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Old December 11th, 2011, 07:44 PM   #1301
hkskyline
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LCQ3: The North Lantau Hospital
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Tam Yiu-chung and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):

Question:

Recently, some media cited an internal paper of the Hospital Authority (HA), which pointed out that due to shortage of healthcare manpower, the North Lantau Hospital (NLH) to be completed towards the end of next year would be manned by only 87 healthcare personnel in 2012-2013, and thus NLH could only provide limited services during its initial operation stage, e.g. the Accident and Emergency Department could only operate eight hours a day, and NLH would not have sufficient manpower to provide full-fledged services until 2016-2017. As Tung Chung is relatively remote and substantially farther away from other hospitals in the New Territories West Cluster, at the time when the first batch of residents started moving into Tung Chung New Town in 1997, they already requested the authorities to set up a hospital in Tung Chung district. However, the soon-to-be-completed NLH will not be able to provide adequate healthcare services to meet the needs of the residents in Tung Chung and its vicinity as well as the travellers in the airport area before 2016-2017. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) HA's healthcare manpower arrangements for NLH when it commences operation towards the end of next year, including the respective numbers of general practitioners, specialists and nurses, as well as the services to be provided; the details regarding the healthcare services to be provided in NLH in phases, including the types of healthcare services to be provided in various phases, their service hours, and the respective target numbers of clients; and

(b) if HA has conducted any study to strive for an increase in NLH's healthcare manpower on the premise that the healthcare manpower in other hospitals will not be affected, so that when NLH commences operation towards the end of next year, its healthcare services will not fail to meet the needs of Tung Chung, the airport and its vicinity due to shortage of healthcare manpower; and if HA has conducted such a study, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

In accordance with general planning standard, an acute hospital will be planned for a district when the population of the district reaches 200 000. Apart from population growth, we also take into account the planning of other infrastructures and the demand for medical services arising from all economic activities in a district. According to the projections of population distribution published by the Planning Department, the population of the North Lantau New Town is estimated to reach about 100 000 in 2019. To cope with the long term development and population growth of the North Lantau New Town and the Lantau area, and considering that the Hong Kong International Airport and some major tourist facilities are situated in North Lantau, and given the distance and travelling time from the North Lantau New Town to other acute hospitals, we have decided to develop a new hospital in North Lantau before the population in the district reaches the relevant level under the general planning standard.

Under the existing cluster arrangement of the Hospital Authority (HA), the North Lantau Hospital (NLH) will be managed by the Kowloon West Cluster of HA. Hospitals under the Kowloon West Cluster, leading by the Princess Margaret Hospital, will provide support to the services of NLH. My reply to various parts of the question is as follows.

(a) The North Lantau Hospital (NLH) project, approved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council in January 2010, is currently in good progress. It is anticipated that the construction work will be completed at the end of 2012. The Kowloon West Cluster of HA has set up a dedicated office to actively prepare and formulate the timeline for the commissioning of various services and facilities of NLH as well as the associated manpower arrangement and procurement of medical equipment.

According to the current plan, HA will take over the new hospital building by the end of 2012 and immediately carry out preparatory work for commissioning of the hospital, including system testing for the building, detection of work defects as well as installation and test run of equipment, etc. Based on past experience in commissioning new hospitals, such work will normally take six to nine months to complete. Meanwhile, HA will also set up a team of staff for NLH and provide relevant training to the staff.

Like other newly commissioned public hospitals, services of NLH will be commissioned by phases to facilitate healthcare staff to settle in the new working environment. The hospital will increase its services gradually to ensure smooth operation of and provision of quality service by the hospital. HA anticipates that NLH will commence operation by phases starting from the third quarter of 2013 and provide 24-hour accident and emergency service and inpatient service in early 2014. Upon full commissioning, NLH will have around 160 beds, an accident and emergency department, as well as diagnostic and treatment facilities. Ambulatory care services including specialist out-patient clinics, primary care clinics, a day rehabilitation centre, an ambulatory surgery/day procedure centre and community care services will also be provided by the hospital. On manpower, HA anticipates that more than 80 staff will be employed by the end of 2012 to implement the preparatory work for the commissioning of NLH. It is estimated that some 400 additional staff including over 100 doctors and nurses will be recruited in 2013-14. It is anticipated that upon its full operation, NLH will need a total of about 650 staff, including some 60 doctors, 170 nurses and 80 allied health professionals.

