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Old December 14th, 2005, 05:52 PM   #101
hkskyline
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Stock of the Bay
12 December 2005
Hong Kong Standard

Defying the laws of physics, if not of real estate, Hong Kong is a city with more than one "core." Every few years, it gives birth to a new one, and the honor, in this first decade of the 21st century, belongs to Kowloon Bay.

Forget Central. Forget Causeway Bay, Quarry Bay and Taikoo Shing. A district that was once mostly factories and warehouses abutting the old Kai Tak airport is where the commercial real estate industry is currently pursuing its holy grail, "Grade A" office space.

In Kowloon East as a whole, the amount of office space is expected to grow 70 percent between now and 2010, making it a match, accommodation-wise, for Tsim Sha Tsui East. By that time, Kowloon Bay alone will be home to 5.7 million square feet of Grade A premises, said Simon Smith, senior director of research at property consultant Savills.

It will be several years before established core areas produce any significant quantities of new office supply. This is being fully reflected in prices. At Two IFC, Central's most prestigious address, for instance, rents have reached a prohibitive HK$100 per square foot per month.

"It's very difficult to find fresh sites in core areas these days," said Smith.

The concept of Grade A space is rather nebulous, referring to buildings with the basic modern conveniences such as elevators, air-conditioning and telecoms ducts, regardless of location.

Not all Grade A office space is created equal, however.

"We do not see top-tier financial institutions moving out of Central," Smith stressed, but there is strong demand for premises in Kowloon Bay from manufacturers, trading companies and back-offices of banks.

The analyst said Kowloon Bay faces no real threat from International Commerce Centre, a 2.5 million square foot monster now under construction in West Kowloon. It is wooing a different target group, composed of bigger multinationals, lawyers and accountants.

Strictly speaking, this is Kowloon Bay's second makeover. The first came at the start of the 1990s when a number of the featureless, low-rise factory bunkers the district was famous for yielded their places to dual-vocation buildings designed for tenants who needed both industrial and office premises.

Sino Land started the trend with its Metro Centre One in 1991, followed the next year by Kerry Properties with the first phase of Enterprise Square. The two developers remain the driving force in the district.

Despite the district's proximity to Kai Tak, developers appear unconcerned about what will become of the former airport lands. Whether Kai Tak, according to the various proposals now circulating, is given over to a cruise ship terminal, a mega-stadium, housing, green space, or all of the above, it will be years _ and many political controversies _ before any of it begins to affect Kowloon Bay.

The focal point of the current transformation is Kerry's Enterprise Square 3, opened last year. A silvery, cylindrical building of 41 stories, it's the architectural standout of the district, especially after dark when the anchor tenant _ the international garment chain Esprit _ switches on its huge red neon sign.

Right next door, Kerry is building Enterprise Square 5, incorporating a 1.1 million sqft retail complex called MegaBox and 500,000 sqft of office space, due for completion in 2007.

Across the street, private developer Glorious Sun has a 680,000 sqft office building under construction.

Behind it, preparation work is under way for a 710,000 sqft office tower for another private builder, Manhattan Realty. Part of the same cluster is Sino Land's new 600,000 sqft office and retail complex, where work is just beginning. Sino purchased the land at a hotly contested government auction in February, forking out a generous HK$1.82billion, nearly three times the government's minimum asking price. Sino chairman Robert Ng, who said the district could easily become as big and diversified as Tsim Sha Tsui East, revealed that the company might also locate a five-star hotel on the same site.

Several streets away, the six-story Sing Tao Building was sold in July to a private developer for HK$370 million. It will probably be demolished to make way for a 500,000 sqft commercial building.

Even if all of these projects are not enough to satisfy the hunger for new offices, there are two Kowloon Bay lots totaling 667,000 sqft on the government's current application list of land that may be sold to developers, said Kenny Suen, managing director of consultant Vigers Asia Pacific.

There's talk as well that a site earmarked for a hotel with gross floor area of 855,480 sqft may be added to next year's list.

It can only be a matter of time before more owners of buildings whose functions don't necessarily fit with the concept of an office district decide to cash in on the land boom.

Though its owner denies having any immediate plans, the Kowloon Motor Bus depot is considered a good candidate for redevelopment. Conveniently enough, the bus company is 33 percent owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties, one of Hong Kong's two largest developers.

The Oriental Daily News building has similar potential. The newspaper moved its main operations to a new plant in Tai Po earlier this year.

The Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre has long been a disappointment to its owner, Hopewell Holdings. The building, opened in 1996 to provide exhibition and meeting space as well as offices, had an occupancy rate of only 60 percent, according to its latest annual report. Hopewell now aims to turn it into an entertainment destination with total floor area of 600,000 sqft.

And Henderson Land, the No 3 developer in town, is in talks with the government about converting Big Star Centre, opposite the Sing Tao Building, into a 10-story hotel with 296 rooms.

