It’s back to the drawing board for developers of Hawaii Island’s first Holiday Inn, after a County Council committee Thursday balked at their plans to construct signs ranging up to almost four times those allowed by the county sign ordinance.
The Committee on Public Works &Parks and Recreation advised developers to consult with the Kailua Village Design Commission and come back at a future meeting with plans for smaller signs.
The Seattle-based owners, Kona Hospitality LLC, Han Gyu Kim and Mihyung Kim, proposed to erect three signs: a 43-square-foot, 32-square-foot and an 18-square foot one, two of which would front Sarona Road and one on Kuakini Highway. They wanted to put one on a pedestal.
Han Gyu Kim told the committee that the franchise agreement with Intercontinental Hotel Groups mandates the number and size of signs. He also questioned whether travelers would be able to find the new Holiday Inn Express &Suites if the signs are more subdued. The company is seeking a variance from the ordinance.
“The location is very tucked away from the major roads,” he said. “We have a serious apprehension about whether the travelers would see it.”
The county sign ordinance allows one sign per business or street frontage. The maximum sign size is 12 square feet, with lettering and symbols no larger than 9 inches.
The Kailua Village Design Commission at its May 6 meeting had voted to reject the sign plans and recommended wall signs only, with a maximum of 18 square feet, said Acting Chairman Adam Broderson in a May 13 letter to Public Works Director Warren Lee. The Sarona Road sign should also be lowered to the second-floor level to reduce unnecessary light projection beyond the the necessary street exposures, he said.
“While not a sign variance application matter, the commission also requested the applicant to cause the landowner/hotel operator to remove or reconstruct the existing cinder-block enclosure fronting Sarona Road out of lava rock to blend with other walls in the community,” Broderson said in the letter.
South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford characterized the proposed signs as “massive.”
“What we don’t want in our village is to look like some of the super stores in our area that don’t even look like they belong in Hawaii,” Ford said.
“We really need to have standards,” said Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille.
Several other council members expressed similar reluctance and opted to postpone the issue until a compromise can be reached.
The three-story, 75-suite Holiday Inn Express &Suites is expected to be completed by fall. Construction of the L-shaped building on the 1.3-acre lot is estimated to cost $10 million.
The owners selected a contemporary motif to decorate the hotel, with squared-off couches and dark desks and dressers. Each room is a suite, with a couch in addition to a bed, as well as small wet bars. The rooms also have a data port, with areas to plug in USB chargers and other electronic devices.
An archway will greet patrons on Sarona Road, leading to an open lobby that extends into a breakfast bar area overlooking the small pool. In the middle of the lobby is a two-sided fireplace, which will be flanked by decorative iron grills.
Council members also delayed a variance request from Scanlan Management LLC for three signs at the Jack in the Box location on Henry Street. The postponement came after no representative from the management company, the county or the Kailua Village Design Commission was available to answer questions.