KAILUA-KONA — The Keauhou Beach Hotel is literally a shell of its former self — the soft demolition completed and the inside of the structure gutted.
Now, the shell itself is disappearing as part of the project’s next phase.
Kamehameha Schools hit a project milestone Thursday in the deconstruction of the longtime architectural fixture on Alii Drive when general contractor, Kiewit, broke out the high-reach excavator and began gradually dismantling the building’s skeleton piece by piece in concentrated and considered fashion.
The excavator started with the mauka portion of the hotel, taking bites out of the structure from the top down as an apparatus sprayed water across the site.
Kamehameha Schools chose to demolish the hotel in this fashion rather than utilizing explosives or a wrecking ball in order to curb noise and dust pollution in the area, despite that choice requiring more money and time to complete.
“It’s about doing it the right way,” Kaimana Barcarse, West Hawaii regional director of Kamehameha Schools, told West Hawaii Today during an interview in October.
Crystal Kua, senior communications specialist with Kamehameha Schools, urged public caution Thursday, as the area is under active construction. For their own safety, people should not enter the project site, she said.
“We had, on one or two occasions, swimmers straying too close, and so we again ask all water enthusiasts participating in water activities makai of the project to steer clear of the construction site,” Kua wrote in an email to West Hawaii Today.
Construction crews began hard demolition of the hotel in early November. Officials said then the project would take roughly one year to complete.
Kamehameha Schools will replacing the hotel with Kahaluu Ma Kai, a new learning center offering experiential learning and meant to function as a tribute to traditional Hawaiian culture.