Sometimes smart development comes through the hard work of building consensus across a community, state, or nation. And sometimes all you need is a benevolent dictator.
Larry Ellison stood on the white sand of a deserted beach, bordered by palm trees laden with coconuts. It didn’t feel real that he could own the island of Lanai, he reflected.
It had been his far-fetched dream since he was in his 20s, when he first flew over one of the smallest of Hawaii’s inhabited islands in a Cessna 172 and was captivated by the thousands of acres of pineapple fields.
In June 2012, Mr. Ellison, the co-founder and chief executive of technology giant Oracle, bought Lanai for $300 million from American businessman David Murdock. Now he owns nearly everything on the island, including many of the candy-colored plantation-style homes and apartments, one of the two grocery stores, the two Four Seasons hotels and golf courses, the community center and pool, water company, movie theater, half the roads and some 88,000 acres of land. (2% of the island is owned by the government or by longtime Lanai families.)
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Photo credit: Hulopoe Beach on Lanai in Hawaii. The beach is adjacent to the Four Seasons Manele Bay Resort. There's plenty of sand, shade trees and warm water for locals and tourists to share. Gary A. Warner / Orange County Register/MCT