A long-time Hilo hotel is shutting down

Photo: County of Hawaii

 

A long time Hilo hotel is shutting down.

The Pagoda Hilo Bay Hotel, formerly known as Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel, has been a fixture on the Big Island for decades but state and county officials said the building is rundown and potentially unsafe.

The hotel has been around for 60 years, but it’ll have to cease operations by July 14 when its permit with the state expires.

Worse than originally thought is how Peter Savio described the hotel’s conditions after he took ownership.

“Originally I agreed to take over Uncle Billy’s just to keep the property open to save the jobs but as we got into it, the hotel is really old. There’s a lot of defects. A lot of work needs to be done, but we have a month-to-month lease so you can’t spend the money to fix those things,” Savio said.

Savio told KHON2 they’ve had to close 40 to 50 rooms because of leaks and other plumbing issues.

“After we got into it, every time we fixed a pipe, the next pipe was broken it was really bad,” Savio said.

Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe said “It’s rundown and when you have asbestos in the ceilings and things like this, it becomes a very unsafe situation.”

On Friday the State Board of Land and Natural Resources voted to end the hotel’s permit.

In a press release, the board said its taking these steps to close this chapter out of abundance of caution.

The hotel is located on Banyan Drive, an area the state and county have been eyeing for a while.

We’re told there’s a lack of hotels on the east side of the island.

“This is a great opportunity to revitalize the Banyan Drive area, to accommodate all the tourists that are coming,” Okabe said.

The board also voted to take steps to allow getting bids from developers who might be interested in a long term lease.

“We’re trying to give them an opportunity, give them an opportunity to come in on Banyan Drive to be able to build another hotel,” Okabe said.

County officials plan to assess the hotel next week to determine the extent of the safety issues.

The hotel closure would affect jobs for about 15-20 people but a nearby hotel has already offered to hire them on.

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