Displaced tenants say developer isn’t making good on pledges of relocation help

As the Kobayashi Group moves closer to building high rise, some tenants who must find new homes are increasingly frustrated.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 10:01 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 1:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the Kobayashi Group moves closer to replacing a cluster of low-rise complexes with gleaming new towers, some tenants who must find new homes are increasingly frustrated.

They say the developer’s offers of free rent and help moving have not been consistent.

“I don’t think they’re offering that to everyone,” said Kapiolani Village tenant Pierre Watts.

He’s one of the tenants who attended the McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board meeting Thursday to drum up support for a probe into the developer’s campaign donations to lawmakers who voted for the Kuilei Place project.

“How can I put trust in these elected officials when they’re asked to approve permits and they’re asking for $65 million in taxpayer dollars to build this quote unquote ‘affordable place,’” said tenant Nicco Silvester.

Silvester said the developer’s representatives went door to door Wednesday posting eviction notices along with a contact for a Realtor who would help with relocating tenants.

However, Kobayashi Group said they went above what was required and gave tenants nearly one year notice.

At the meeting, Elton Wong who works for the developer said 125 tenants needed to relocate and 46 have moved.

“We did provide notice, we are not breaking any laws under the 201H, we follow everything to the tee, we did have a gag order, because of once we started into the 201H process, we were told not to speak, other than public events and we follow that,” said Wong. “I think the rules should be changed so that we can work with our tenants.”

Some tenants that are left might be interested in the new highrise, but only a few units are available under $400,000. “It’s really not affordable,” said Watts. “It’s affordable to very few.”

The plan calls for about 600 affordable units and more than 400 at market rates.

Kobayashi Group said they’re also providing tenants with a reference letter, a full refund of security deposits, and $1,500 for move out expenses.