To buy office space in Kowloon Bay now costs anywhere from HK$2,600 to HK$3,200 per square foot, up 40 percent since the start of the year, said Suen. Office rents in the district have climbed almost 16 percent to HK$12- $16 psf per month.

While industrial rents in the district are up 7.3 percent on average to HK$8- $11 psf per month, Midland Realty says the industrial buildings farthest from the Kowloon Bay MTR Station command only HK$5-$7 psf.

"Clearly, if I owned an industrial building in Kowloon Bay, after seeing those figures I would knock it down and put up a commercial building in its place," Suen said.

The population of the areas surrounding Kowloon Bay certainly seems sufficient to support big retail developments such as Kerry's MegaBox.

Suen said Kowloon Bay is a catchment area for nearly three million people. It's estimated there are 100,000 jobs in the district already, a figure that should rise to 120,000 by 2008 as new office buildings open.

"There's a demand for shopping centers for personal spending and office needs," he said.

One problem that could slow the pace of Kowloon Bay's development is inadequate public transportation.

The Kowloon Bay MTR Station is linked to the MTRC's own Telford Plaza commercial complex, but there are no subterranean walkways to connect it with other buildings. Bus stops are sparsely located, and some of the biggest office buildings in the district are at least a half-hour walk from the subway.

The Hong Kong Economic Times recently reported that five developers, including Sino, Kerry and Hopewell, would like to form a partnership with the MTRC to build an elevated light rail system to link their developments with Kowloon Bay Station.

Lam Chan, MTRC projects communications manager, said none of the developers had submitted any proposals yet. The transit operator carried out a preliminary study of the district, according to its 2003 annual report, but Lam said the report had been shelved. Any new transport initiatives will have to be coordinated with the overall planning for the area, he added.

Suen of Vigers believes the developers are still haggling over the proposed route of the light rail line and how to divide up the costs of the project.

The analyst said that, well before light rail becomes reality, there will be a network of footbridges, similar to what exists in Central, to connect Kerry's buildings, notably the MegaBox retail complex, with Telford Plaza and the MTR.

A transitional neighborhood such as Kowloon Bay is bound to produce some stark contrasts before the new finally overwhelms the old _ what Savills' Smith, in the jargon of the industry, calls "interface problems."

For example, both the sleek office towers being built by Glorious Sun and Manhattan Realty will initially stand cheek by jowl with the peeling paint and crumbling masonry of the Yip On Factory Estate, which was built by the Housing Authority in the 1970s.

Suen said the authority may return the land to the government to allow for redevelopment, or heed suggestions to put the buildings to other uses, as "creative arts villages," for example.
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Old December 15th, 2005, 04:38 AM   #102
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LCQ16: Current site of Central Government Offices
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):

Question:

Regarding the current site of the Central Government Offices, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) as the authorities intend to relocate its staff currently working in the Government Secretariat, which comprises the Main Wing, East Wing and West Wing of the Central Government Offices and the Murray Building, to the proposed new Central Government Complex at Tamar, of their plan to dispose of the current site of the Government Secretariat, and whether they will redevelop the site; and

(b) when redeveloping the above site, whether the authorities will impose any restrictions on the land use, building height and development intensity of the site on the grounds of over-intensified development and excessive traffic load in Central at present, as well as the site having a unique cultural and historical value?

Reply:

Madam President,

(a) Subject to funding approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the Tamar development project proposed to be re-launched is expected to commence in 2007 and complete in 2010 at the earliest. As there is considerable time before the relocation of the Government Secretariat (GS) from the Central Government Offices and the Murray Building to Tamar, the Administration considers it inappropriate to decide on the future use of the present site of the GS at this early stage.

(b) According to the approved Central District Outline Zoning Plan No. S/H4/12, the site of the present GS is zoned "Government, Institution or Community". Should there be any proposal for rezoning, the Administration will follow procedures as stipulated in the Town Planning Ordinance, and publish the rezoning proposal in the newspaper and the gazette notice for public inspection and comment. After considered thoroughly views expressed by the District Council, district organizations, professional bodies and individuals, the Town Planning Board will make recommendation to the Executive Council for a final decision on the proposed rezoning. In the process, the Administration will have to assess and provide justifications for the proposed development of the site, having regard to the proposal's planning and engineering feasibility; as well as the impacts on transport, environment and infrastructure. Special aspects of individual proposals, including cultural value considerations, would also be taken into account.
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Old December 16th, 2005, 12:10 PM   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
Stock of the Bay
12 December 2005
Hong Kong Standard

Defying the laws of physics, if not of real estate, Hong Kong is a city with more than one "core." Every few years, it gives birth to a new one, and the honor, in this first decade of the 21st century, belongs to Kowloon Bay.

Forget Central. Forget Causeway Bay, Quarry Bay and Taikoo Shing. A district that was once mostly factories and warehouses abutting the old Kai Tak airport is where the commercial real estate industry is currently pursuing its holy grail, "Grade A" office space.

