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Old August 3rd, 2011, 04:35 AM   #1241
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Delay challenged in Mei Foo building row hearing
The Standard
Wednesday, August 03, 2011



A Mei Foo Sun Chuen resident must not be allowed to use a judicial review to further stall the construction of a 20-story building already given the green light, the High Court has heard.

Court of First Instance Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon will continue to hear submissions today before deciding whether to approve or dismiss a full judicial review sought by Ho Mei-ling, who says the building site is just meters from her home.

The developer was given the green light by the Building Authority several months ago.

Ho, represented by senior counsel Denis Chang Khen-lee, did not attend yesterday's hearing.

It was suggested Ho is single, unemployed and around 30 years old.

Building Authority senior counsel Godfrey Lam Wan-ho said it deals with a site's maximum permissible plot ratio - not residual plot ratio, which apparently concerns Ho.

The authority relies on ordinances and regulations before approving a site's building plans, he said. Private land title is not a consideration.

Ho maintains the Buildings Department miscalculated the residual plot ratio and the site coverage of Mei Foo Stage 8 when it approved the plans of Billion Star Development in October 2010.

The development also covers a pedestrian area which residents have used since 1978.

However, Lam described as unrealistic Ho's argument that she and a concern group sought non- judicial means to resolve the issue.

These means included meeting district councillors, legislators and the ombudsman, writing to government officials, and meeting representatives of the developer.

"A meeting with the developer cannot be a fruitful one since the developer paid more than HK$100 million for the land. How can one expect the developer to agree [with residents] and vacate the site?" Lam said, adding the applicant had the right to use alternative means.

Ho applied for legal aid in February, more than three months after the plans had been approved, even though the concern group of which she is a member was aware of the development long before October 2010, it was argued.

Lam also claimed that Ho did not follow up the progress of the legal aid and was "completely silent" on the matter.

The developer, represented by senior counsel Benjamin Yu, asked the judge to distinguish between "private law" and "public law" and argued the one before him was about private rights. "The site is a matter of fact, not a matter of law," Yu said.

He also said residents could have dealt with the pedestrian right of way issue between 2003 - when another decision was made concerning its use - and 2010, but nothing was done about it.

About 50 residents and supporters of the "Concerned Group Against the Construction of the Mei Foo Sun Chuen Walled Building" gathered outside the court before the hearing began shouting slogans such as "Fight against property hegemony."
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Old August 5th, 2011, 05:13 AM   #1242
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Waiting time in Mei Foo building struggle
The Standard
Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Mei Foo Sun Chuen resident hoping to prevent construction of a 20-story building just meters from her home is awaiting word on whether she will have her day in court.

Court of First Instance Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon yesterday reserved judgment until later this month after a two-day hearing on Ho Mei-ling's bid for a judicial review.

Billion Star Development, represented by senior counsel Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi, had urged the court not to entertain Ho's application as she failed to explain why she did not seek a review by January - three months after the Building Authority approved plans and still within the period for objections.

But senior counsel Denis Chang Khen-lee, representing Ho, said residents had not lodged objections within the three-month period as a letter from Billion Star in November had suggested the developer was considering a reduction in the building area, which would lessen the impact on residents.

It was only in March that the developer indicated there would be no change, he said.

Ho had applied in February for legal aid to make her bid for a judicial review, and that was accepted in June.

About 20 residents and supporters of the Concerned Group Against the Construction of the Mei Foo Sun Chuen Walled Building, to which Ho belongs, attended yesterday's hearing to show support.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 05:41 PM   #1243
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Past lights home run
The Standard
Friday, August 05, 2011

Property prices are likely to rise further in keeping with the low interest rate environment, but people should consider affordability before buying, said Li Ka-shing.

To make his point, he used Braemar Hill Mansion as an example.

"We sold flats at Braemar Hill [about 30 years ago] at HK$330 per square foot. But if you compare that price with today's, even the construction cost is over HK$3,000 psf - 10 times higher than the selling price back then. The price of similar flats would be HK$18,000 to HK$20,000 psf today."

Li said buying a home is not a problem for end-users with a conservative mortgage, but he cautions against high leveraging.

"Today, the interest rate is low. Judging from what is happening in the US and Europe, it doesn't look like an interest rate hike is likely. With the Hong Kong currency being pegged to the US dollar, inflation will take place," he said.

But Li doesn't think it's a good time to end the link.

"The peg has been in place for years. We are seeing its weakness today, but if we unpeg it, the situation could be worse than imagined. Change is not necessarily always good. It could bring disaster."

