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No headache in sharing Bayer Estate

By Rob Perez

LAST UPDATED: 02:26 a.m. HST, Sep 15, 2010

Almost every day, Richard and Susan Mirikitani welcome strangers to their Aina Haina beachfront home.

They're doing their part, they say, in sharing a piece of Hawaii's architectural history with others.

"We live and breathe historic preservation every day," said Richard Mirikitani, a senior executive with Castle & Cooke Hawaii.

The Mirikitani home, known as the Bayer Estate, is on the State Register of Historic Places, and is an example of late-1930s housing construction on Oahu.

The couple gets a property tax exemption for their Kalanianaole Highway home, even though the view from the street is mostly obscured by vegetation. The view is better from the beach.

But the Mirikitanis fulfill the public-benefit purpose of the exemption program in other ways.

They give free public tours, advertising the offer on a website that provides the history of the home (go to www.bayerestate.com or call 377-9359).

They host functions for nonprofit groups and schools and help charities with fundraisers.

They also rent the place commercially for weddings and other events.

"We consider the house as a community asset, and we love to share it with the community," Richard Mirikitani said.

Like other owners, Mirikitani said the upkeep of historically significant residences is costly, and anything that can subsidize the preservation of such dwellings should be encouraged.

He noted, for instance, that it will cost $60,000 to $65,000 to rewire the Bayer Estate's electrical system in a way that doesn't affect the home's interior look.

The tax break also helps offset the cost of not selling or demolishing historic homes to make way for other, more financially lucrative uses, Mirikitani and other owners say.

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