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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 31, 2002

Proposal to seize land advances

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer

The City Council yesterday moved a step closer to condemning four properties in Waikiki so Outrigger Enterprises can move forward with its $300 million redevelopment project.

Despite protests against government condemnation of one owner's property on behalf of another, the Council voted 5-3 to keep the proposal moving.

The proposal is up for final approval by the Council on Feb. 20.

Councilmembers voting against condemnation were Duke Bainum, John DeSoto and Steve Holmes. In favor were Romy Cachola, John Henry Felix, Rene Mansho, Gary Okino and Jon Yoshimura.

Attorney Crystal Rose represents landowners from a fifth property, the Joseph Andrade Trust. She told the council that her clients have "entered into an agreement with Outrigger Enterprises" and been assured the city has removed their property from condemnation.

The property owners and their representatives said they support the revitalization project but don't think it's right for the city to condemn the properties and sell them to Outrigger.

Outrigger Enterprises' Mel Kaneshige said the company wants to own the properties as part of the $300 million Waikiki Beach Walk project.

Gov. Ben Cayetano has moved to block the condemnation with a bill that would limit the counties' powers to acquire private property. Kaneshige declined to comment on the bill.

Holmes, who opposes government involvement in this case, said he is concerned by Cayetano's threat to curtail the counties' power to condemn. "I feel that's a horrible precedent," he said.

Kaneshige said the company might have difficulty financing the project if it does not own all the parcels in the nearly 7.9-acre site. He said progress is being made on reaching an agreement.

Condemnation involves government using the power of eminent domain to take private property for public use after compensating owners for the fair market value.

Bainum, who represents Waikiki, applauds the project but objects to the condemnation.

"It's not right to me, and I don't think it's right to others, to use government power to take one person's property and give it to another."