As for the mainland, Li doesn't see any risk of an economic hard landing, despite a slowdown in global recovery. "Every policy in China these days goes through a process of careful deliberation.

"I think China is heading in the right direction. The country is trying to create a more equitable society for people on lower incomes." That, he pointed out, led to a huge jump in wages over the past 18 months and driven the gross domestic product even higher.

Li's optimism does not extend to the West, saying the United States is going to need some more time to recover economically while Europe is mired in debt.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:19 PM   #1244
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
5-9 Yuk Yat Street, To Kwa Kwan
Project Details : http://www.kerryprops.com/kpl/en/pro...20project.html

Rendering



4/9

Yuk Yat Street Redevelopment



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Old August 7th, 2011, 09:01 AM   #1245
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Wuhu Residence
7/24



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Old August 9th, 2011, 05:46 PM   #1246
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Strings attached to Sha Tin site
The Standard
Monday, August 08, 2011



A Sha Tin residential site goes under the hammer in a government land auction tomorrow.

The 248,100 square foot Kau To Shan plot is expected to fetch between HK$6.7 billion and HK$9.3 billion, or HK$6,500 to HK$8,000 per buildable square foot.

The site comes with several restrictions. The winning developer must build at least 970 units on the plot, which has a maximum gross floor area of 1.03 million sq ft - a requirement that is a first for an auctioned plot.

The height of the future project is also restricted to between 197 and 202 meters, while green areas should account for at least 30 percent of the total.

"The transaction price of this site will become the new benchmark for the upcoming sites in Kau To Shan and New Territories East," Cushman & Wakefield's Greater China national director Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho said.

The winning bidder will likely build 163 blocks of five-to-six story purely residential buildings, with each flat sized around 1,063 sq ft, Cheung said.

He forecast the plot to fetch HK$9.27 billion, or HK$8,987 per buildable sq ft. Future flats on the site can cost around HK$13,000 psf.

But residents may find parking a problem, according to Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tze-pun.

"The site is located in [upscale] Kau To Shan, where residents are likely to want car parking facilities. With its requirement on a minimum number of flats, it will be hard to provide a parking space for each," said Lam, who expects the plot to fetch HK$8.25 billion, or HK$8,000 per buildable sq ft.

He originally forecast more than HK$9 billion.

The site is the seventh to go under the hammer this year, with another six plots in the same area on the application list.

According to Centaline Property Agency, around 40 percent of nearby flat owners have withdrawn their units from sale pending the auction result.

Secondary flats nearby are priced between HK$12,000 and HK$16,000 psf.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 09:06 AM   #1247
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Land price hammered
The Standard
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A huge plot in Kau To Shan, Sha Tin, was sold to the first bidder in just five minutes at the government's land auction yesterday.

A consortium made up of Kerry Properties (0683), Sino Land (0083) and Manhattan Group bought the 248,100-square-foot site for HK$5.5 billion - 16 percent lower than the lowest estimate.

"We are a little surprised about the price, but it is reasonable," said a beaming Kerry Properties executive director Steven Ho Shut-kan.

The slump in the stock market, building constraints imposed on the plot plus the government's vow to boost land supply all helped to dampen the auction, analysts said.

But Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said: "Despite the poor auction result, the government's land sale plans will proceed as scheduled."

In his budget speech in February, Tsang said the government may sell as many as 52 plots of land this year.

Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tsz-pun said: "There are many more choices of land plots for developers in the near future as the government is set to auction off more sites in the next few months.

"This may also have diluted developers' interests in this plot."

Eddie Hui Chi-man, deputy director of the Research Centre for Construction and Real Estate Economics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the government had set a relatively lower reserve price for the Sha Tin plot.

"This means the site would add less money to the government revenue."

He added: "It is very rare to see the plot go at the first bid."

Prior to the auction, surveyors expected the site to fetch between HK$6.7 billion and HK$9.3 billion, or HK$6,500 to HK$8,000 per buildable square foot. It fetched just HK$5,332 per buildable square foot.

The winning consortium must build at least 970 units on the plot, which has a maximum gross floor area of 1.03 million sq ft - a requirement that is a first for an auctioned plot.

"With the low price, developers are exposed to very limited development risk," said AG Wilkinson & Associates surveyor Ringo Lam Chun-chiu.

Lam foresees flats at the site priced from HK$9,500 psf.

He said the price of the plot is not likely to impact the other six Kau To Shan plots on the application list, as they will have better views.

