It appears that Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto is getting ready to sell some of his Kahala properties.
"Our long nightmare might be over," said Richard Turbin, who is one of Kawamoto's neighbors.
Turbin is especially hopeful, because he heard Kawamoto isn't just preparing to sell, but already has.
"The best information I have is it's been sold to a large corporation in Tokyo, a Japanese corporation, and that he sold his properties in bulk and that the large Japanese corporation wants to put them on the market," said Turbin, the former chair of the Waialae Kahala Neighborhood Board.
Official records with the Bureau of Conveyances still list all 27 of Kawamoto's Kahala properties under his name, but Hawai'i News Now has learned preliminary title reports were pulled on a majority of those lots. Real estate agents confirm that is usually the first step in making a sale, and it can only be done with approval from the owner.
"It would be terrific if a large responsible corporation bought the properties and sells the property one by one to responsible property owners," said Turbin, who has been fighting for stiffer penalties under the city's new property blight law.
Bill 3 is often referred to as the "Kawamoto" Bill, named after the Japanese billionaire, because of the degraded condition of many of his properties. Kawamoto has been cited four times and fined a total of $11,000 for his violations, which at last check is still unpaid.
"Presumably somebody who buys the property will have the financial wherewithal to pay off the liens," explained Turbin.
That should not be a problem, according to one real estate analyst, who says a potential buyer would need deep pockets anyway to cover the going rate in the area, which is between $200 to $300 per square foot.
"Normally it would be a cash purchase because banks usually don't lend on vacant land, so whoever's going to be buying it – someone's going to be writing a check for over $100 million," said Stephany Sofos, a real estate analyst.
Sofos says she doesn't believe the condition of Kawamoto's properties will be a deterrent for a prospective buyer or that any of his lots have caused property values in the area to go down.
"Island properties are not growing and this is a finite market and people who have the money want to be in that location," Sofos explained, adding it will be an interesting sale if it pans out.
"It's going to be changing the face of Kahala Avenue because all those lots right now are vacant so you can see the potential of all these new McMansions going up and who is going to be buying it and what's going to be happening," Sofos explained. "Island properties are not growing and this is a finite market and people who have the money want to be in that location."
Hawai'i News Now was not able to confirm any prospective sales.
Kawamoto has been accused of tax evasion in Japan and is currently free on a multi-million dollar bond, but cannot leave the country.