Holiday Inn faces hurdles


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

A Seattle-based developer is seeking to build the Big Island’s first Holiday Inn Express in Kailua-Kona.

But it first must lower construction costs and reach an agreement with a neighbor for a road easement, said Han Kim, principal of Hotel Concepts, Inc.

The 75-room hotel would be built at 75-146 Sarona Road on the ocean side of Kuakini Highway.

Kim said HCI was aiming to open the hotel, which he described as an affordable option for frugal Hawaii residents and tourists, in early 2013.

“I don’t think that is going to happen at this point,” he said.

Kim said the company still needs to reach an agreement for a road easement over a neighbor’s property before Hawaii County can grant it a permit to begin construction.

He could not give another estimate for opening, noting that construction will take 12 to 14 months once a permit has been granted. Kim said he is hopeful the company will receive a permit in the next 45 days.

County Planner Keola Childs said HCI must widen the road to two lanes to build the hotel. For that to be done, it must acquire a narrow five-foot-wide strip of land.

Kim said construction is estimated at $10 million.

“The price, that’s too high,” he said. “We can’t make that work.”

Kim said the previous owner, which he referred to as a California-based developer, also tried to build a Holiday Inn Express at the location but had to cancel its plans due to high construction costs.

HCI is not giving up yet, he said, adding that it hopes that hiring workers directly rather than going through a contractor will lower the pricetag.

The company would also like to open another Holiday Inn Express in Hilo if this venture is successful.

“If we can make this work in Kona, we would love to make this work in Hilo,” Kim said.

HCI acquired the 1.5 acre-property for about $1.15 million over two years ago, he said.

The property includes a burial site on its southwest corner.

Childs said the building permit would require that area to be fenced off.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.