Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto, aged 79, is making headlines yet again, and causing quite a stir on Oahu, particularly in the prestigious luxury home neighborhood of Kahala on Oahu. Kawamoto is known to be a little eccentric, bizarre even, and is not favored by many Kahala residents. Kawamoto has been the subject of a lot of negative media coverage over the years with communities and neighborhood boards registering complaints and even individual lawsuits against the real estate tycoon.
Kawamoto first hit the Hawaii real estate scene in the late 80's during what is known as the "Japanese bubble." At this time, the US dollar was down and many foreign investors, especially the Japanese, were buying up high-end luxury Oahu real estate in a frenzy. Kawamoto aquired many properties in the period 2002-2006, and now owns more than 20 luxury homes on Kahala Avenue, most purchased for between $2 and $10 million. Kawamoto went on to purchase, in September 2010, an impressive acre and a half beachfront estate at 4653 Kahala Avenue with a price tag of $22 Million. He had already brought the property next door and also another just down the road. In 2010, he also put several of his Kahala homes for sale on the market. Currently, only one of his Kahala luxury homes is listed, 4767 Kahala Avenue, for $3,200,000. Kawamoto is said to own approximately 200 single family homes and condominiums in Hawaii.
You may recall, Kawamoto was frequently in the news in 2007 when Kawamoto announced that he would provide low income Hawaiian families with the opportunity to live in five of the luxury Kahala homes that he owns on Kahala Avenue. Ultimately, he moved three local families into these Kahala Avenue homes, for very low ($150/mo) or no rent, with a 10 year lease. He tore down fences on these homes to enhance the sense of community and filled in swimming pools to make the homes safer for children. All this was supposedly part of his plan called the "Kahala Avenue Mission." Kawamoto has said that he wanted to bring more people to Kahala Avenue and that he wanted more native Hawaiian families to visit the area, to make Kahala "more fun." The rest of his homes appear to have remained vacant and many have fallen into disrepair and were graffitti-ed, which has angered his neighbors in this multi-million dollar luxury neighborhood of Kahala.
Now, apparently, the next phase of Kawamoto's "Kahala Avenue Mission" is to turn clusters of his properties into a statue garden, Japanese tea house and a museum to hold a European Art collection. Again, his plans are causing great upset with the Kahala neighborhood board who oppose his plan and are again accusing Kawamoto of disrupting the community. In August 2010, Kawamoto was interviewed by Hawaii media and stated he would be making improvements to many of his properties and asked for the community to "wait a little longer, there will be more improvements." I wonder what else is in store??
Kahala Beach. Picture Courtesy of HiCentral MLS.
One of Kawamoto's luxury homes in Kahala. Picture Courtesy of HiCentral MLS.