In Kowloon East as a whole, the amount of office space is expected to grow 70 percent between now and 2010, making it a match, accommodation-wise, for Tsim Sha Tsui East. By that time, Kowloon Bay alone will be home to 5.7 million square feet of Grade A premises, said Simon Smith, senior director of research at property consultant Savills.

It will be several years before established core areas produce any significant quantities of new office supply. This is being fully reflected in prices. At Two IFC, Central's most prestigious address, for instance, rents have reached a prohibitive HK$100 per square foot per month.

"It's very difficult to find fresh sites in core areas these days," said Smith.

The concept of Grade A space is rather nebulous, referring to buildings with the basic modern conveniences such as elevators, air-conditioning and telecoms ducts, regardless of location.

Not all Grade A office space is created equal, however.

"We do not see top-tier financial institutions moving out of Central," Smith stressed, but there is strong demand for premises in Kowloon Bay from manufacturers, trading companies and back-offices of banks.

The analyst said Kowloon Bay faces no real threat from International Commerce Centre, a 2.5 million square foot monster now under construction in West Kowloon. It is wooing a different target group, composed of bigger multinationals, lawyers and accountants.

Strictly speaking, this is Kowloon Bay's second makeover. The first came at the start of the 1990s when a number of the featureless, low-rise factory bunkers the district was famous for yielded their places to dual-vocation buildings designed for tenants who needed both industrial and office premises.

Sino Land started the trend with its Metro Centre One in 1991, followed the next year by Kerry Properties with the first phase of Enterprise Square. The two developers remain the driving force in the district.

Despite the district's proximity to Kai Tak, developers appear unconcerned about what will become of the former airport lands. Whether Kai Tak, according to the various proposals now circulating, is given over to a cruise ship terminal, a mega-stadium, housing, green space, or all of the above, it will be years _ and many political controversies _ before any of it begins to affect Kowloon Bay.

The focal point of the current transformation is Kerry's Enterprise Square 3, opened last year. A silvery, cylindrical building of 41 stories, it's the architectural standout of the district, especially after dark when the anchor tenant _ the international garment chain Esprit _ switches on its huge red neon sign.

Right next door, Kerry is building Enterprise Square 5, incorporating a 1.1 million sqft retail complex called MegaBox and 500,000 sqft of office space, due for completion in 2007.

Across the street, private developer Glorious Sun has a 680,000 sqft office building under construction.

Behind it, preparation work is under way for a 710,000 sqft office tower for another private builder, Manhattan Realty. Part of the same cluster is Sino Land's new 600,000 sqft office and retail complex, where work is just beginning. Sino purchased the land at a hotly contested government auction in February, forking out a generous HK$1.82billion, nearly three times the government's minimum asking price. Sino chairman Robert Ng, who said the district could easily become as big and diversified as Tsim Sha Tsui East, revealed that the company might also locate a five-star hotel on the same site.

Several streets away, the six-story Sing Tao Building was sold in July to a private developer for HK$370 million. It will probably be demolished to make way for a 500,000 sqft commercial building.

Even if all of these projects are not enough to satisfy the hunger for new offices, there are two Kowloon Bay lots totaling 667,000 sqft on the government's current application list of land that may be sold to developers, said Kenny Suen, managing director of consultant Vigers Asia Pacific.

There's talk as well that a site earmarked for a hotel with gross floor area of 855,480 sqft may be added to next year's list.

It can only be a matter of time before more owners of buildings whose functions don't necessarily fit with the concept of an office district decide to cash in on the land boom.

Though its owner denies having any immediate plans, the Kowloon Motor Bus depot is considered a good candidate for redevelopment. Conveniently enough, the bus company is 33 percent owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties, one of Hong Kong's two largest developers.

The Oriental Daily News building has similar potential. The newspaper moved its main operations to a new plant in Tai Po earlier this year.

The Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre has long been a disappointment to its owner, Hopewell Holdings. The building, opened in 1996 to provide exhibition and meeting space as well as offices, had an occupancy rate of only 60 percent, according to its latest annual report. Hopewell now aims to turn it into an entertainment destination with total floor area of 600,000 sqft.

And Henderson Land, the No 3 developer in town, is in talks with the government about converting Big Star Centre, opposite the Sing Tao Building, into a 10-story hotel with 296 rooms.

To buy office space in Kowloon Bay now costs anywhere from HK$2,600 to HK$3,200 per square foot, up 40 percent since the start of the year, said Suen. Office rents in the district have climbed almost 16 percent to HK$12- $16 psf per month.

While industrial rents in the district are up 7.3 percent on average to HK$8- $11 psf per month, Midland Realty says the industrial buildings farthest from the Kowloon Bay MTR Station command only HK$5-$7 psf.