Lam estimated that the lower-than- expected price and the global debt crisis are likely to make residential prices in the secondary market fall by between 7.5 and 15 percent from now till the end of the year.

Kerry Properties, which holds a 40 percent interest of the project, will be responsible for project planning and management.

Sino Land also holds 40 percent, with 20 percent held by Manhattan Group, a property developer owned by former lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun.

Kerry said the project should be completed within three years. Total investment of the project - including the land price - will be around HK$10 billion, according to Sino Land chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong.
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Old August 11th, 2011, 05:04 AM   #1248
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Slow to catch on
The Standard
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Government measures to revitalize industrial buildings have prompted owners to look into the potential of their individually owned industrial buildings that are eligible for wholesale conversion for other uses, or redevelopment under the scheme.

As at June 30, the Lands Department had received a total of 56 applications - 45 of them for conversion and 11 for redevelopment.

The two latest cases involve conversion of the whole block at 71 Hung To Road, in Kwun Tong, for office use and the building at 4 Hing Yip Street, also in Kwun Tong, for retail purposes.

Apart from Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay, San Po Kong will be the next bright spot in the Kowloon East area.

The future new infrastructure development of the Sha Tin-Central MTR Link (upon full completion in 2020, connecting the two districts via Kai Tak) will improve the connection between San Po Kong and other areas.

As San Po Kong will be close to the commercial zone of the Kai Tak development project, industrial premises there will benefit from the infrastructure improvements and the gradual development of the decentralized commercial hub of Kai Tak.

On Hong Kong Island, Aberdeen and Wong Chuk Hang will be given facelifts as a result of the implementation of the Revitalization of Industrial Buildings policy and completion of the MTR South Island Line (East) in 2015.

Several developers have chosen to redevelop their industrial premises in the districts for commercial uses.

Henderson Land and Hing Shing Hong plan to redevelop the plot at 19-21 Wong Chuk Hang Road into a 31-story commercial building, providing total floor area of about 214,300 square feet.

However, the pace of wholesale conversion has been slow, as many owners find difficulty in justifying the cost of conversion and the prospective rental income growth.

Industrial revitalization is still at its infant stage, and the government needs to offer more incentives to encourage owners to revitalize their premises.

Joanne Lee is an assistant manager of research and advisory at Colliers International. The real estate consultancy has integrated teams of specialists to speed up success for institutional and private clients by developing solutions to give their properties a competitive business advantage. E-mail: [email protected]
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Old August 12th, 2011, 06:07 PM   #1249
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Auctions on track despite low price for Sha Tin site
The Standard
Friday, August 12, 2011

A recently upgraded land sales program will proceed as planned despite a lackluster response at an auction for a plot in Sha Tin on Tuesday.

"The plot was sold at the reserve price due to a poor response from developers," Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday. "But still, that was the market price, so I do not find it disappointing."

Authorities had announced in June that seven additional plots were going to be offered for sale between July and September.

The 248,100-square-foot site at Kau To Shan, Sha Tin, offered on Tuesday was one of the seven sites. It was sold for HK$5.5 billion - 16 percent below the lowest market estimate.

A downturn in local stocks and building restrictions on the plot were said to have dampened demand for the plot.

But Lam was unfazed. "The administration will not change plans for land sales due to the result of a single auction," she said.

The secondary residential market has also felt the effects of economic uncertainties, with owners continuing to slash asking prices. One homeowner took a HK$814,000 hit after selling a 511-sq-ft flat at Metro City Phase 1 in Tseung Kwan O for HK$2.85 million, or HK$5,245 psf.

The owner lopped 6 percent off the asking price to make the sale.

Neighboring flat owners are now asking for HK$6,014 psf.

Another homeowner cut the asking price by 14.6 percent, or HK$1.18 million, before selling a flat of 1,215 sq ft at Mei Foo Sun Chuen for HK$6.9 million, or HK$5,679 psf.

The leasing market also faces a squeeze. A 514-sq-ft flat at Healthy Gardens in North Point went for 11 percent lower than the asking price of HK$13,800 per month.

The owner now has an investment return of 4 percent rather than 4.5 percent.
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Old August 12th, 2011, 07:25 PM   #1250
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Contract awarded for Harbour Area Treatment Scheme Stage 2A
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Government Press Release

The Drainage Services Department (DSD) today (August 11) awarded a $680 million contract for the construction of an effluent tunnel and disinfection facilities.

Speaking after the contract signing ceremony, the Director of Drainage Services, Mr Chan Chi-chiu, said that this is the 10th major works contract awarded under the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) Stage 2A.

