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Old February 20th, 2017, 05:28 PM   #2121
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Hong Kong Economic Journal Excerpt
Feb. 16, 2017
Here’s one way to solve the housing shortage



As the average waiting time for a public rental housing (PRH) flat is getting longer and longer, many people simply ask: why doesn’t the government just build more PRH units?

There has been a popular myth that the reason the government is unable to build enough PRH flats is that there is not enough land.

The truth is, the problem is not a shortage of land but a shortage of money.

Contrary to what most people think, the Housing Authority (HA), not the government, pays for the construction of PRH flats.

All the government does is supply land for free. And as a self-financing and independent public body, the HA has to generate its own revenues in order to pay for its public housing projects.

Over the years, the major, if not the only, source of revenue for the HA has been from selling flats under various subsidized home ownership schemes to eligible families below the market rate and channeling the proceeds less costs to build PRH flats.

In other words, it is the “sandwich class” families, not the government, that have been funding our public housing program.

Subsidized flats will compete with private projects. If there are too many of them, they could depress demand and prices for private homes, sapping property developers’ interest in buying land.

Bearing in mind how important land sales revenue is to the government’s finances, it is not surprising why the number of subsidized flats built are capped.

As a result, the public housing program has continued to lag behind demand because the HA simply doesn’t have enough money to build more PRH flats.

It would be naive to think that we can continue to rely on the HA to resolve our housing shortage. We need to find another way.

In fact, there is a feasible option: the government can consider allocating vacant lots to housing cooperatives at a nominal premium and allowing them to build residential flats on these lots with their own money.

Unlike land that is sold to developers through auctions, these sites will not be owned by the housing cooperatives, and therefore the flats they build are of little investment value.

That means they are unlikely to draw investors or speculators, thereby ensuring that their prices won’t soar.
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Old February 21st, 2017, 04:47 PM   #2122
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Hong Kong needs green buildings to spruce up the environment
Developing green buildings and designs that have a positive impact on the environment
February 21, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Over the past decade, a lot of buildings were developed in Hong Kong.

Most of them, according to William Lim, managing director of CL3, a Hong Kong architecture and design firm, were built with an appealing exterior design.

However, they weren’t focusing much on the end-users. Times have changed; end-users are becoming more selective of space so architects and developers are thinking more about what buildings or designs to pursue.

“Buildings should have their own personality and they have to be a lot more thoughtful [in design]. Architects should also consider the end-users so they can be happy and productive,” said Lim.

Architects nowadays need to think deeply into what they are building. He thinks future buildings should be constructed in such a way they are sensitive to the issues of the environment.

Moving forward, Lim envisions Hong Kong developments incorporate the concept of sustainability. He hopes to see more buildings with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, an international board that sets different standards by using a point system to certify the building’s sustainability.

“LEED has played an important role and has set standards for good projects. There is a certain responsibility to the environment that we need to be very conscious about and that’s going to drive a lot of future projects,” he said.
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Old February 24th, 2017, 05:28 PM   #2123
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Wetlands development plan rejected a third time
South China Morning Post Excerpt
February 24, 2017

Source : http://www.fotop.net/fotografi



The city’s town planning authority again rejected on Friday a proposal to build 28 high rises and 140 houses for some 6,500 people in the ecologically sensitive Nam Sang Wai wetlands in Yuen Long.

The proposal was the third attempt to develop the 177-hecare plot by Nam Sang Wai Development, whose shareholders include Henderson Land Development and KHI Holdings Group.

The Town Planning Board last year rejected the plan, but the developer applied for a review, making adjustments to the original plan to reduce the impact on the wetland ecosystem.

In the revised proposal, the developer reduced the number of residential towers from 29 to 28 with 19 to 25 floors, changed the design of the towers to reduce artificial light and its impact on bent-winged fireflies, a species unique to Hong Kong, and proposed a greater buffer distance between the development and the main dwelling area for cormorants.