When planning the services of NLH, HA will continue to maintain close communication with the Islands District Council, local residents and community organisations of Lantau Island and Tung Chung. Thorough considerations will be given to the views of the residents on the hospital's operation and healthcare needs of the community, with a view to providing appropriate hospital services to the North Lantau New Town.

(b) In light of the shortage of healthcare manpower in the public healthcare system over the past few years, HA has allocated additional resources to implement a series of measures to strengthen the recruitment of healthcare manpower and supporting staff, improve the working environment and promotion prospects, provide additional allowance and enhance professional training etc, with a view to improving staff retention and boosting staff morale. To increase doctor manpower, HA has extended the pilot scheme for employment of part-time doctors in the Obstetric and Gynaecological specialty to all other specialties, and at the same time carry out the recruitment of non-local doctors with limited registration. When planning for the commissioning of NLH, HA will deploy its internal resources flexibly to ensure that the hospital has adequate healthcare manpower to launch its services.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 03:42 AM   #1302
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Subdivided units put extra burden on urban renewal
The Standard
Monday, December 12, 2011

The serious problem of subdivided units makes redevelopment projects costlier and more difficult in urban areas, the Urban Renewal Authority said.

The Kowloon City redevelopment project, announced last month, covers 16 buildings over 50 years old on Kowloon City Road, numbered 66 to 82.

The four to six story walk-ups all sport unauthorized rooftop structures, and involve 118 property interests.

But there are about 270 households living in the premises.

A source at the authority said they found that in some cases, flats are subdivided into three or even four units.

This comes after the Fa Yuen Street inferno of November 30 highlighting the dangers of subdivided flats, with several tenants among the nine killed.

The monthly rent of subdivided flats ranges from HK$2,300 to HK$2,500.

The URA said any household renting flats in properties to be redeveloped will get payouts for removal expenses equal to 3 years of rent.

This means each household must be compensated with about HK$100,000.

The source said the additional households will cost the authority more than HK$10 million.

Previous projects have also suffered from the problem of subdivided flats.

For instance, a redevelopment project in Sham Shui Po involved 389 property interests but as many as 755 households.

The authority's largest redevelopment project is in Kwun Tong, with 1,653 property interests and 1,700 households.

Due to the increase in the number of subdivided flats, the authority also needs to deploy more staff and spend more time helping residents register and relocate.

Due to the increasing demand for housing, some investors spend up to HK$2 million to buy a flat in old buildings.

They then subdivide the flats into three or four to increase rental income.

The source said a decision to redevelop is taken only after considering several factors, including building conditions and living environments.

Although subdivided units are among the authority's concerns, it is not necessary that buildings with this problem will receive redevelopment priority.

The Kowloon City redevelopment project, which will provide about 180 residential units of 376 to 700 square feet, is scheduled for completion around 2020.

A two-month consultation on the project ends on January 25.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 11:33 AM   #1303
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First major works contract awarded for improvement of Kai Tak River
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Government Press Release

The Drainage Services Department (DSD) today (November 9) awarded an $818 million contract for the reconstruction, improvement and rehabilitation of a section of the Kai Tak River from Po Kong Village Road to Tung Kwong Road.

Speaking after the contract signing ceremony, the Director of Drainage Services, Mr Chan Chi-chiu, said this is the first major works contract awarded for the improvement of the Kai Tak River and signifies the commencement of improvement works in the upstream section of the river.

