HONOLULU — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says Oracle Corp. billionaire Larry Ellison is proving to be good for Lanai one year after buying most of the Hawaiian Island.
Hawaii News Now reports (http://bit.ly/1anEGJS ) Abercrombie says Ellison’s team managing the island has had a good relationship with the community.
“The positive outcome after a year, I think, is terrific. I think everybody’s very optimistic about Lanai,” Abercrombie said. “People are moving to Lanai.”
“They have exercised, I think, an enormously positive sense of collaboration and discussion and dialogue,” he said.
Ellison effectively bought the island one year ago when he bought the vast majority of Lanai’s 141 square miles from billionaire David Murdock’s Castle & Cooke Inc.
The deal included 88,000 acres of land, plus two resorts, two golf courses, a stable and various residential and commercial buildings. A final purchase price was not disclosed.
Since then, Ellison has slowly revealed his vision for Lanai through interviews and meetings with community leaders on the island of about 3,200 residents.
“I can’t think of anything that I’ve been involved with in decades, on a magnitude of this nature, that has been more pleasant and productive and cooperative than the relationship that at least we in the state have had with Mr. Ellison and his people,” Abercrombie said.
Earlier this year, Ellison unveiled plans for an airport expansion, a third hotel with 100 bungalow-style rooms and a desalination plant. His has also told community members it wants to build 50 home lots of 5 acres each near the new resort.
Robin Kaye, an activist from the group Friends of Lanai, said some residents have concerns about the plan.
“Are you going to then need stores and what about the roads? What kind of infrastructure is going to be required?” Kaye said. “It has the potential to make a massive change to what is now an untouched area.”
But Kaye says people on the island are in better spirits now that Lanai is owned by Ellison.
Ellison also bought small commuter airline Island Air in part to ensure it would keep serving Lanai. A representative for Ellison’s personal investment company said at the time that the carrier was in danger of going out of business.
Ellison said in his first public remarks about Lanai in October that he envisions the island becoming a “little laboratory” for experimenting with more environmentally sound ways to live, including converting sea water into fresh water, promoting electric cars and increasing fruit exports.
Information from: KHNL-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/