The Island of Lanai is home to 3,100 residents. It has one school for grades K-12, one gas station, and no traffic lights. This simple island community is getting a dose of progress at the speed of light. Oracle billionaire, Larry Ellison, purchased the island back in June of 2012, in what is considered the largest real estate purchase in history.
The report on the state of affairs on Lanai as on reported on Feb. 11, 2013, offers mixed emotions for some of the residents of the island. Ellison has a very aggressive plan to build and expand Lanai's economy.
The billionaire plans to take a completely undeveloped, road less, portion of the island and build a luxury resort. Starting with new road construction, as well as water, power, sewer services and water desalination plant in Manele, to boost capacity of the island's old water system.
This will be the third resort on the island. Ellison also plans to expand the size of the airport. The billionaire purchased a commercial airline, Island Air, in January and is looking to acquire an existing Maui Ferry service. Ellison's ultimate plan is to turn the scarcely populated island into the premiere luxury getaway, complete with private, luxury plane service from Honolulu and Maui.
Hawaii New Now reports. "Since billionaire Larry Ellison bought Lanai in June, his company Lanai Resorts have spent millions of dollars upgrading the island's two resorts, fixing up public facilities and building new rental housing. The most controversial of Lanai Resorts plans is to build a third hotel on the undeveloped Windward side of the island. The hotel would include 100 bungalows at Kahalepalaoa, also known as Club Lanai, on the Eastern shore."
Although the residents are grateful some of the upgrades, they are also concerned about the new resort. The new resort brings concerns about the associated traffic and the complete change, in the way of life, to this quiet, peaceful, tight-knit community.
Lanai Resorts Chief Operating Officer, Kurt Matsumoto, is working with the small community, allowing them to voice their concerns about the ensuing changes. "We'll do any kind of efforts so that communication is alive ongoing and it's moving two ways, not just one way," said Matsumoto. The population of the island is expected to grow from 3,100 people to 6,000 so that business can grow.
Ferguson, the restaurant owner, summed up the situation and said, "People still kind of want to preserve the island the way it is." 95-year-old Irene Perry had a positive opinion about the changes.
"Maybe make it a little more exciting. It's kind of dead over here," Perry said with a laugh. Asked what she thought about the possibility of a new resort? Perry said, "I think it's good. Because then we will have more things that we can enjoy."