"The contract, comprising mainly the construction of an 880-metre-long effluent tunnel with an internal diameter of 8.5m and disinfection facilities at the Stonecutters Island, is scheduled for completion in early 2015. The tunnel serves to convey the treated effluent from the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works (SCISTW) to an existing outfall drop shaft and provide sufficient retention time for disinfection. The effluent tunnel will be constructed in a rock layer at a depth of 90m, such that it would not constrain the development potential of the land above the effluent tunnel. The drill and blast method, which is a more reliable construction method at such depth, will be adopted for the tunnel construction," Mr Chan said.

HATS is a major sewerage infrastructure project in Hong Kong to improve the water quality of Victoria Harbour. The commissioning of HATS Stage 1 in late 2001 has provided proper treatment to about 75 per cent of the sewage discharged into Victoria Harbour, and has significantly improved the water quality in the eastern and central parts of the harbour. HATS Stage 2A will collect the remaining 25 per cent of the sewage generated from northern and south-western parts of Hong Kong Island. The scope of HATS Stage 2A comprises the construction of approximately 21km of sewage tunnels as well as the expansion and upgrading of the SCISTW and related preliminary treatment works on Hong Kong Island. Construction of HATS Stage 2A works has commenced since July 2009 and is progressing satisfactorily.
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Old August 13th, 2011, 07:35 PM   #1251
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Battle of the buyers and sellers
The Standard
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hong Kong property prices are part of the collateral damage triggered by US political wrangling over the country's debt situation and subsequent downgrading of the sovereign debt rating.

A government land auction on Tuesday did nothing to help sentiment, with a huge plot in Kau To Shan, Sha Tin, selling to the only bidder for HK$5.5 billion - 16 percent lower than the lowest estimate. The auction lasted just five minutes.

Over the past few weeks, local property agencies have been filled with stories of homeowners cutting asking prices. Some vendors even slash up to 20 percent to facilitate transactions, but to no avail.

Amid the falling prices, does it really mean homes are getting cheaper now?

"Many homeowners are now purposely jacking up their asking price to allow room for bargaining. That is the usual tactic seen when the market starts to slide," said Eddie Hui Chi-man, deputy director of the Research Centre for Construction and Real Estate Economics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

"So, when homeowners slash prices, potential buyers may feel they are getting a discount, but in fact, they may not be."

Examples of overpricing can easily be found around the market. A flat owner chopped HK$2 million - or 14 percent - off the asking price before selling a 1,176-square-foot unit at City Garden in North Point for HK$11 million, or HK$9,354 per square foot.

The discount may seem big, but neighboring flats sold recently at HK$9,047 psf on average. That mean
s the new owner of the flat actually paid 3.3 percent higher than market price.

Another homeowner lopped HK$340,000, or 7.4 percent, off before selling an 846-sq-ft apartment at Belvedere Garden in Tsuen Wan for HK$4.26 million, or HK$5,035 psf. Neighboring flats are priced at an average of HK$4,830 psf - meaning this purchaser shelled out 4.2 percent more.

"The price slashing is not really real, and it cannot truly reflect the decrease in property prices, which is only around 5 percent from the start of the year," Hui said.

He does not expect the price- slashing situation to last more than two weeks, as impact from the equity market to property market should only be short term.

However, some selling prices are real, but do not necessarily represent very large discounts. One homeowner slashed 14 percent off the asking price, or around HK$370,000, before selling an 896-sq-ft flat at Belvedere Garden in Tsuen Wan for HK$4.13 million, or HK$4,609 psf. Neighboring prices average HK$4,830 psf - 4.7 percent higher.

Meanwhile, another vendor at City Garden sold a different 1,176-sq-ft unit for HK$11 million, but this price was about 13 percent below bank valuations.

"The owner sold it the night the US equity market tumbled, because he did not have a positive view on the property market," said Gary Lam, a Centaline Property agent.

At Palm Springs in Tin Shui Wai, a homeowner sold a 1,463-sq-ft individual house for HK$4.8 million, or HK$3,281 psf - about 27 percent lower than the average neighborhood price of HK$4,500 psf.

"The house had a track record of a person dying inside. After the owner saw the downfall of the property market, he wanted to make some cash from the house to buy some cheap stocks in the equity market," explained Jacky Lung, another Centaline agent.

He said the Palm Springs vendor originally listed the house at HK$6.3 million, before slashing the price to HK$5.3 million, then further reducing it to HK$4.8 million.

