Inspection prompts early shutdown of Hilo hotel

Photo: County of Hawaii

A longtime Hilo hotel is shutting down sooner than expected.

The Pagoda Hilo Bay Hotel, formerly known as Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel, is closing for good this Monday, June 19.

The hotel has been a fixture on Hawaii island for decades, and was supposed to have remained open through the end of the month.

But state and county officials say the building is rundown and potentially unsafe, and Hawaii County inspectors issued a new recommendation to the landowner, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“They gave us the report of some of the potential violations of building code, and it’s kind of hard to tell without reading the report in detail. Some of them are conditions that really you just want to make sure people are safe,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case. “We hadn’t had a report before, and they took a look at it, and their recommendation was to go ahead and vacate the building so we’re doing that now.”

The hotel is arranging alternate accommodations for those scheduled to stay through the weekend.

Roughly 50 rooms were already closed because of leaks and other plumbing issues.

The closure is affecting jobs for 15 to 20 people, but a nearby hotel has already offered to hire them.

As for the property’s future, Case said, “We’re trying to working cooperatively with the county and the state legislators and the community in coming up with a design for the revitalization of Banyan Drive into which we can apply the state land and the public resources that will make it a brighter future for them.”

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