Owner of alleged 'monster house' in Manoa fires back at neighbors

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Manoa homeowner is defending himself against neighbors who claim that he's turned a nearly century-old estate into a six-unit "monster home."

Tensions have been escalating over the home built in 1919 for the founder of Straub Clinic since Grant Shen purchased it in 2016. Neighbors say he has illegally converted the single-family residence into an apartment building with as many as 15 to 20 people living there.

Shen fired back at a Manoa Neighborhood Board meeting Wednesday night, saying that one of his neighbors is orchestrating an effort against him.

"There must be someone calling the police," he said. "The city officials are so familiar with this place. They've visited this house more often than I do. There must be somebody calling the security officers to go there."

Next door neighbor Dale Gilmartin was one of a handful of people who spoke out against the home. She has brought up concerns about the house in the past. She said one tenant has continued to use the property to sell used cars. She was taken aback by Shen's testimony.

"The fact that he's characterizing it as me spearheading some kind of onslaught against him and his activities is really mind-boggling and shocking," said Gilmartin.

Gilmartin said that the city cited Shen a year ago for having an illegal multi-family dwelling, but when officials followed up, it appeared that the issue had been corrected.

Shen also said he has put a million dollars into restoring the home.

"I devote my money  into that house. And look at that house! The whole roof is rebuilt to its original style. It's repainted. Renewed to original design. That's the love for the neighborhood," he said.

The comments were made during the "community concerns" session of the neighborhood board meeting, so board members did not take any official action since it wasn't an official agenda item. But neighbors like Gilmartin say the discussion is far from over.

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