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Japanese billionaire unpopular in Kahala

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Genshiro Kawamoto is a man some Kahala residents would rather forget.  The 76 year-old man currently owns 22 homes in Kahala, with 20 of them on prestigious Kahala Avenue.  The gripe from Kahala residents is that Mr. Kawamoto is letting his homes fall apart.

A little history about Mr. Kawamoto

Remember the Japanese bubble?  It started about 20 years ago here in Hawaii.  Affluent Japanese businessmen started buying up luxury homes in Kahala and other areas.  There were instances where homeowners heard a knock on the door, answered and were offered large sums of money for their homes.  The offers were lucrative and the owners often sold.

Mr. Kawamoto was one of those Hawaii investors.  By 1998 Mr. Kawamoto owned over 100 homes in the better neighborhoods of Oahu.  His investment peaked at somewhere around 250 homes.  Not all of the homes were luxurious, many were basic run of the mill properties.

Hawaii residents started pointing fingers at Mr. Kawamoto in particular in the late 1980's when home prices were accelerating and becoming less affordable.   Eventually he started selling off the homes.  His motive was probably in part to take the heat off and also to liquidate assets and get cash for other investments.  He had rented out his investment properties and didn't spend money maintaining them.  The homes started getting run down.

When Mr. Kawamoto listed his homes a mini-bonanza set in.  The properties were reasonably priced fixer uppers, perfect for people looking to move in a good neighborhood on a budget.  One of my friends bought a Kawamoto home for a good price.  He and his wife fixed it up, lived there awhile and then sold it at a profit, earning cash to move up to a nicer home.

In 2007, Mr. Kawamoto offered to rent three of his Kahala homes to native Hawaiian families at low rates ($150- $200 per month).  To the familes' surprise, on the day that they moved in, Mr. Kawamoto said he would not charge them rent at all.

Some people were upset that Mr. Kawamoto was discriminating in favor of native Hawaiians and filed a complaint with HUD.  HUD eventually ruled that the complaint didn't have merit since Mr. Kawamoto was not charging rent.   Mr. Kawamoto stated that the situation caused him emotional trauma and he scrapped plans to accomodate several other native Hawaiian families.  As of today the three families are still staying in the homes rent free, a year and a half later.  

 Homes on Kahala Avenue  
 A happy family resides in this Kahala home rent-free.  
 Mahalo to Genshiro Kawamoto  
 The family placed this banner in the front yard when they moved in.  
 Crumbling wall at a Kawamoto home  
 Across the street, another Kawamoto-owned home could use some work.  
 A Kahala beachfront estate in need of fixing up  
 Note the dried up grass and demolished wall.  

 

Back to 2008

Mr. Kawamoto's publicity is the result of the Kahala properties' disrepair.  Another issue is how Mr. Kawamoto prepared his homes for the native Hawaiian families.  Swimming pools were filled in with dirt and walls were torn down.  Mr. Kawamoto defended his actions, saying that the filled in pools were for safety reasons and the walls were removed to change the fortress-like character of some homes.

Kahala residents are urging the Honolulu City Council and the State of Hawaii to do something.  Apparently the disrepair is mostly cosmetic.  Our government is trying to stay out of it.

Lawsuit filed against Kawamoto

A Hawaii resident filed a lawsuit against Mr. Kawamoto for alleged injuries resulting from a fall in front of a Kawamoto home.  The woman is said to have tripped and fell over pieces of a broken wall and palm fronds on the sidewalk in front of the home.  The complaint alleges physical injuries, emotional distress and lost wages due to Mr. Kawamoto's negligence.  The attorney filing the lawsuit lives next door to one of Mr. Kawamoto's properties... 

Why is Mr. Kawamoto doing this?

Some people say that he's purposely driving down property values so that he can buy more homes in the area.  I don't know, he's in his mid 70's - wouldn't he have better things to do?  I think he's busy with other projects and just not making it a priority to take care of his Kahala homes.   For a man with his kind of money, buying a home might be compared with buying a cheap used car for us common people.

