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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kawamoto seeks comment

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Genshiro Kawamoto

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Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto has set up a post office box for people interested in contacting him about his recently floated idea to rent 10 homes on Kahala Avenue to needy Hawaiians for $100 to $200 a month.

An Advertiser story on Oct. 10 about Kawamoto's plans resulted in more than 150 phone calls and e-mail comments from readers, mostly in support of bringing affordable rentals to one of the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods on O'ahu.

But there also was a sprinkling of opposition to the idea, some doubt about Kawamoto's seriousness and even a theory that the real-estate tycoon was trying to depress property values so he can buy more Kahala homes at a discount.

Kawamoto has bought about 20 homes on Kahala Avenue since 2002 for about $115 million, including an $11 million property with four homes purchased last month before he announced his plan.

Kawamoto said last month that he might buy up to 25 homes on Kahala Avenue for a total of $200 million.

Shanette Inere, a 23-year-old Hawaiian who lives in Waipahu and works at Rachel's Lei Stand at Honolulu International Airport, said she'd love a chance to live in one of Kawamoto's homes, most of which are empty.

"I think it's awesome," she said of Kawamoto's idea. "But I think there's going to be a lot of protest about it."

In addition to renting homes to needy Hawaiians, Kawamoto's plan called for turning five other homes on Kahala Avenue into public museums displaying his art collection.

Address comments to Kawamoto at P.O. Box 15547, Honolulu, HI 96830.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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