The software mogul proved to be a bare-knuckles negotiator with San Francisco officials, at one point dangling the possibility of moving the competition to another locale when talks stalled. Ellison also scaled back an ambitious proposal to refurbish two dilapidated waterfront piers after opposition to his America's Cup development plans mounted on the Board of Supervisors and in the community.
Ellison talked of turning the piers into a "sailing village" and building an apartment building on the lot but eventually gave up on rights to the piers.
But beyond boating or jetting into Lanai, his ties to the island aren't clear, and his forays into tourism — the economic engine that has driven the island under Murdock's ownership — are limited, if nonexistent.
"He's capable of anything," Wilson said. "Lanai may be in store for the grandest preservation effort Hawaii has ever seen. Or it may be in line for the most grotesque development effort it has ever seen."
Associated Press writers Michael Liedtke and Paul Elias in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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