"Clearly, if I owned an industrial building in Kowloon Bay, after seeing those figures I would knock it down and put up a commercial building in its place," Suen said.

The population of the areas surrounding Kowloon Bay certainly seems sufficient to support big retail developments such as Kerry's MegaBox.

Suen said Kowloon Bay is a catchment area for nearly three million people. It's estimated there are 100,000 jobs in the district already, a figure that should rise to 120,000 by 2008 as new office buildings open.

"There's a demand for shopping centers for personal spending and office needs," he said.

One problem that could slow the pace of Kowloon Bay's development is inadequate public transportation.

The Kowloon Bay MTR Station is linked to the MTRC's own Telford Plaza commercial complex, but there are no subterranean walkways to connect it with other buildings. Bus stops are sparsely located, and some of the biggest office buildings in the district are at least a half-hour walk from the subway.

The Hong Kong Economic Times recently reported that five developers, including Sino, Kerry and Hopewell, would like to form a partnership with the MTRC to build an elevated light rail system to link their developments with Kowloon Bay Station.

Lam Chan, MTRC projects communications manager, said none of the developers had submitted any proposals yet. The transit operator carried out a preliminary study of the district, according to its 2003 annual report, but Lam said the report had been shelved. Any new transport initiatives will have to be coordinated with the overall planning for the area, he added.

Suen of Vigers believes the developers are still haggling over the proposed route of the light rail line and how to divide up the costs of the project.

The analyst said that, well before light rail becomes reality, there will be a network of footbridges, similar to what exists in Central, to connect Kerry's buildings, notably the MegaBox retail complex, with Telford Plaza and the MTR.

A transitional neighborhood such as Kowloon Bay is bound to produce some stark contrasts before the new finally overwhelms the old _ what Savills' Smith, in the jargon of the industry, calls "interface problems."

For example, both the sleek office towers being built by Glorious Sun and Manhattan Realty will initially stand cheek by jowl with the peeling paint and crumbling masonry of the Yip On Factory Estate, which was built by the Housing Authority in the 1970s.

Suen said the authority may return the land to the government to allow for redevelopment, or heed suggestions to put the buildings to other uses, as "creative arts villages," for example.

I used to live in Kowloon Bay and that area's potential for makeover is high. Currently, people from Ngau Tau Kok and Choi Hung like to go to Kowloon Bay and shop and spend their afternoons or weekends. Telford Plaza is near total capacity because it is CROWDED with people and I DO mean CROWDED. Kowloon Bay itself is a 50% Industrial 50% residential area in the past and residents rarely leave the district because there are still a few malls there to compliment that. Private Residentials there includes Telford Gardens (50 Towers) Amoy Gardens (20 something Towers), Richland Gardens (22 Towers). Public Housing there includes Lok Wah Estate (10 ish towers), Ngau Tau Kok Estate (7 Towers), Kai Yip Estate (10 ish towers). That is a HIGH density residential area and beside it is the Industrial area. So this district not only has the population to support development, but also it is in between the New town of Tseung Kwan O and Kowloon which means that it can also serve as a midpoint sub-metro area. It used to be Kwun Tong, but now because it is old and needs to be redeveloped, Kowloon Bay will have a higher potential to become East Kowloon's City Center!!!
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Anymore????
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Old December 16th, 2005, 12:46 PM   #104
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It is great to see more and more centers to develop in Hong Kong. Demand is so high that even kilometers from central, areas can attract many offices!
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Old December 16th, 2005, 09:47 PM   #105
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New view for Tai Kok Tsui
The Urban Renewal Authority will spend HK$260 million on a Kowloon project

Saturday, December 17, 2005
Hong Kong Standard

The Urban Renewal Authority will spend HK$260 million on a Kowloon project.
Authority district development director Joseph Lee said it plans to rip down three ramshackle buildings from the 1950s and 1960s at a Tai Kok Tsui junction and replace them with a 70-flat housing block surrounded by trees.

In addition to the HK$110 million for construction, interest and marketing cost for the future development, the authority estimates it will spend HK$150 million to buy the existing flats and shops and rehouse the 300 residents.

When the project is completed in seven years, the 5,800-square-foot site, at the corner of Fuk Tsun Street and Pine Street, will also have some street-level shops.
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Old December 16th, 2005, 10:46 PM   #106
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Great news! Hopefully it'll spruce up the area, and improve the view from my flat!
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Old December 17th, 2005, 02:07 AM   #107
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耗二億六千萬元 收購三幢舊樓
大角咀改建小綠洲

17/12/2005
太陽報



市區重建局昨日宣布動用二億六千萬元收購大角咀福全街、杉樹街重建項目,將三幢建於五、六十年代殘破不堪的樓宇,改建為區內「萬灰叢中一點綠」的城市小綠洲,受影響住戶約三百名、合共一百四十戶家庭,涉及八十個業權,項目最快可於二○一二年完成。有測量師指出,市建局多項重建項目正為大角咀區轉型,預計會吸引不少大中小型發展商加入競爭,帶旺該區發展。