"The contract, scheduled for completion in mid-2017, comprises mainly the reconstruction and rehabilitation of a 600-metre-long section of the Kai Tak River from Po Kong Village Road to Tung Kwong Road and construction of a box culvert about 400m long beside the Kai Tak River," Mr Chan said.

"We will also take this opportunity to turn this section of the Kai Tak River into a green river corridor in the urban area. Upon completion, the project will reduce the flooding risk in the surrounding areas and meet public aspirations for a green Kai Tak River," he said.

The improvement of the Kai Tak River is an essential urban drainage improvement and rehabilitation project within Kowloon East. The Government plans to revitalise the entire Kai Tak River and turn it into an attractive green river corridor in stages. Improvement works in the upstream section of the river have commenced with the award of the contract. The DSD and the Civil Engineering and Development Department will implement improvement works for the remaining sections of the river in stages.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 08:14 AM   #1304
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NT greenbelt sites eyed for homes
The Standard
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Plans are under way for more than 200 hectares of land - or five times the area of the West Kowloon Cultural District - to be made available for the government's housing program.

The sites include 50 hectares of neglected greenbelt areas in the New Territories, a Development Bureau spokesman said.

About 150ha of farmland in North District and Yuen Long currently deserted or used for industrial purposes or temporary storage will also be included.

The locations of the sites will be announced later.

"Our working target is to make available land that can deliver 20,000 private flats, 15,000 public rental flats and 5,000 new Home Ownership Scheme flats annually, as well as a one-off provision of about 5,000 My Home Purchase Scheme Flats," the spokesman said.

He said the government is also exploring reclamation options outside Victoria Harbour and the use of rock caverns for more land resources.

The bureau also unveiled a plan to pave a 22-kilometer cycle track from Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun in three phases.

The first phase covers 2.3km from Tsing Tsuen Bridge at Tsing Yi to Bayview Garden while the second is about 4.5km from Bayview Garden to Ting Kau.

The third section from Ting Kau to Tuen Mun is 15.2km. There will be resting and bicycle renting stations along the entire route.

A Civil Engineering and Development Department spokesman said detailed design and site investigation works are due to be complete in December 2015 with the cost set at HK$28.2 million.

Meanwhile, a blueprint sees Kowloon East being transformed into a core business district with two areas dedicated to offices, exhibition facilities, artists' workshops and restaurants. Another plan is to redevelop Hoi Bun Road in Kwun Tong by introducing hotel or serviced apartments and entertainment outlets.

The three issues will be discussed by the Legislative Council's development panel on Monday.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #1305
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Hello Hong Kong!
http://www.google.com/about/datacent...ons/hong-kong/

In September 2011, we announced that we had acquired 2.7 hectares of land in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Kowloon, with plans to build a data center. We’re now busy building, and we plan to start bringing the facility online by early 2013.

Building this data center in Hong Kong is an exciting step for us. More new Internet users are coming online every day here in Asia than anywhere else in the world. They are looking for information and entertainment, new business opportunities and better ways to connect with friends and family near and far. We’re building this data center to make sure that our users in Hong Kong and across Asia have the fastest and most reliable access possible to all of Google’s services, so they can do just that.

We are also really excited about the facility itself. At a long-term investment cost reaching USD300 million, this data center will be one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly in Asia, built to the same high standard we use around the world. It will also provide jobs for around 25 full time Googlers along with a number of part and full time contractors, in a variety of roles including computer technicians, electrical and mechanical engineers and catering and security staff.
Google logs in at TKO data center
The Standard
Friday, December 09, 2011

Internet giant Google made a bricks-and- mortar entrance to Hong Kong yesterday - in Tseung Kwan O industrial estate, actually.

It began construction of a new data center, one of three planned for Asia as it expands to meet the region's growing thirst for information technology.

The center, Google's first outside the United States and Europe and costing US$300 million (HK$2.34 billion), is being built on 2.7 hectares.

