Starwood Turtle Bay acquisition imminent
Activists fear it will lock in redevelopment plans for the resort
Starwood Hotels & Resorts this week expects to acquire a portion of the Turtle Bay Resort, worrying community activists who fear the purchase could mean that revived expansion plans on Oahu's North Shore are moving forward.
The Defend Oahu Coalition, which said it has more than 1,000 members, held a news conference yesterday to voice their concerns about the impending sale.
The group says that the community has been left out of planning discussions and fears the sale could mean construction of up to 3,500 hotel and condominium units is imminent.
Kuilima Resort Co., the entity that has owned Turtle Bay since 1988, early last year decided to revive 20-year-old plans to build up to five hotels in one of Oahu's last remaining rural communities.
"It's not so much that we want to stop the sale," said Bob Nakata, one of 15 coalition board members. "It's more that we want to be sure that it's not at the point where they can construct. Once they're vested, stopping the development itself would be almost impossible."
Keith Vieira, director of Hawaii operations for Starwood, declined to comment until the sale is finalized.
Opponents believe new development will likely disturb undiscovered Native Hawaiian burial sites, an opinion shared by the State Historic Preservation Division, which last October recommended that developers revise their master plan to avoid possible burial areas.
The group also is concerned about highway congestion, affordable housing and keeping the North Shore rural, said Carol Philips, the coalition's chairwoman.
"We're not trying to make them fall out of escrow per se," she said. "We really want to make sure whoever buys it is going to address our concerns. Our concern is that no more permits be issued until those concerns are addressed."
The city Department of Planning and Permitting hasn't issued infrastructure permits for the development, according to director Henry Eng. The city granted tentative approval of Kuilima's subdivision application in September, giving the developer a year to submit plans for review.
"We don't have the construction drawings yet," Eng said.