The developer also proposed to build a tidal pond to make up for the loss of wetland function through the proposed construction of a vehicular bridge across Shan Pui River, which surrounds the wetlands.

It also promised to inject an estimated HK$120 million into the government’s Environment and Conservation Fund for the wetland’s long-term management, while appointing a manager acceptable to related government departments to oversee the area.

But in written feedback, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it did not support the proposal due to concerns over the high development intensity, human disturbance to the area and the development site’s encroachment on habitats of high ecological value.

It said the development would result in the loss of seven hectares of reedbeds, three hectares of wet grassland and one hectare of ponds.

Although the developer proposed to compensate for the loss by building habitats elsewhere, the department said it considered avoidance of any ecological impact as a priority ahead of compensation.
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Old March 7th, 2017, 06:20 PM   #2124
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong Mariners’ Club to undergo redevelopment, includes commercial hotel
Plans to redevelop the club have been discussed for decades
March 5, 2017


The Mariners Club TST (3) by Jamie Lloyd, on Flickr

The Mariners’ Club has reinstated plans to renovate its near half-century-old building which have been put on and off the table for nearly 30 years, as declining revenue and a low number of seafarers using the club put pressure on its financial sustainability.

The Sailors Home and Missions to Seamen, which operates the 12-storey building, is looking to partner with a developer to redevelop the site into a composite building consisting of a new Mariners’ Club on the lower levels and a commercial hotel on the upper floors.

The number of Hong Kong sailors working on long-haul vessels has dropped from a peak of more than 60,000 to fewer than 400, making the need for such a large facility unnecessary, according to the mission. It said having a commercial hotel and shrinking the size of the club was to “ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the club”.

“We have been experiencing for some time a significant [financial] deficit and when we looked at the possibility of keeping the building and renovating it ... one would now expect we do not have the funds to do so,” its honorary secretary Colin Shaftesley said. “[Without this redevelopment plan] we would probably either have to hand the building back to the government or close down a significant part of the building.”

The building was constructed in May 30, 1967, and officially opened by colonial governor Sir David Trench.

Development of the site has been approved and stopped in the past. Most recently in the early 2000s, plans were approved to turn the site into a block of high-rise flats in partnership with Swire Properties. But the deal fell through and instead the club’s first two floors were renovated.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 04:31 PM   #2125
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong hospital tears down historic arch to make way for barrier-free access
Wan Chai district councillor says body might have considered the issue in a different light if Ruttonjee Hospital had said it would demolish the arch
March 8, 2017



An arch at an entrance to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai which is thought to have been built in the late 1880s has been torn down to make way for a new barrier-free access.

The hospital said the project required it to dismantle the arch – which did not have any historical grading – to make room for the new facilities, including an escalator and lift, but it would store the original materials and reassemble the arch later.

But Wan Chai district councillor Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying said the body, instead of endorsing the project in February last year, would have taken more time to scrutinise the plan if the hospital had told the council it planned to tear down the structure.

“During the meeting, the Hospital Authority only briefly mentioned that the entrance had historic value and that it would preserve the design of the entrance, but it never told us it would tear it down,” Yeung said. “This is misleading.”

Charlton Cheung, member of Wan Chai conservation group Ha Ha Ha Wan, said residents in the neighbourhood first discovered that the arch had been removed on Friday last week.

He showed maps and hospital building plans from the Public Records Office dating back to the 1880s, when the facility was still called the Seaman’s Hospital.

The plans showed the side entrance on Wan Chai Road first appeared in 1889 as an entrance for a newly built mortuary. Cheung believed this could prove that the arch was built that year.

Wong Hung-keung, an artefact restoration expert, said the arch was built with green bricks made in Guangdong, a material used over a century ago.

Green bricks were also used to build many other historic buildings in Hong Kong, such as parts of the 150-year-old former Central Police Station compound, which is a declared monument.