市建局地區發展總監李敬志表示,發展地盤面積約為五千八百平方呎,三幢樓宇相當殘舊,不但沒有電梯,外牆亦開始剝落、渠管生及漏水,居住環境惡劣。受重建影響的業主,可按該區七年樓齡的樓宇作補償,住戶則可獲搬遷津貼或恩恤安置公屋,商舖亦可按市值賠償。

李敬志估計,以現價計算,收購物業和安置補償租客的開支,約需一億五千萬元,連同日後的建築、利息和物業銷售等開支,整體發展成本估計為二億六千萬元。

吸引發展商競爭土地
重建後,項目將發展為一座「小綠洲式」住宅樓宇,提供約七十個單位及八千六百多平方米的商業樓面。設計強調綠化概念,李敬志稱:「項目將成為大角咀區萬灰叢中一點綠,樓宇地面將會擴闊現有的行人路,並鋪上綠色地磚,形成綠化帶,外牆亦會綠化,改善居民及社區環境。」

大角咀是市建局九個發展目標區之一。按照《市區重建局條例》第二十三條,昨日出版的政府憲報刊載公告,宣布開展這個發展計畫,公開諮詢為期兩個月,預計整個收購連發展計畫需時七年,於二○一二年完成。

油尖旺區議會主席陳文佑贊成重建計畫,但擔心福全街為主要幹道,在擴闊行人路進行綠化帶時需收窄三分一條馬路,會造成交通不便。

美聯物業西九龍區域經理陳瑞香表示,近月同區約七年樓齡的成交呎價約二千七百多元。美聯物業測量師行董事林子杉指出,市建局多項重建項目正為大角咀區轉型,預計會吸引不少大中小型發展商加入土地競爭,帶旺該區。
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Old December 17th, 2005, 07:01 AM   #108
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More renderings and photos :





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Old December 20th, 2005, 05:33 PM   #109
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Where is that project? It's a flatiron like location. And how tall/how many floors is it?

And funny, my sister is called Ivy, like the street on the above map.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 05:45 PM   #110
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It's located in Tai Kok Tsui, a subdistrict of Mongkok, near the Olympic MTR Station. It's the most heavily redeveloped area in the city area in recent years.

This new project means one more gritty building being demolished. Just miss such unique HK "architecture" of extreme space usage, as more & more are being demolished.
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Old December 24th, 2005, 07:57 PM   #111
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HKIP's Position on Tsim Sha Tsui Area Improvement Plan

1. The Institute welcomes the Government to undertake studies of a local scale that aim at improving the physical environment of selected districts. It is considered that Tsim Sha Tsui is an appropriate starting point as this is a heavily patronized area for both locals and tourists. The partnership of Planning Department with Transport Department is also seen as a step in the right direction in combining planning framework and implementing pedestrian improvement projects together and securing funds for taking forward the planning schemes.

2. With regard to the three priority projects, the Institute supports the principle for pedestrianisation and improvement to the streetscape and believes that those projects would bring about immediate benefit to the local environment. However, it appears that the “priority areas” were related more to schemes that are relatively simple and could be more easily implemented. While these “quick-win” projects may allow early buy-in of the community, their “priority” as seen from a wider district perspective in addressing key problems of Tsim Sha Tsui is less apparent.

3. The Institute sees some critical problems in Tsim Sha Tsui and considers that they should be given priorities for improvement. The Institute hopes that these issues will be adequately addressed in later stage of the Study :

* The serious pedestrian / vehicle conflicts along the western side of Canton Road and the very limited pavement on its eastern side around the Former Marine Police Head Quarters site. The traffic enhancement implemented at Times Square where taxi and private car traffic was re-routed is a good example. The overseas example of improvement to Orchard Road in Singapore could also be a useful reference; where vehicular/pedestrian conflicts were resolved by changing the vehicular ingress/egress points along the road through a gradual and systematic process.

* Establishment of a strong linkage between Tsim Sha Tsui East, Tsim Sha Tsui core area and Canton Road. Connection to the waterfront and overcoming the critical barrier created by Salisbury Road.

4. Related to the scheme for improvement to the MTR entrance, every effort should be made in the design to direct more people to Kowloon Park, which is a green lung by-passed by so many. Improvements to other entrances to Kowloon Park along Parklane and particularly along Austin Road should be explored. Activities management and possible venue for eateries within the park should also be explored in association with relevant government departments.

5. It is noted that Transport Department has recently closed two critical at-grade crossings at Salisbury Road (near the Peninsula Hotel) and Kowloon Park Drive (near YMCA) due to opening of the new subways. The Institute urges Government to review such arrangement which is very unfriendly for pedestrians who would need to compromise the many level differences and detours to cross Salisbury Road, needless to say the inconvenience caused to the disabled, elderly and parents with babies on prams.