Simon Chang, chief of hardware operations in Asia, said at the groundbreaking the facility will start coming on line early in 2013.

Two other data centers - which usually house computer and telecom systems with high security and backup power supplies - are also planned for Singapore and Taiwan.

The United States has the most competitive IT industry, but the top 20 includes Singapore, Australia, Taiwan and Japan.
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Old December 16th, 2011, 06:55 PM   #1306
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amazing Hong Kong
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Old December 17th, 2011, 04:14 PM   #1307
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Ministerial forum discusses sustainable urbanisation
Friday, December 16, 2011
Government Press Release

More than 80 ministers and senior officials from the Mainland and 13 other countries/region in the Asia Pacific are attending the Ninth Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure Development in the Asia-Pacific Region (the Forum) in Hong Kong on December 15 and 16 to exchange views and share experiences on sustainable urbanisation.

The Forum, initiated by Japan in 1995, aims to provide ministers and senior officials of its member countries/region with a unique international platform to discuss development strategies and policies, exchange views and share experiences in infrastructure development. The Forum has 20 member countries/region in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, officiated at the Forum's opening today (December 16). He said that continued population growth and rapid urbanisation and their impact on communities and the environment pose huge challenges to governments of the region in various forms, from housing and transport to energy and natural resources.

To maintain its competitive edge and enhance the living environment, Hong Kong has introduced a new dimension to infrastructure programmes, he noted.

"In his 2007-08 Policy Address, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government introduced the concept of 'progressive development', which stresses the need to protect the environment while promoting economic growth so as to create a quality city life for the people of Hong Kong. Development must be sustainable, balanced and diverse," Mr Tsang said.

In pursuing sustainable urban development, Hong Kong has adopted a five-pronged strategy - optimising use of land to achieve liveability; pursuing a low-carbon and sustainable model of development as an ongoing process; enhancing the efficiency and safety standards of utility infrastructure; promoting heritage conservation and revitalisation of historic buildings, and promoting regional co-operation.

"At the beginning of its term, the Government initiated the strategy of promoting growth through infrastructural development. Our capital works expenditure rose substantially from HK$20.5 billion in 2007-08 to the revised estimate of HK$49.6 billion in 2010-11. The estimated capital works expenditure for 2011-12 will reach a record high of over HK$58 billion.

"The Government will continue to invest heavily in infrastructure in the next few years and I estimate that the capital works expenditure for each of the next few years will exceed HK$60 billion," Mr Tsang said.

Delivering the welcome address to the forum delegates, the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, said, "Strategies have been developed and measures have been taken by the Government to enhance land use planning, combat climate change, ensure public safety as well as improve living quality.

"All these pose considerable challenges for us given Hong Kong's geographical, spatial and natural resource constraints. Nonetheless, we shall make every endeavour in meeting our people’s aspiration for a quality living environment in Hong Kong."

Mrs Lam also shared with the delegates Hong Kong's recent initiative to enhance land supply by reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development.

Hong Kong hosted the Third Forum in 1999. This is the second time that Hong Kong was selected to host this prestigious international event.

Organised by the Development Bureau, the two-day Forum on December 15 and 16 comprised two sessions: the Senior Officials' Meeting and the Ministers' Forum. Under the theme "Sustainable Urbanisation", Forum participants focused their discussions on four aspects of common interest to member countries/region in pursuing sustainable urban development, namely, land use and town planning, climate change, public safety and living quality.

Delegates participated actively in sharing experiences and exchanging views on challenges encountered during the process of urbanisation, and strategies to overcome these challenges.

To demonstrate the joint commitment and solidarity of the member countries/region in pursuing sustainable urbanisation, a Ministers' Joint Declaration was endorsed by the participating countries/region.

