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Kawamoto didn't have permit to tear down estate in Kahala


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POSTED: Saturday, September 19, 2009

Japanese billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto did not have a demolition permit in place before he razed the former Hemmeter estate in Kahala to the ground on Thursday.

However, after receiving a notice of violation from the city, Kawamoto applied for one and received the permit yesterday afternoon, according to the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting.

Kawamoto, who owns more than 20 homes in Kahala, purchased the 27-year-old Hemmeter estate as a fixer-upper in 2005 for $12 million, plus another $6 million for the two adjacent parcels.

He has said in the past that he would transform some of his oceanside Kahala homes into museums to showcase his extensive art collection, and that the former Hemmeter estate, in particular, would become a garden museum.

Kahala neighbors, who have been critics of the billionaire for leaving his homes in disrepair, say they would like him to follow the area's covenants but have never been able to communicate with him.

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From 2005 through 2009, Kawamoto received numerous citations from the city—48 notices of violations and 20 notice of orders, according to DPP.

Of that total, 36 violations were corrected.

A notice of violation, similar to a warning, gives the recipient a certain period of time to correct it. If not corrected, the notice results in civil fines or a referral to the prosecuting attorney or corporation counsel.

A notice of order results in an initial fine of $50. If not corrected after 30 days, additional fines of $50 a day are levied.

The citations were for homes with litter, overgrowth of foliage, debris, unkempt sidewalk areas, shoreline setback violations and swimming pools not kept up to safety standards.