Cheung said the style of the arch was similar to that of the Cape D’Aguilar lighthouse near Shek O, which was built in 1875 and is now a declared monument.

“The arch was the only remnant of the former Seaman’s Hospital and had very important historic value,” he said.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 01:32 PM   #2126
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
CR Land still eyeing HK sites despite inflated prices, says parent group’s chairman
The state-backed developer was beaten by mainland rivals in two recent land bids – but Fu Yuning says it still has faith in local property market
March 10, 2017

State-backed China Resources Land (CR Land), which has been building its presence in Hong Kong for decades, has been outbid recently on two separate government land tenders by mainland rivals.

But despite hugely inflated prices now being paid in the city, chairman of CR Land’s parent China Resources Group Fu Yuning – also a CPPCC member told the South China Morning Post during the sideline of the two sessions in Beijing – says its interest in acquiring more land here remains strong.

Various local builders have been outbid on several prime land deals by Chinese developers in recent months.

Two mainland developers paid a record HK$16.86 billion (US$2.17 billion) late last month for a plot of residential land at Ap Lei Chau, topping market valuations by almost 50 per cent, making it Hong Kong’s most expensive lump-sum sale to date.

The buyer is a joint venture between Logan Property Holdings of Shenzhen and Guangzhou-based KWG Property Holding.

With a total gross floor area of 762,091 square feet, that price translates into HK$22,118 per sq ft. Property agents expect apartments on the site to sell for at least HK$32,000 per sq ft, a record for the district.

Fu said he felt prices have become “too expensive”, but that it was still too early to say they are nearing their peak.

“The Hong Kong market has unique strengths, particularly given it is a free economy. It is particularly attractive to mainland capital,” Fu said, adding CR Land – which listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1996 – will continue to make moves, but will only pay what it considers reasonable.
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Old March 11th, 2017, 12:39 PM   #2127
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong the most expensive Asian city to build anything in, survey reveals
Hong Kong is suffering from a severe shortage of construction labour, where 40 per cent of registered workers are older than 50 years
March 6, 2017

Hong Kong, already the world’s least affordable urban centre to live and work in, is also the costliest Asian city to get anything built, due to its severe shortage of construction labour, according to a survey by global design and architecture consultancy Arcadis.

Hong Kong’s registered construction workers numbered 427,609 as of January, according to the city’s Construction Industry Council website. Their productivity and number of working days are declining, as 40 per cent of registered workers are older than 50 years, according to data by Hong Kong’s Construction Industry Alliance.

“The major reason is shortage of labour in Hong Kong,” a persistent problem with no apparent and immediate solutions, said Francis Au, Arcadis’ country head for Hong Kong and Macau, in releasing the International Construction Costs Index. “Solutions based on migrant labour aren’t acceptable to the local population at this stage. To stabilise the rising building costs, the government and the construction industry will have to look into investing in initiatives and solutions that can increase industrial productivity.”

Macau is Asia’s second-most expensive city for building because of the massive number of casinos under construction, he said.

“We used to call those casinos money-printing machines,’” Au said. Unlike Hong Kong, Macau can import construction workers from mainland China and Hong Kong, which goes some way to alleviating the labour shortage and cap the costs.

For the remainder of this year, Hong Kong’s construction industry workload can be sustained by upcoming mega projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, and large housing programmes with 480,000 apartment units expected to be built over the next decade, Arcadis said.

Slower economic growth in China may cut construction costs by 2 to 3 percentage points, he said.
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Old March 13th, 2017, 06:10 PM   #2128
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong property buyers still piling in, as another 9,400 prospective buyers sign up for three projects
Developers will be releasing more than 780 individual units, with an estimated value of more than HK$11 billion, for sale this week
March 13, 2017



Buyers are still piling into the residential Hong Kong property market after around 9,400 potential buyers signed up to buy flats in three new projects being released this week, despite the likelihood the US Federal Reserve will increase interest rates this week.