"The struggle between the buyers and sellers changes everyday, because of the uncertainties of the global economy, due to the volatility in the equity markets," said Lawrence Poon Wing- cheung, a specialist in real estate development at City University.

"When we see that the United States is unlikely to lift its interest rate before 2013, the homeowners' worries may ease, and they may refuse to slash more prices.

"The struggle between the two sides will not end until the uncertainties of the global economy are cleared."
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Old August 15th, 2011, 06:02 PM   #1252
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Market jitters, Sha Tin gloom weigh on plots
The Standard
Monday, August 15, 2011

Economic uncertainties and last week's lackluster Sha Tin land auction have spurred surveyors to cut their estimates by up to 20 percent for three government plots to go on the block next month.

The plots - one each in Tseung Kwan O, Yuen Long and Sai Kung - are now expected to fetch a total of HK$3.95 billion to HK$4.99 billion.

All three sites have building restrictions and are expected to provide a total of at least l,130 units.

Cushman & Wakefield director Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho said: "Under the current market sentiment, the plots are expected to fetch 10-20 percent less than initially expected."

The largest of the three is a 144,161 square foot site at Tseung Kwan O Area 66A, with a plot ratio of 5.5 times and 792,891 sq ft maximum gross floor area.

The site has caps on both residential and commercial space, with building height limited to 100 meters. This site can house 1,010 units at most.

The 120,474 sq ft Yuen Long site has a gfa of the same amount and is expected to be developed into a low density residential project with at least 170 units.

Knight Frank executive director Alnwick Chan Chi-hing revised the site's price down by 15 percent, from HK$600 million to HK$510 million.

The 25,833 sq ft Sai Kung plot at the Pak Shek Wo San Tsuen Road-Clear Water Bay Road junction has a gfa of 12,100 sq ft, with building height limited to nine meters. It is tipped to fetch HK$109 million-HK$133 million.
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Old August 18th, 2011, 09:39 AM   #1253
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`Street kings' hit on big spenders
The Standard
Thursday, August 18, 2011

It has been common practice in recent years for developers to commission property agencies to market their new projects.

To get results, the agencies have to be aggressive.

Besides making cold calls, their agents also look for potential purchasers on the streets.

Such agents, dubbed "street kings" in the trade, can earn up to HK$1 million a year.

However, life for the street kings has been difficult lately, as the seller's market turned sluggish, with would-be buyers taking a wait-and-see attitude.

And in their eagerness to drum up business in the tough times, agents sometimes clash with security guards at shopping malls, where they accost potential clients, and the incidents have been reported in the news.

The manageress of a brand-name shop told me she did occasionally notice real estate agents distributing pamphlets to mainland visitors lined up outside luxury retail outlets on Canton Road.

The agents' tactic makes perfect sense - wealthy mainlanders are a leading source of buyers for luxury residential property here, and they're often found standing in line outside brand-name shops.

Being in a queue, they're a captive audience for hard selling, so the agents stand a better chance of success.

But the shop manageress said agents working in that Tsim Sha Tsui area are finding it hard to operate because of the tight security imposed by the Harbour City landlord to prevent customers from being harassed.

Security guards jump into action whenever the agents' selling activities become blatant or annoying.

But security outside the Canton Road shopping malls has always been tight.

Therefore, it's both curious and impressive that the agents even manage to get to approach the big-spending potential customers at all in recent days. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily
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Old August 21st, 2011, 05:51 PM   #1254
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Prospects high for Oil Street
The Standard
Thursday, August 18, 2011

Despite global economic uncertainties, surveyors remain optimistic about the Oil Street plot, for which tenders close tomorrow. The 84,897-square-foot property at 12 Oil Street - the site of the former Government Supplies Depot in North Point - is highly coveted, being a rare large site situated in a prime area.

It will be the first to be sold by public tender on the heels of Standard & Poor's downgrading of the US sovereign debt, and the disappointing government auction for the Kau To Shan plot earlier.

The 248,100-sq-ft Sha Tin site sold to the only bidder for HK$5.5 billion - 16 percent below the lowest market estimate.

Meanwhile, the Oil Street site is valued at between HK$6.47 billion and HK$9 billion, according to eight surveyors polled by The Standard.

The consortium developing the Kau To Shan site must build at least 970 homes, with maximum gross floor area of 1.03 million sq ft.

The restriction was regarded as one that may affect future flat prices.

The Oil Street plot has different restrictions. It is designated for hotel and residential/commercial use, with gross floor area of 755,647 sq ft, of which at least 322,926 sq ft, or about 43 percent of the space, must be for hotel use.

