Lawyer on Controversial North Shore Development Plan Bought Choice Land

Joe Rubin/ Civil Beat

It is no surprise that Lex Smith, a well-connected attorney, has been a key player in the contentious efforts to develop the rustic Kahuku Village on the North Shore into a multi-million dollar real estate development.

After all, Smith has been working for years on behalf of Continental Pacific, a Florida-based developer, to build luxury oceanfront lots on the property.

That project fell apart when the company balked at doing an environmental impact study required by the city. Since then, Continental Pacific has shifted toward parceling off the land to sell it to individual buyers.

The surprise came in mid-September when Honolulu City Councilman Ernie Martin revealed that Smith had purchased three of the properties, as well as the plantation homes that sat on them, for himself.

When Martin told residents at a North Shore neighborhood board meeting about Smith's real estate investment there were audible gasps in the room and astonishment that a lawyer for the seller had become a buyer.

Contacted by Civil Beat, Smith was forthright. "I bought them because I thought it was a good deal."

A look at the local real estate market suggests that he is probably right. Smith, who has no plans to move to Kahuku Village and who hasn't yet decided what he will do with the properties, said he purchased all three for a total of $600,000. Similar individual lots have have been on the market for more than $400,000 each.

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