A HISTORY OF KAUAKANIONU 

Place names are not always widely known, and that is true for the Hanalei River Ridge. We have endeavored to consult maps, literature and local knowledge to find the place name for the Hanalei River Ridge.  We believe it to be Kauakaniaunu, and propose to use this in the future.  We welcome any additional information.

1875

The ridge is an important fish-spotting site, or puʻu kilo.

The name “Kauakanionu,” along with topographical marks indicating a ridge, is scrawled on a hand-drawn map of Hanalei dated 1875. The name aligns with the northern bank of the last, half-mile stretch of Hanalei River before it empties into Hanalei Bay. A 1900 map references adjacent area slightly differently, “Kauakahiunu.”

 1892

Hanalei Pier

Late 1800's

The first, wooden Hanalei Pier is constructed near the mouth of the Hanalei River for local rice farmers to load their crops onto ships, to be exported to Honolulu and California.  A concrete version replaces it in 1912.

1912

Henry and Maude Birkmyre build an estate home on Kauakanionu ridge. Much later, the home is used as a film location in the 1952 movie Beachhead and in South Pacific in 1959. 

1961

The Hanalei Plantation Hotel opens with 50 cottages, 162 rooms, on Kauakanionu.

1969

The state Land Use Commission rezones 995 acres of Princeville ranch land from agriculture to urban for Colorado owner and developer Eagle County Development Company, dba Princeville.

Black Pot Beach Park

Late 1800's to early 1900's

1970s

Princeville gets the necessary permits from the County of Kauai for Phase I of its development and starts developing infrastructure including roads, subdivisions, and golf courses. The Princeville Project District (PD) does not include Kauakanionu.

1973

After a proposal to develop a condominium at the popular local gathering place at the Hanalei estuary provokes community outrage, Kauai County acquires the corner property at the mouth of the Hanalei River, across from Kauakanionu, and names it Black Pot Beach Park.

 Mid-1970s 

The Hanalei Plantation Hotel fails and is converted to the 153-room Club Mediterranean resort, which also fails to be economically viable.  It closes in late 1970s.

Club-med aerial view

1979 

The Club Med property is purchased by Honolulu developer Bruce Stark.

1980

Kauai County grants developer Stark SMA, Use, Project Development Use, and Class IV Zoning permits for a 90-condominium development.  Project is later revised to 60 condo units.

Mid-1980s

Stark demolishes the Hanalei Plantation/Club Med, does extensive excavation and grading, and foundation work for condo units. The project goes bankrupt before the units are built.

Before & After Perspective in terms of developmental impact:

This image shows a footprint of prior Club-med development, in comparison to the developers footprint of the 34 house lots - not including the hotel!

 

1985

Despite the 40 foot height limit, the Kauai Planning Department allows the Princeville Sheraton to stack three 40 foot buildings on the slopes of Pu’u Poa, giving the visual impression of 120 foot building on the easternmost headland of Hanalei Bay.  The community expressed bitter opposition to the visual impact. Conditions of the permit, agreed to by the developer, include extensive vegetation cover and earth tone colors to mitigate the visual impact.

1987

Kauai County revokes Stark’s SMA on account of inaction for two years. The site is abandoned, leaving behind the concrete foundations.  Brush and ironwood flourish, screening the view of the Princeville Sheraton Hotel from Hanalei.

Kaukaniaunu - Google Earth aerial view (2003)

See 2003 image versus 2009 image below. 

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2007

Ohana Hanalei, L.L.C. pays $75M for four contiguous parcels totaling 122 acres from Jeff Stone, owner of Princeville Partners. Ohana Hanalei, L.L.C. is a subsidiary of Ohana Real Estate Investment (OREI), is the real estate arm of Ohana Holdings, which is owned by Honolulu billionaire Pierre Omidyar.

2008

After $60 million in renovations, the Princeville Sheraton Hotel reemerges as the St. Regis Resort.  No attempt is made to mitigate its visual impact on Hanalei Valley through earth tone colors or vegetation or night light mitigation.  It becomes the area of highest incidental death take in all of Hanalei for the endangered wedge tail shearwater.

2012

Ohana Hanalei LLC proposes to “revitalize” the ancient, now overgrown and silted-in Kamoʻomaikaʻi fishpond, referred to on most maps as Puʻu Pōʻā Marsh, to serve as the scenic water feature for its planned 86-unit luxury resort complex, which will be financed, in part, by the revenue from the sale of 34 house lots on Kauakanionu, now being referred to as “Phase One.”

 

Kauakaniaunu - Google Earth aerial view (2009)

The developer has yet to retain any permits, posing the question to whether the clearing of trees and foliage have been done illegally since they purchased the land in 2007.