The future developer can also include maximum commercial space of 195,000 sq ft, or at most, 527,000 sq ft of residential space.

Building height is capped at 110 meters.

Surveyor Pang Siu-kei said the two plots are not comparable.

"They are very different from each other. The Kau To Shan plot sale did not turn out well because of the series of development conditions and limitations," Pang said. "The market may have slumped lately, but the developers have been eyeing the Oil Street plot since it was put on the application list in 1997.

"Their desire for the plot is very unlikely to be dampened by the current economic downturn."

Pang pointed out the coveted site is located in North Point - a developed district where there is huge demand for both office and residential space.

Centaline Surveyors director James Cheung King-tat concurred. "This plot at Oil Street is more ideal in terms of its location and its development conditions than the Kau To Shan plot," he said.

"Developers were not so active at the last auction, possibly partly because they wanted to conserve capital to spend on the Oil Street plot."

Since the government announced in June that it would sell the site by tender, leading developers - including Cheung Kong (Holdings) (0001), Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), Henderson Land (0012), Wheelock Properties (0020), K Wah International (0173) and Nan Fung Group - have all expressed interest.

The value range of HK$6.47 billion to HK$9 billion would translate to HK$8,600 to HK$12,000 per buildable sq ft.

The lower end of the range is less than the previous estimate of HK$7.5 billion, or HK$9,926 per buildable sq ft. But the higher end remains unchanged.

None of the surveyors have revised their estimation downwards, but two said they are not so optimistic on the land sale.

"The global economy is still not looking good, and the market is still unclear whether there will be a double dip in the European and US economies," said Ringo Lam Chun-chiu, a director in the valuation department at AG Wilkinson & Associates.

Lam expects the Oil Street site to fetch HK$6.47 billion, or HK$8,600 per buildable sq ft - the lowest end of market estimation.

"If I did my valuations before the last auction, it could be around 10 percent higher," Lam said.

Cushman & Wakefield's Greater China national director Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho noted: "Credit risks and the downfall of the equity market dampened market sentiment, which could lead to more worries for the developers."

Cheung did not revise his Oil Street forecast - at HK$8.38 billion, or HK$11,091 per buildable sq ft - due to the lack of comparables in the neighborhood. But he expects the selling price to be 10 to 15 percent below his estimation.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 06:47 PM   #1255
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Towering deity meant to promote Buddhism
The Standard
Monday, August 22, 2011



A Buddhist group overseeing the construction of the world's tallest bronze Guanyin statue in Tai Po says the surrounding monastery will be a non-profit- making complex that will help followers reflect as well as promote Buddhism to the general public.

The Rev Sik Kwok-kwong, who chairs the board of directors of Tsz Shan Monastery Ltd, said there will be no niches for the dead in the temple and that no individual is involved in the project.

But Sik, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong Buddhist Association and one of eight venerables who proposed the world's largest Buddhist forum in 2004, said yesterday that an allegation in a Chinese newspaper about the use of the monastery for one of the donors, Li Ka-shing, has ulterior motives.

The accusation "has seriously damaged the reputation of Tsz Shan Monastery and Li Ka-shing," he said, adding that the monastery reserves the right to sue Apple Daily, which made the allegation.

According to the report, Li, who is chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings), and his eldest son, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, launched a company and secretly ordered the construction of a private monastery for the 82-year-old tycoon.

It was alleged that the monastery would later serve as a final resting place for Li as the Lands Department did not require the site to be open to the public.

Li, the richest man in Hong Kong, members of his family as well as three managers of Cheung Kong sit on the board of Tsz Shan Monastery Ltd, which was set up in 2009.

Construction plans were submitted in 2003 after a HK$1 billion donation from Li and his charity fund.

The bronze statue of the goddess Guanyin - the tallest of its kind - in the 50,000 square-foot monastery near Ting Kok Road is expected to become a tourist landmark along with Lantau's Big Buddha when it is unveiled in 2013.

The Goddess of Mercy will be 76 meters tall - more than double the height of the Big Buddha.

The monastery, with its front facing Plover Cove and with the Pat Sin Leng mountain range as a backdrop, spells good luck to the people there, according to fung shui masters.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 05:25 AM   #1256
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Property jump drives hotel bonanza
The Standard
Thursday, August 25, 2011



Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels (0045) earned a net profit of HK$1.9 billion, or HK$1.29 per share, in the first half.

That is up 174 percent from a year back, thanks to significant gains in its property values.

But underlying net profit rose just 3 percent to HK$152 million.