I have a message for Mr. Kawamoto -  If you feel like selling any of your homes, please give me a call.  I'll be happy to list your homes and maybe even buy one if the price is right!

Mike Bates (RA)

Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties

(808) 548-1220

Comments (11)

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judyo

I saw something on television about Hawaiians getting free rental properties but I'm not sure if they were owned by Mr. Kawamoto. This was an interesting story.

tampa4u

I was in Hawaii last year and have seen some of his homes and that famous street you talked about. Hope you get his listings.

carla

Mr. Kawamoto, It's unfortunate that the HUD complaint caused you such despair. I hope that you will reconsider and continue your efforts to help others. If you are interested in a sponsorship for a Geriatric Nurse Practitoner seeking to help elderly Hawaiians let me know. thanks

Jade Emory

Aloha Mr. Kawamoto,

My name is Jade Emory. I am a retired university instructor and psychotherapist with multiple physical handicaps. Both federal and state housing agencies have defied the Fair Housing Act and refused to accommodate my disabilities, rendering me unjustly homeless for the past 7 years. It has been anguish. Due to my breathing handicap, I require a spacious rural property to protect me from 2nd-hand smoke and household chemicals used by neighbors. I was a student of the great Hawaiian kahuna Auntie Edith Kanaka'ole in the late 1970s, but I do not have Hawaiian blood. I live a deeply spiritual, sane, sober, contemplative life and would implicitly respect any property you would consider renting to me affordably. My reputation may be verified by numerous credible character references. I am not a woman of means. But I know how to keep my word and would be appreciative beyond measure for a chance to live in a quiet area within 20 miles of Honolulu with clean air. Currently I sleep in my car in the backcountry of Waimanalo. I have suffered unfathomable losses, including the murder of one of my beloved pet cats and the other cat running away because he felt unsafe on the streets. They were the only family I have ever had. A couple of weeks ago a neighbor shot a gun at me because he does not want to see a homeless person near his boss' property. I would be infinitely grateful for a chance to have dialog with you. Most respectfully, Jade Emory

Cell Phone (808) 429 2411

Koa

me fat lazy hawai'ian, gimme gimme gimme!

Aloha!

RSuzuki

KAWAMOTO SAN,

I LIVE IN TOKYO FOR 16 YRS I AM FILIFINA MARRIED WITH A JAPANESE .WE JUST MOVE IN HERE IN HAWAII FROM TOKYO JAPAN 2 YEARS AGO I AM NOW WORKING IN A NURSING HOME AS NURSE ASSISTANT PROVIDE CARE ADL FOR ELDERLY,WANTS TO HAVE MY OWN CARE HOME MAYBE YOU CAN RENT ME ONE OF YOUR HOUSE TO MAKE CAREHOME FOR ELDERLY,I CAN TAKE CARE 3 ELDERLY PEOPLE PROBABLY I NEED 6 BEDROOM.PLEASE HELP ME.

THANK YOU,

RSUZUKI

glenn

Kawamoto is not reading this internet page.....get a job make money and for god sake keep up your property.......kawamoto can do what he wants, he's earned the right......the rest of you need to get with the program, if you cant maintain your property to high standards, go live in an apartment

SEO Nick

Hey now.. easy on the insults.. Please be respectful of other posters.

francewella hoopai

I'm here to ask and see if we could by any chance get a house. I have five kids and right now we are living in our car I'm a single parent if you could help me that would be a miracle.

Guy K. Koanui

Aloha!! Recently I recall reading an article(I think it was in the local newspaper)regarding the openning of one of your houses or properties in the displaying of arts from around the world. Any other information you might be able to render to me would be greatly appreciated...Mahalo Plenty....Kala

Michelle

Hi Mr. Kawamoto can I get a house too always wanted to live in Kahala.

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