By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU — One of Hawaii’s largest property owners is buying dozens of mansions in the high-end Honolulu neighborhood of Kahala from eccentric Japanese real estate investor Genshiro Kawamoto.
A subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. said Tuesday it bought 31 Kawamoto properties for about $98 million.
A&B Properties, Inc. says 27 of the parcels are located on Kahala Avenue. Many are either on the ocean or have easy access to the beach. Together they represent 16 percent of all properties on the street.
Kawamoto owns dozens of office buildings in downtown Tokyo under the name Marugen and has been buying and selling U.S. real estate in Hawaii and California since the 1980s.
In 2007, he had low-income Native Hawaiian families who were homeless or on the verge of losing their homes move into five of the Kahala homes rent-free. He said he wasn’t concerned about losing money doing so as it was “pocket money” to him.
More recently, he announced he wanted to set up an art museum on some of the parcels and had nude statues installed near the road.
He also angered neighborhood residents by allowing the properties to fall into disrepair. Weeds grew in the yards of many of the homes, facades were tagged with graffiti and renovations were left unfinished.
A&B says it will refurbish the properties.
The other parcels are two residential lots and a preservation-zoned parcel in windward Oahu, and a 146-acre agricultural-zoned parcel in Kihei on Maui.