Revenue for its core hotel business rose 5 percent, with its Shanghai property recording the steepest climb - a 36 percent jump in turnover.

At the Peninsula Hong Kong, the occupancy rate improved to 67 percent in the second quarter, while the average room rate topped HK$4,000.

"We expect renovations at the Hong Kong hotel in 2012 to disrupt earnings," said chief executive Clement Kwok King-man.


Japan's earthquake in March had a huge impact on the firm's regional operation, with the average occupancy rate falling by two percentage points to 55 percent in the period.

"We had a net loss in The Peninsula Tokyo in the first half," said Kwok. The business has yet to recover, so the company has been offering promotional packages in Japan.

The company will not rush for acquisitions this year, but has interest in London and India, he said.

An interim dividend of four HK cents was declared. Shares of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels rose 0.5 percent to HK$11.20 yesterday.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 12:30 PM   #1257
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Cheung Kong in harbor gains with Oil Street
The Standard
Friday, August 26, 2011

Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) has tightened its grip on the North Point seafront - winning an Oil Street plot for a lower than expected HK$6.27 billion.

That is the tender result announced by the Lands Department yesterday for the 84,895 square foot site, which was tipped to fetch between HK$6.47 and HK$9 billion.

With a gross floor area of 755,647 sq ft, the plot - which comes with restrictions- cost Cheung Kong HK$8,294 per buildable sq ft, or 3 percent below the lowest estimate.

Of the total GFA, 43 percent must be set aside for a hotel, which means it will yield only about 527,000 sq ft of residential space. Building height is also capped at 110 meters.

A Cheung Kong spokeswoman said the site will house a top-tier luxury residential project with seaviews in addition to the required hotel development, stressing that it will be solely financed by the developer.

Ringo Lam Chun-chiu at AG Wilkinson & Associates expects Cheung Kong to build 222 units of 850-1,550 square feet, priced at an average of HK$13,800 psf.

Cheung Kong opened the five-star Harbour Grand Hotel in a facing plot in 2009.

It also developed the nearby major housing estates of City Garden and Provident Centre in the 1980s.

Other developers believed to have submitted tenders for the rare Victoria Harbour waterfront plot include Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), Henderson Land (0012), Wheelock Properties (0020), K Wah International (0173) and Nan Fung Group.

The site was on the application list for over 10 years but developers failed to trigger it. It is also the second site to sell below estimates this month.

On August 9, a 248,100 sq ft Kau To Shan plot was auctioned for HK$5.5 billion - 16 percent below the lowest estimate.

Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam said developers are turning conservative amid economic uncertainties and government cooling measures.

The former Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club clubhouse - a Grade II historic building located at the site - must be preserved.

Meanwhile, MTRC (0066) will today close tenders for the Nam Cheong Station site that will yield 3,300 units. Market estimates are HK$21 billion to HK$23 billion.
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Old August 29th, 2011, 05:12 AM   #1258
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Old plots grow new profit for developersOld plots grow new profit for developers
The Standard
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Land supply in urban areas of Hong Kong is diminishing, and the prices of plots are being pushed up. To avoid huge land costs and intense competition, many developers are purchasing older residential buildings for redevelopment.

Henderson Land (0012) has been prominent in doing this, and Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) has spent more than HK$3 billion acquiring properties on Hong Kong Island over the past three years.

The sites of i.UniQ and i.UniQ Grand in Shau Kei Wan - which were completely taken over by the developer in 2008 and 2009, respectively - are among seven properties.

The iUniQ site is small - less than 7,000 square feet, with gross floor area of 60,000 sq ft.

Sun Hung Kai Properties sold flats at an average price of more than HK$13,000 psf. However, it spent less than HK$4,000 psf to acquire the previous building on the site through collective private sale.

Nearly all 17 homes in the project were sold out within two days of the launch in May.

"We are happy with the result, which reflects the quality of the new project," said sales project director Amy Teo.

SHKP is expected to realize more than HK$1 billion from the project - HK$800 million of it from the sale of the residential units.

Retail spots on the ground floor and first floor have yet to be put on the market.

Sister project i.UniQ Grand could give a better return with a higher sale price, Teo said.

Building on the success of the two projects, Sun Hung Kai will adopt a similar strategy
with other old buildings it acquired over the past three years.

Teo said the next similar project - which would be included in the i.UniQ series - will be launched in Belcher's Street, Sai Wan, next year.

SHKP bought the flats in those old buildings through other property brokerages and agents, hoping to avoid high purchasing costs.