Riding high on the ongoing surge in demand for property in the city, developers will be releasing more than 870 individual units, with an estimated value of more than HK$11 billion, for sale this week.

With a third batch of 46 units released on Monday, Cheung Kong Property will offer a total of 188 units at its Seanorama development, in Ma On Shan, for sale on Friday.

On the same day, Sun Hung Kai Properties says it plans to release another 105 flats at least at its Cullinan West development on top of West Rail’s Nam Cheong Station on Saturday, raising the total units on sale there to 315.

“The strong initial responses for these projects shows there is still an excess of liquidity, but limited investment alternatives,” said Thomas Lam, senior director at Knight Frank.

With some purchasers planning to buy more than one flat, he said property investors now account for about 30 per cent of new flat sales, rather than those planning to actually live in them.

One buyer recently bought six units – a total 12,912 square feet – at the luxury residential project Altamira in Mid-levels for HK$758.8 million, or HK$58,767 per sq ft through tender sale, according to private developer Majestic Elite Property Development.

Despite some individual projects still seeing their prices being marked up significantly, Lam said most new developments would be well received as long as they were offered at reasonable prices. He added the sales outcomes of most projects remain good.
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Old March 15th, 2017, 06:55 PM   #2129
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So touts cinema sites at Kai Tak and Sha Tin
Mar. 14, 2017
The Standard Excerpt

Two pieces of land will be put on sale on condition that developers build a cinema on the sites at Kai Tak and Sha Tin.

The initiative was revealed yesterday by Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung, who said it is meant to fulfill the government's promise to give the film industry a boost.

"We have initially identified two commercial sites which are planned for sale by the government, one in Kai Tak and one in Sha Tin," So said after the opening of the Entertainment Expo at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. "We will include in the land leases a required minimum number of cinema seats."

Should developers wish to change the land use after the sale, So said they will first have to get approval from his bureau and pay the necessary premium.

"To support the growth of these cinemas, the bureau will not consider any amendments to the land leases within the first seven years of their operation," he said.

The government will also ask the West Kowloon Cultural District if it can reserve land for a new cinema there.
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Old March 16th, 2017, 06:23 PM   #2130
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Tsuen Wan West


#HK #Architecture #Skycrapers #Cityview #Highway #Seaside by dtklee, on Flickr
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Old March 21st, 2017, 05:39 PM   #2131
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Plenty of interest in Tai Kok Tsui project
The Standard Excerpt
Mar 21, 2017



Twenty-eight proposals have been received by the Urban Renewal Authority for its Tai Kok Tsui redevelopment project.

The project based on Fuk Chak Street-Li Tak Street is a relatively small residential project covering a 768-square-meter site.

Ninety-six flats are to be built there with a total residential floor area of 54,928 square feet. And 6,856 sq ft is being reserved for commercial purposes.

The project has a estimated market value of HK$617 million to HK$865 million, or HK$10,000 to HK$14,000 per square foot.

Among developers who have submitted proposals are Wheelock (0020), New World (0017), Emperor International (0163), Nan Fung, Easyknit International (1218), K&K Property, Cheung Kong Property (1113), Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) and Far East Consortium International (0035).
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Old March 24th, 2017, 06:09 PM   #2132
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晨港 by TSOriginaux, on Flickr
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Old March 26th, 2017, 05:30 AM   #2133
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong’s famous Peak Tram to shorten its journey by 70 metres following renovation
HK$600 million renovation project is slated to begin in 2019 if approved with anticipated completion date of summer 2020
March 21, 2017

Passengers on the city’s iconic Peak Tram will notice a shorter journey after the trams and terminuses go through a multimillion dollar facelift later this decade.

The HK$600 million renovation project, currently awaiting approval from the government, will see an expansion of the Admiralty terminus to allow passengers to queue indoors and escape from hot or bad weather.

The last renovation of the trams and terminuses was completed in 1989. To make room for the larger terminus the tram will halt 70 *metres from the existing stop – leading to a slightly shorter journey for passengers.

