Hilton sues over shuttered tower

[ Kalia Tower ]Hilton Hotels Corp. filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court yesterday against more than a dozen contractors involved in the design and construction of the $96-million, 453-room Kalia Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. The tower, which opened in May 2001, was shut down last July after a major mold infestation was discovered and health concerns prompted hotel owners to close it to guests.

Hilton’s suit — filed early yesterday afternoon — cites construction defects as the primary cause of the mold problem. In essence, Hilton claims that the tower as designed had insufficient climate controls and failed to maintain “positive pressure,” instead allowing outside air in. Defendants range from the tower’s primary architects, Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, to the company that installed sliding glass doors for each room.

The parties named in the suit are:

An emergency refit of the tower’s ventilation and air conditioning systems is underway, to the tune of over $50 million. Hilton officials hope to reopen Kalia Tower as early as July, but possibly as late as September.

The commercial space in the lower floors of the tower have remained open, and house a number of businesses and executive meeting facilities.

The 355,676-square-foot Kalia Tower was the sixth tower to be built at Hilton Hawaiian Village, standing on the former site of the Kaiser Dome where Don Ho performed for decades. Touted as Waikiki’s first all-steel framed hotel tower, its opening had boosted the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s total capacity to 2,998 rooms, making it the largest of Hilton’s 1,800 properties around the world.

The tower won a Hoowehiwehi Nui Award from the Waikiki Improvement Association, and a Kukulu Hale award from the Hawaii chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

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