"SHKP focuses on buying flats away from Wan Chai and North Point, as prices of many old homes in the districts are very high now," a source who has been involved in old-home purchasing told East Week, sister magazine of The Standard.

"Shau Kei Wan and Sai Wan are its favorites, as unit price can stay below HK$6,000 psf now."

Sales prices of redeveloped apartments can go for at least HK$10,000, the source said.

The properties are then held by shell companies - registered under the names of staff in SHKP - another source said, adding that the addresses on record are those of some related accounting firms.

"The addresses will be changed to SHKP's headquarters six months before the developer starts selling flats in those sites," the source said.

Richfield Group (0183) confirmed that it has been buying flats collectively for the developer for some time.

"SHKP has a very decent plan for that," said Richfield project director Elwyn Chan Chi-ling, without giving details of SHKP's projects.

While Sun Hung Kai, controlled by the Kwok family, is finding success with these schemes, some other developers can face risks.

Hopewell Holdings (0054) spent 30 years acquiring all the flats in a building at Broadwood Road, Wan Chai.

"Many homeowners in the property were asking high prices after they found out Hopewell was the buyer," a property agent said.

"The negotiation took way longer than the developer had originally planned."

However, SHKP refused to pay too much for those projects.

It called off a deal last year involving Cheung Lok building in Wan Chai, which was built 50 years ago, as some homeowners greatly increased asking prices.

The developer may not get a large site through its present strategy, but the return is attractive enough.
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Old September 1st, 2011, 05:30 AM   #1259
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Resident loses court fight over Mei Foo tower
The Standard
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Developers of a Mei Foo Sun Chuen site yesterday scored their first victory over residents trying to stop the project.

Resident Ho Mei-ling had sought a judicial review of a Building Department decision to allow construction of a 20-story building near her home.

But the court ruled that residents had no say in the development of sites and that the department had been correct in approving the application. The court also found Ho responsible for costs.

Court of First Instance Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon said the "residual plot ratio" - which concerned Ho - did not belong to local residents and Ho could not prove nearby pedestrian lanes are owned by residents.

The court also ruled the residents did not apply for the judicial review before the January deadline for objections against the department's decision.

Ho said she needed time to apply for legal aid and to accurately assess the basis and lawfulness of the decision. But Justice Lam said that in a release dated October 15, 2010, the concern group had indicated it would apply for legal aid.

By October 29, the group had a letter from the Building Authority containing the necessary information.

"That should have been sufficient to start the process. Lack of full information should not be an excuse for the applicant not making an application for legal aid until February 24, 2011," Lam said.

He added the concern group comprises resourceful people who are well organized in their efforts.

The second reason for the delay in Ho's application was that the group was engaging in other alternatives such as liaison with developer Billion Star.

But Justice Lam said: "There is no reason why the applicant could not apply for legal aid even when the concern group was negotiating with Billion Star.

"On the evidence, I am not satisfied the applicant had a good reason for her delay in her application for legal aid."

Justice Lam added the Buildings Department did not have to deal with the rights between residents and developer. He said that if personal interest is affected, the dispute should be resolved through civil action.

Yip Siu-chau, convener of a concern group for residents, said they will appeal.

"We must have a discussion with Ho and our lawyers [for the appeal]. I want to apply for an appeal as soon as possible. But it is not something I can do by myself. But she [Ho] wants to appeal," he said.

Ho filed the application in July and maintained that the Buildings Department miscalculated the residual plot ratio and the site coverage of Mei Foo Stage 8 when it approved the plans of Billion Star Development in October 2010.
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Old September 6th, 2011, 05:11 AM   #1260
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Sai Kung braces for fight over hotel plot
The Standard
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A hotel plot in Sai Kung town has been triggered for sale from the application list.

The site - with a maximum gross floor area of 289,659 square feet - will be sold by public tender, the Lands Department said yesterday.

The 193,106 sq ft site was triggered for sale with a minimum guaranteed bid of HK$580 million, or HK$2,002 psf.

It is expected to fetch between HK$650 million and HK$850 million, implying a price of HK$2,244 to HK$2,934 per buildable square foot.

The site is a premium plot which sits next to the Inner Port Shelter, said Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tsz-pun.

"The plot - close to the ferry pier and the promenade - has an open sea view, and is accessible to the Kau Sai Chau golf course," Lam said.

He added that demand for hotel and service apartments has been robust, so many developers may find the plot attractive.

He expects the site to fetch HK$782 million, or HK$2,700 psf.

The tender for the site opens on September 23 and closes on October 21.
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