HONOLULU — More than 1,200 years after the destruction of Hawaii’s main island by a huge earthquake, the islands are slowly recovering.
Hawaii has the highest percentage of native people in the U.S. at about 10%, but the state has had a tumultuous history of economic decline.
Hawaiian officials say that with the right economic development strategies, Hawaii’s islands could have a brighter future in the future.
A group of local business owners are taking a stab at that hope.
Hilton Maui Resort & Spa, a hotel chain based in Honolulu, recently hired an outside consulting firm to help plan and execute a $5 million redevelopment of the island.
The plan is to build a casino, which is expected to be complete by 2025.
This would be the second casino on Maui after the casino was opened in 2007.
It will be the third on the island after a casino opened in the 1940s, when a volcano erupted and killed at least 100 people.
Another casino, Hawaii Kai, opened in 2021.
“Maui is a place where you have to work hard to succeed, and this is the way to do that,” said Greg Gorman, the owner of Hawaiian Kai.
While the resort’s project is still in its infancy, the idea of a casino in the islands was brought up by local business owner Chris Keala at a community meeting earlier this month.
I really think it’s an important part of our future.
Theres no reason why we can’t bring a casino to Hawaii,” he said.
There have been two casinos on the islands before.
In 1971, Maui County sold the resort to the Waikiki Resort & Casino, which built the casino on the shores of the Kona coast.
That property was owned by the county and used for a golf course and shopping center.
Later that year, in 1983, the county sold the property to the Hyatt Hotel Group, which sold the casino to the Marriott Hotel & Resort, which opened a hotel in the new casino in 2021 and is now the city’s largest hotel chain.
And in 2012, the Honolulu Civic Association sold the island’s most famous landmark, the Kahala Castle, to the Honolulu Trust Corporation for $100 million.
Despite the challenges, Hawaiian Kai and Hawaii Kai are both on track to finish their projects.
On Maui, the casino is scheduled to open in 2019, and the Hyatts is due to open the casino in 2022.
With the help of the Waipio Group, the resort is planning to build an amphitheater for the Kaena Day Parade in 2019.
Some other changes coming to the islands include a planned overhaul of the public library, which could see its contents expand to include Hawaiian language books and other materials.
Also on Mauai, the city is working on plans to create a large new convention center.