6. The closure of a section of Nathan Road to create a small civic square is put forward as a long-term proposal. While such bold proposal is laudable, traffic circulation, parking and loading/unloading facilities to serve the existing and future developments should be carefully examined in conjunction with major stakeholders. Moreover, to maximize the benefits of such proposal, the road closure should have to address the problem of accessibility to the waterfront, that is, instead of stopping at Middle Road, a concrete and feasible solution is required for pedestrians to conveniently cross over Salisbury Road. The Government should also be aware that there are some overseas examples of pedestrianising streets of such width that had proven not very fruitful, the critical factors for success such as existence of any landmark features, intensity and mix of street activities, comfort and weather protection in the civic space etc., need to be more carefully considered if the scheme is to be taken forward. This scheme may also be implemented in phases; interim measures such as closure of some lanes for widening of pavements could be explored. In relation to our concern on pedestrian / vehicular conflict along Canton Road, Government may also wish to consider the possibility of closing a section of Canton Road which currently seems to accommodate more heavy pedestrian traffic when compared with Nathan Road.

7. The Institute is supportive of Government’s efforts in emphasizing local area improvements through promoting better urban design, streetscape enhancement and pedestrian environment with public/private sector partnership. The next stage is for all relevant government departments to work closely together to ensure the successful implementation of these schemes in a timely manner.

Public Affairs Committee
The Hong Kong Institute of Planners
January 2005
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Old December 29th, 2005, 05:57 AM   #112
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Mandarin Oriental 8 months renovation
the hotel that has witness over 40 years of change in the heart of hong kong ...

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Old December 29th, 2005, 06:29 AM   #113
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Mandarin Hotel rennovating! I still prefer the original one
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Old December 29th, 2005, 07:37 AM   #114
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Mandarin closes for eight-month facelift
29 December 2005
South China Morning Post

The Mandarin Oriental hotel - which closed yesterday for an eight-month, US$140 million facelift - is optimistic the market for luxury hotel rooms will remain buoyant, allowing it to take advantage of renewed demand when it reopens next year.

Top-end accommodation will shrink by almost 1,300 rooms during the renovations when the Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui closes this Saturday to make way for a retail and office complex.

The Mandarin hotel chain believes it will benefit from the limited supply of new luxury rooms in Central.

General manager Peter French said five-star room inventory was still down in Central. "Occupancy is very strong.

I think all hotels in Hong Kong have been at full capacity, particularly five-star hotels," he said.

Just before its temporary closure, the Mandarin Oriental had a 94 per cent occupancy rate at its 541-room hotel, the company said. Following the renovation, the hotel is expected to have 503 rooms.

Mr French was also upbeat about its new 113-room boutique hotel - the Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel - which opens in September.

"We are optimistic about the Landmark hotel and therefore we are going for a fast renovation so we can be ready for next season," he said.

The renovation programme, scheduled for completion in autumn next year, involves upgrading all areas of the hotel while retaining its Chinese-influenced motif.

Looking ahead, Mr French said he believed that luxury hotel room rates would rise because the city was still behind in average charges worldwide. "Hong Kong is still catching up," he said.
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Old December 29th, 2005, 09:06 PM   #115
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文華東方休業員工細數軼事
29/12/2005



【本報訊】將休業八個月進行翻新工程的中環文華東方酒店,昨早完成休業前的最後半個營業日,至中午十二時許,包括管理層在內的八百二十名員工,齊集於酒店最有代表性的餐廳快船廊,向舊酒店大樓道別。有員工直言,暫別文華恍如失去一個家;亦有酒店老臣子細數名人軼事,說起得意事時禁不住面露微笑。

昨日下午一時左右,酒店總經理傅宏卓手持金色大鎖匙,主持關門儀式,視酒店如家的員工面露不捨。在文華工作了三十三年、被稱為「文華字典」的客戶關係行政副經理黎炳沛,服務過不少城中名人,並與他們成為好友,對每位名人顧客的要求和飲食喜好瞭如指掌。當中更見證本地上層社會大家族的世代更替。他表示,有一次他為掩護李澤楷避開大批傳媒追訪,在混亂中甩掉了一隻鞋,後來公司得知,便出錢為他買了一對鞋,體現酒店對員工的濃厚人情味。

難忘「六七暴動」警發催淚彈
對於影星張國榮前年在文華結束傳奇一生,與張國榮分屬老朋友的黎炳沛不願再提及令他傷心的往事,因害怕在記者面前落淚。

另一老臣子收貨部主管蘇國華自文華開業便服務至今,他表示最難忘的是「六七暴動」時警方在文華附近發放催淚彈,以及沙士時期全港一片哀傷。七年前由海外文華調任來港的意大利籍服務台主管Giovanni Valenti,認為今次暫別令他如失去一個家般傷心,只寄望八個月後能夠重聚。

斥資八億元「變身」的文華將會於明年秋季重開,屆時外牆將變為玻璃幕牆,地下咖啡店及餅店將搬至高層,地下則改為高級零售店,露台將被打通以擴大客房面積,而客房亦會減少二十六間至五百一十五間。
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Old December 31st, 2005, 10:11 AM   #116
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Investor jailed over flat renewal swindle
22 December 2005
South China Morning Post

A property investor was yesterday sentenced to eight months in jail for offering $100,000 in bribes to an Urban Renewal Authority manager for information enabling him to swindle the authority out of $1.8 million in cash compensation for redevelopment projects.