But according to the director of the company which operates the nearly 130-year-old tourist *attraction the intention of the *renovation “was not to speed-up the journey”.

“We’re going to move all the people who currently queue on the road ... [and] move them in to air-conditioned comfort,” Martyn Sawyer, properties director of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited, told the Post.

“People will be undercover in temperature-controlled conditions. It will be more pleasant.”

Daniel Sacher – visiting from the US with his family and waiting a long time to board the tram – said having a sheltered area “would be much more comfortable, especially for children.”

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing agreed that the most urgent need was for “more sheltered space for queuing up”.

“The tram is now a tourism facility rather than just a form of public transport.

“Compared [with] similar facilities in Singapore, Japan and the mainland, we have room for improvement, such as the capacity.”

Part of the renovation will include expanding the capacity of the two trams, increasing from 120 to 200 passengers, with four longer carriages replacing the existing ones.

The terminus at The Peak will be remodelled to fit the longer trains. After receiving government approval, feasibility works will commence in late 2017. Closure of the tram system is expected to occur for one month in 2019 and three months in 2020. The anticipated renovation completion date is summer 2020.
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Old March 26th, 2017, 04:46 PM   #2134
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BEAUTIFUL HONG KONG
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Old March 28th, 2017, 02:42 PM   #2135
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Hong Kong’s housing squeeze: the easy fix for next chief executive is ...
If rezoned, former agricultural land in the New Territories could go a long way towards solving the housing crunch, but vested interests elsewhere may not be keen
26 March 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

When Hong Kong’s incoming chief executive moves into her (or, at the time of writing, just conceivably his) spacious new quarters in Government House on July 1, she will face a cacophony of calls to tackle the city’s housing squeeze.

There can be no doubt that the government’s housing policy needs a radical overhaul. As tenant on Upper Albert Road, the new chief executive will enjoy, among other amenities, a sizable ballroom. Meanwhile, less fortunate citizens are being asked to pay as much as HK$3 million for apartments measuring a minuscule 150 sq ft.

Let’s put that into perspective. Property in London and its surrounding home counties is considered eye-wateringly expensive. Yet the equivalent of HK$3 million can buy you a substantial 1,400-sq-ft house with a garden within commuting distance of London’s financial centre. And your kitchen will be bigger than your entire flat in Hong Kong.

It gets worse. Assuming you can scrape together the down payment needed for a more reasonably sized apartment in Hong Kong, it is likely you will still struggle to pay the rent. Monthly payments on a 70 per cent mortgage for a 540-sq-ft flat currently eat up more than 60 per cent of the median monthly income for families in private housing – that’s with mortgage rates at 2 per cent.

What’s more, if you believe the property professionals, things are only going to get more expensive. The prices paid at recent land auctions imply a further increase in home prices over the next three to four years of at least 20 per cent.

The government argues that to meet burgeoning demand, Hong Kong must build 460,000 new homes in the coming years. The trouble, complain officials, is that the city simply doesn’t have enough building land. Their preferred solution is two-fold: build on Hong Kong’s country parks, and build on new artificial islands reclaimed from the sea.

The institutional preference for building on the country parks and on newly reclaimed land is not surprising. Hong Kong’s officials have long sought a way to monetise the parks, and developers like greenfield sites – they do not have to be cleaned up, the government provides brand new infrastructure and when they come to market they can command a premium.

Similarly, both also like land reclamation. For officials, reclamation offers the opportunity to dispense patronage on a grand scale, and spend buckets of public money on new roads, bridges and tunnels. For developers and their affiliated companies, it means lucrative construction contracts.

Yet neither option is necessary. There is a far simpler way to solve Hong Kong’s shortage of building land.

Let us assume that Hong Kong really does require 460,000 new homes as the government insists. Further, let’s assume that Hong Kong wants to build better quality housing than it has done in recent years, with a density of around half the 1,000 or more apartments per hectare common in the government’s new towns. If so, the city will require around 900 hectares of new building land.

