Gambling raid at building owned by monster home developer draws concern

The building is owned by prolific monster home developer Christy Zeng Lei.
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 5:51 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:56 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Monster home developers have been blamed for ruining the character of old Honolulu neighborhoods.

But now a monster home developer is facing a new accusation: Attracting criminal elements.

Police last week conducted a gambling raid at a building at 1420 Liliha St., seizing more than a dozen gaming machines, cash and a gun. They also arrested the alleged operator, 55-year-old Qi Ling He.

The building is owned by prolific monster home developer Christy Zeng Lei.

“Here we have a monster home developer who has a record of disregarding the rules. And it’s no surprise they would allow a game room to operate underneath their noses,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam of HI Good Neighbor, which opposes monster home developments.

Lei and her husband have built dozens of oversized homes, mostly in Kaimuki and Palolo, which have been criticized for adding to the congestion in the neighborhoods and taxing the area’s infrastructure.

Lei told Hawaii News Now that she doesn’t know that man who was arrested and that he’s a squatter and not a tenant.

She said the property also has been overrun by dozens of homeless people who have found a way to get in the building and crash there.

Right now, the building is a commercial property but because it’s located in the city’s Transit Oriented Development district, it could be redeveloped as a residential project.

Dos Santos-Tam worries that the developer will build another ugly monster home on the property.

“Here we have a developer who has a pattern of not following rules, completely disregarding them,” he said.

Lei said she has no plans to build residential units at the Liliha property. She said it will serve as the offices for her construction business.

“People want to make me look bad. ... Whatever I do, I follow the rules,” she said.

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