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A&B buys Kawamoto properties

By Andrew Gomes

LAST UPDATED: 11:31 a.m. HST, Sep 10, 2013

Genshiro Kawamoto has cashed out of Kahala, selling his collection of homes and residential lots in the oceanfront Oahu neighborhood to local real estate firm Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

A&B announced the deal today, and said it bought 27 parcels on Kahala Avenue and four others elsewhere in the state from Kawamoto for $98 million.

A&B said it plans to clean up, refurbish and resell the Kahala properties in an effort that will begin immediately and could take three to five years.

Kawamoto acquired the Kahala homes over the last decade and was in the process of converting a few of the properties into public art houses and gardens that drew ridicule from neighbors. Many of the homes were poorly maintained or had been demolished, and Kawamoto racked up numerous fines from the city.

The Japanese billionaire also had rented three of the homes to needy Native Hawaiian families for free. A&B did not say how its acquisition will affect tenants.

The Kahala homes represent about 16 percent of all the residential lots on Kahala Avenue. The other four properties included in the sale are two residential lots and a preservation-zoned parcel in Kahaluu on Oahu's Windward side, and a 146-acre agricultural-zoned parcel in Kihei, Maui.

"This acquisition is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Michael Wright, an executive vice president with A&B, said in a statement.

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