Old Keauhou Beach Hotel coming down

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KAILUA-KONA — The old Keauhou Beach Hotel, a dominant structure fronting Kahaluu Bay, will soon be a sight of the past.

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KAILUA-KONA — The old Keauhou Beach Hotel, a dominant structure fronting Kahaluu Bay, will soon be a sight of the past.

Kamehameha Schools owns the property and has been engaged in soft demolition — gutting all the wood, glass and drywall from the interior of the building — since May. That process ended in late September, leaving only the hotel’s framework standing.

The demolition of the hotel’s exterior will begin in early November and won’t be completed until late next year, West Hawaii regional director of Kamehameha Schools Kaimana Barcarse said Wednesday.

The protracted timeline is due mostly to the manner in which the organization will dismantle the building, passing on explosives or a wrecking ball in favor of a more delicate approach.

“(Construction crews) will use one of those excavators with the big claw bucket at the end. It’s almost going to be munching it from top to bottom,” Barcarse explained. “It’s going to take about a year to complete because we’re doing it this way … but it’s about doing it the right way.”

The total cost of demolition is projected at $11.5 million, which Barcarse said factored in a more deliberate demolition process.

Demolishing the structure one bite at a time should cut down on noise and dust pollution. Crews will be on hand to monitor both, watering down the site as the process progresses.

The concrete will be processed on site, the rebar removed and the material broken into smaller pieces, which will then be recycled for the purposes of pavement and re-grading the land once demolition is complete.

“We’re going to try and be as environmentally conscious as we can,” Barcarse said. “Our goal is to keep as much of it as possible out of the landfill.”

Netting and other debris traps will be employed over the lagoon to protect the water from pollution as the building is systematically dismantled.

Barcarse said there may be some impacts to traffic flow on the southern end of Alii Drive, but that will be contained mostly to brief periods of time when crews are moving large machinery in and out of the site.

“We really want to ask the public for their patience as we transform this place into a cultural and educational site,” Barcarse said.

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The name of the new learning center replacing the hotel will be Kahaluu Ma Kai. It will serve as tribute to traditional Hawaiian values by way of experiential learning that Kamehameha Schools hopes will connect past to present and the Hawaiian people to the aina.

“I always have that phrase in mind ‘No child left inside,’” said Barcarse, adding there will be educational value for adults there, as well. “Historically, it was an intellectual training ground for our leaders. It will again be a gathering place … a place of identity and culture.”