a landscaping plan and how the hotel’s design could carry a “Kailua Village feel.”

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