Yip Wa-ming, 41, gave URA assistant manager Sinon Chan Ling-wai, 41, the money in return for advance information on the redevelopment of Larch Street in Tai Kok Tsui. He pleaded guilty to offering advantage to a public servant and conspiracy to defraud.

Property agent Chan Lai-ying also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service to be conducted within the next 12 months for her part in the crime.

The scheme launched by the duo has resulted in 22 people being charged with corruption, fraud and other offences this year. Several have already pleaded guilty and been jailed or given suspended sentences.

Yip approached Chan Lai-ying in 2002, saying he had information that properties in Larch Street were up for redevelopment and suggested jointly buying property and sharing the compensation obtained from the Urban Renewal Authority. Chan agreed and bought a $980,000 flat in her name.

In mid-2003, the authority announced the redevelopment and bought Chan's flat for $473,000 plus a compensation of more than $1.08 million.

The pair went on to get friends and relatives to do the same thing with other similar properties.

To avoid speculation, the authority keeps the date of public announcement of redevelopment projects strictly confidential. Shortly after the public announcement, an occupancy survey is conducted on the affected households to assess their compensation.

Occupants who move into the premises before the survey generally receive more compensation than those who moved in afterwards.

Sinon Chan was responsible for conducting the occupancy surveys. He was sentenced to 32 months in jail in March, convicted of bribery and conspiracy to defraud.

In sentencing yesterday, District Court Deputy Judge Robert McNair said he had to set a deterrent sentence for the crimes.

"Apart from the corruption element, the scheme set out was one that would affect the public purse, and it had the potential to carry on," he said.

But taking into account the clear records of both defendants, their guilty pleas and remorse, he said he had decided to use a lower starting point for the sentence.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 06:26 PM   #117
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South China Morning Post
December 30, 2005
Soho residents face sleeping in the streets
Redevelopment wrangles leave 10 elderly people on verge of eviction

Anita Lam

Ten elderly residents in the Soho area may be homeless by the New Year if the government cannot find accommodation for them in the next two days.

They have been living in the dilapidated part of Soho for decades but are now being forced out because their landlords want empty properties before the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) reaches a deal with developer Henderson Land on redevelopment.

They are appealing to the URA to help but although the authority says it will look into the matter, it stressed that it is not in a "statutory position" to help.

"For years we have waited for relocation and compensation; now, in two days' time, I am going to be kicked out, and there's still nothing the government will do," Yeung Yuk-lin, a 59-year-old resident of Chung Wo Lane, said.

"I am sharing this 300 sq ft flat with a friend at $3,700 a month. There's no way I can find a place as cheap as that out there. A social worker has been helping me to apply for public housing, but if the allotment does not come in time, I'll have to sleep on the street."

Neighbour Chu Bun-sang said living conditions had deteriorated since the site was scheduled for redevelopment.

There were 181 people living in the area two years ago but most of them have now left. As well as the 10 residents whose tenancies are ending now, there are up to 20 others whose tenancies will end in the coming months.

In 2003, the authority obtained approval from the Town Planning Board on a redevelopment proposal of the old Soho area, including Staunton Street, Chung Wo Lane and Wing Lee Street. However, the project ground to a halt when Henderson Land, which owns 19 per cent of the redevelopment area, took court action earlier this year to have its land exempted.

Although the High Court ruled for the government in November, a notice of appeal filed by the developer last week means litigation is not yet over.

The URA's head of community development, Eric Choi Yan-sang, said the authority was not in a statutory position to provide relief to the residents, but he promised to look into the matter on a humanitarian basis.

