Banyan Drive hotel could change hands again

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The former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel could again be up for grabs.

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The former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel could again be up for grabs.

The state Land Board will consider today whether to auction the land lease for the Banyan Drive property at a later date. The business is now known as Pagoda Hilo Bay Hotel, which operates under a month-to-month revocable permit.

State Department of Land and Natural Resources staff are recommending a new three-year lease be auctioned while at the same time issuing a “request for interest” regarding a new long-term lease.

Ed Bushor, owner of Tower Development, a managing partner of the adjacent Grand Naniloa Hotel, already has a plan in mind for a new hotel and long-term lease.

He said he wants to build a new 100- to 125-room budget hotel at the site and has a letter of support from Hilton. The Naniloa also is a DoubleTree by Hilton brand hotel.

“I believe we should support all customers,” Bushor said. “We’re convinced that without a doubt there’s a need for a limited-serve hotel there.”

Peter Savio, who took over the hotel in February 2016 from the original owners, said Thursday he wasn’t sure if he would pursue a new lease, though he would consider it. He said he acquired the business to help keep the hotel open but plans to build his own hotel on the shore of Waiakea Pond.

“I stepped in for a couple years to help,” he said.

In 2014, DLNR estimated the aging hotel had five to 10 years of useful life left.

Brian De Lima, chairman of Hawaii County’s Banyan Drive redevelopment board, said he welcomes any new investment in the area. The group is tasked with guiding planning for future development on the Waiakea Peninsula.

“It fits in our plan,” he said, regarding a new hotel there. “… The bottom line is any investment in our community is a good thing.”

Bushor didn’t mention how much the new hotel would cost, assuming he gets a lease, or where funding would come from.

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The Naniloa is owned by WHR LLC. Businessman Ed Olson said he is the biggest financier of that company. He couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

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

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