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Residents to protest over land sold to ‘Iolani

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A community group says it can win a fight with ‘Iolani School to get a chance to buy the land beneath their apartments near Kapiolani Boulevard.

The Date-Laau Community Association is planning a sign-waving protest at ‘Iolani School on the first day of classes Aug. 23, an action that group leaders hope will send a message to school officials that residents are not letting the school have the 5.5 acres of land without a fight.

The community association has hired a law firm to battle for their "right of first refusal," saying the previous landowner, Lum Yip Kee Ltd., should have given residents the opportunity to buy the land before selling it to ‘Iolani for $23 million in June 2009.

The land lies beneath nine apartment buildings that house 250 to 300 units surrounding Laau Street, a horseshoe-shaped street makai of Date Street, next to the campus.

Leases for all the units, including owner-occupied ones, will expire in December 2012, causing some residents to worry that ‘Iolani will raise the rent. An ‘Iolani spokeswoman said yesterday that rent will be "fair" and based on units of comparable size, age and condition.

She said the school will give tenants ample notice of redevelopment once plans are made.


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