Mr Choi said he understood the residents' worries, and the authority was seeking a settlement or possibly a joint-venture with Henderson Land. He said terms were so far not acceptable and so they would have to go on negotiating.
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Old January 14th, 2006, 08:14 AM   #118
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希慎將重建興利中心
商場樓面增逾2倍 租金收入料倍升

2006年1月13日



【明報專訊】市場對旺區商舖需求持續增加,部分發展商近期相繼透過重建物業來增加商舖樓面並提升物業價值。消息人士透露,原本計劃只作翻新的銅鑼灣興利中心,發展商希慎(0014)最近改變初衷,準備將物業拆卸重建,由目前僅16萬方呎商場樓面,大幅增至50萬方呎,保守估計,物業落成後租金收入將增加逾1倍,成為希慎旗下最大型的商場,亦將成為銅鑼灣區由單一業主持有的第二大商場,預計新計劃日內便會落實。

繼尖沙嘴東英大廈及凱悅酒店今年會進行重建後,消息指出,希慎亦計劃重建銅鑼灣興利中心,主要原因是若只進行翻新,目前大部分樓面未必適合作商場,如因樓底不夠高等,若進行重建便可解決許多基本問題,令商場樓面大幅增加,物業得以增值。

寫字樓呎租料可增至30元

消息人士解釋,商場價值一般較寫字樓為高,以興利中心為例,地舖每方呎租金最高可達500元或以上,高層商舖亦有機會達30至50元,而寫字樓目前每呎租金則只約20餘元,所以重建後雖然整體樓面變動不大,但因商場樓面比例大增,可以令物業大幅增值,即使是寫字樓部分,重建後租金亦可跳升至每方呎30多元。

另外,銅鑼灣近年在自由行及本港經濟復蘇帶動下,市場對舖位需求有增無減,目前有部分旺舖,商戶往往要提前半年甚至1年預租,興利中心位處核心零售地段,正可滿足市場需求,而且地鐵去年亦研究在軒尼詩道地底興建地下商場,藉此紓緩地面人流,而其中一個連接點便計劃設在興利中心地庫。

地鐵研建地下商場接興利地庫

事實上,即將重建的凱悅酒店亦計劃改為娛樂購物中心,而東英大廈亦會重建為30層高的銀座式商場,地鐵最近便表示,正與兩項物業的發展商商討,在尖沙嘴站興建新地下通道以及出入口,接駁兩座新商場。據希慎年報顯示,興利中心1981年落成,樓高45層,總樓面面積達719,642方呎,車位數目263個。目前商場最大的租戶為三越百貨,它在物業落成時便已率先進駐,當時正值日資百貨公司在港發展的全盛時期,連同大丸、崇光及松屋,銅鑼灣合共有4間日資百貨公司。

然而,大丸及松屋已先後結業,而三越百貨亦即將遷出,未來只餘下已由港資入主的崇光百貨。
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Old January 17th, 2006, 04:24 AM   #119
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Hysan to redevelop Causeway Bay centre
17 January 2006
South China Morning Post

Hysan Development plans to spend $1.2 billion redeveloping its 25-year-old Hennessy Centre in Causeway Bay to cash in on the strong demand for prime retail space in one of the world's most expensive districts for shop rentals.

The 45-storey office and retail complex on Hennessy Road will be torn down in the fourth quarter and redeveloped with a heavy retail exposure in late 2009.

Hysan, the biggest landlord in Causeway Bay, said the new building would offer a gross floor area of more than 700,000 square feet, about the same as now.

However, the retail space would "substantially increase", compared with the under-utilised design of 150,000 sqft lettable space at present. No projected revenue growth from the redevelopment was available.

"It is a very prime location," BOC International analyst Ken Yeung Hoi-chuen said. "The redevelopment will enhance Hysan's net asset value, although the company will have to sacrifice some rental revenue in the next three years."

Hysan's earnings are expected to see 38.66 per cent growth to $844.81 million for last year but drop 11.4 per cent to $748.54 million this year, according to Thomson Financial's mean estimate of 12 brokers.

Some analysts estimated the company's rental revenue would fall about $200 million a year from 2007 to 2009 because of the redevelopment project.

Hysan's management believed the project would boost the quality of its four million sqft investment property portfolio and change Causeway Bay's skyline.

"The project will further rejuvenate the surrounding areas and the Causeway Bay district, thereby continuing to reinforce its position as a shoppers' paradise and prime commercial district in Hong Kong," managing director Michael Lee Tze-hau said.

Retail rents in Causeway Bay, ranked the second most expensive in the world by Cushman & Wakefield, jumped 25 per cent to $352 per square foot last year, according to Colliers International.

Built in 1981, Hennessy Centre has a gross floor area of 719,642 sqft. The building, which has seven levels of retail space, houses Japanese department store Mitsukoshi. The store will be closed in September when its lease expires.

Hysan, which originally opted for renovating the building, would not comment on how the redevelopment would affect the government's proposals to improve the shopping area of Causeway Bay, saying it was still in talks with the administration.

In 2004, the government asked Hysan to consider converting the five-level 263-space parking lot in Hennessy Centre into retail space to support its proposals to fully pedestrianise Kai Chiu Road, which runs behind the building.

Hysan was concerned that the move might entail expensive structural changes to the building.

The administration also proposed a 50-metre underground passage below Hennessy Road linking Hennessy Centre to the Sogo department store opposite.
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Old January 17th, 2006, 07:57 AM   #120
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Very good news for hk!!!
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