It’s not that hard to find. Just three of the city’s developers – Henderson Land, Sun Hung Kai, and New World – are sitting on undeveloped, former agricultural land in the New Territories with a combined area of 92.5 million sq ft. Converted to the metric system, that’s a total of 859 hectares — not far short of the total area required for the new low-density developments needed to meet Hong Kong’s projected housing demand.

More : http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinio...hief-executive
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Old March 28th, 2017, 03:02 PM   #2136
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City/Metro Compilation

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Old April 4th, 2017, 05:57 PM   #2137
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong Mariners’ Club to undergo redevelopment, includes commercial hotel
Plans to redevelop the club have been discussed for decades
March 5, 2017


The Mariners Club TST (3) by Jamie Lloyd, on Flickr
South China Morning Post Excerpt
Redevelopment of Mariners’ Club in Tsim Sha Tsui draws strong response from developers
April 4, 2017

The proposed redevelopment of the 50-year-old Mariners’ Club in Tsim Sha Tsui has generated enthusiastic initial response from developers ahead of the official tender, the club’s operator said.

The Sailors’ Home and Missions to Seamen, which operates the club, is to redevelop the site through a partnership with private developers.
“We have received a good response when we invited developers to submit expressions of interest last week,” the mission’s honorary secretary Colin Shaftesley said.

He said the developer would bear full responsibility for demolishing the building and redeveloping the site into a hotel.

“We will be given a club premises in the newly developed hotel in future,” he said.

The project has drawn interest from developers such as Lai Sun Development, Regal Hotels International, Far East Consortium International, Empire Group Holdings, Sino Land and Henderson Land Development.

Located at 11 Middle Road, the 33-storey building, which could yield a potential gross floor area of 346,800 square feet, is valued at HK$5.2 billion, or HK$15,000 per square foot. The mission will retain 50,000 sq ft for the club and a church while the remaining 300,000 sq ft will be allocated for hotel purposes.
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Old April 8th, 2017, 01:05 AM   #2138
Guanzo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erbse View Post
HK needs to find an alternative to these horrible commieblock-like highrise walls, to provide more affordable appartments. This is getting ridiculous. "Thinking outside the box" is indeed key here, in every sense of the word!
Pretty much this
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Old April 10th, 2017, 06:13 PM   #2139
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Hong Kong regulator must come down hard on firms that put profit before worker safety
Paul Yip calls for heavier penalties for companies that flout safety rules, after a string of accidents on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project that has left 10 people dead
April 9, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Ten people have now died during the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. In the latest accident involving five workers, safety rules appear to have been breached with harnesses hooked to the working platform rather than an independent anchor.

The lack of a strong response from the community and government is disturbing. Is Hong Kong compromising safety and putting profit ahead of human life? Hong Kong’s laws and enforcement should measure up to the best. If we can tolerate such cracks in our system, it won’t take long for the city to start to crumble.

Hong Kong’s record on construction fatalities is not good by international standards. On average, there are some 180 occupational fatalities annually, a rate of 0.06 per 1,000 employees. In the state of Victoria in Australia, for example, that figure is 20 deaths, a rate of 0.01 per 1,000 employees.

Any company that fails to comply with safety standards should be severely punished. We cannot allow construction companies to cut corners to save money and meet deadlines at the expense of people’s lives.

Current penalties have little effect, with the maximum of up to a year in prison and a HK$500,000 fine. Most companies have been fined HK$100,000 or less. Compared with the billions companies make from a project, it is nothing. Furthermore, the pain of the family of the deceased cannot be ignored.

The only way to make companies comply is by imposing large financial penalties, and suspending the work, which could be even more costly. The labour department cannot be a toothless regulator.

More : http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-...rms-put-profit
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Old April 11th, 2017, 06:58 AM   #2140
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Tsuen Wan West - Ocean Pride
970 units

















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