More details of the Forum are available at the following website: www.devb.gov.hk/9th_forum.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 08:40 AM   #1308
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Building Renovation Scaffolding in Kwun Tong



Author : http://www.fotop.net/jacksklam
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Old December 21st, 2011, 03:56 AM   #1309
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Developers see red over flats transparency plan
The Standard
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Real Estate Developers Association has lashed out at the government proposal to stop using gross floor area of new flats to calculate their sales price.

"Details of homes in the secondary market are expressed in GFA, not in salable area. This will create confusion for the market," REDA executive committee chairman Stewart Leung Chi-kin said

The government proposal is part of a bigger plan to revamp sales guidelines for new homes.

A draft bill on the issue is expected to be tabled in the Legislative Council within the first quarter of next year.

Under the proposed bill, developers must only state the unit price of flats based on their salable area, not the GFA. There is no industry-wide definition of GFA, which currently take into account common areas and facilities when calculating the price of both secondary and primary market flats.

Leung also suggested that the government raise the 5 percent forfeiture for homebuyers who withdraw from a transaction.

"Five percent is too low. It could be abused by speculators when the market is volatile," he said.

He urged the government to retain the present 10 percent forfeiture and also called for a review of the implementation of the special stamp duty.

"Property prices will be stabilized if the government provides enough supply of land," Leung said, urging the government to boost land.
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Old December 21st, 2011, 01:07 PM   #1310
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^For a modern city like Hong Kong, it's interesting that bamboo scaffolding is still being used widely.
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Old December 21st, 2011, 02:25 PM   #1311
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^For a modern city like Hong Kong, it's interesting that bamboo scaffolding is still being used widely.
It's easy to use, strong, and environmentally-friendly (can be re-used).
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Old December 21st, 2011, 08:56 PM   #1312
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^For a modern city like Hong Kong, it's interesting that bamboo scaffolding is still being used widely.
During WWII bamboo was used as reinforcement for concrete instead of steel. Clemson University conducted research on bamboo as reinforcement for concrete until the mid 1950's.

In South America bamboo is referred to as vegetable steel.

An acre of bamboo can fix approximately 25 metric tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

In 1902 bamboo was used as the stylus or needle for phonographs.

Bamboo can produce 2 to 6 times as much cellulose per acre as pine. Pine or mixed forests increase 2 to 5 percent per year in biomass. Groves of bamboo increase 10 to 30 percent each year.

The tensile strength of plated bamboo cables is as strong as or stronger than a steel cable of the same size. Hemp rope loses 20% of its strength when wet while bamboo cables increase in strength by as much as 20% when wet.

Bamboo has been measured growing more than 47 inches in a 24-hour period.

Durling WWII the US Army Quarterrmaster Corps used bamboo to make crates for air dropping supplies to troops in Burma. Bamboo was plentiful and strong enough to withstand the drop without breaking apart. There is an example on display in the Fort Lee US Army Quartermaster Museum just outside of Petersburg, Virginia.

Ski poles used by the Army in the Second World War were made out of bamboo. Guadua from South America was the main variety used.

India has one of the largest reserves of bamboo with over 25 million acres in bamboo groves.




Source: http://www.midatlanticbamboo.com/bamboo-tuf/tuf.htm
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 07:10 PM   #1313
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Low prices for property sites shock market
The Standard
Friday, December 23, 2011

Two sites - one in Hung Hom and another on Lantau - fetched far lower prices than estimated, stunning property experts yesterday.

A 168,165-square-foot hotel site at the junction of Hung Luen Road and Wa Shun Street in Hung Hom was sold to Shangri-La Asia (0069) for HK$2.33 billion, or HK$3,461 per buildable sq ft. The lowest estimate for the site was HK$3.32 billion.

In the second sale, a 24,326-sq-ft residential plot in Mui Wo, Lantau, was sold to Sino Land (0083) for HK$55 million, or HK$1,113 per buildable sq ft. Its lowest estimate was HK$84 million.

"The prices are simply too low. I wonder which price benchmark the government has used to set such low reserve prices for the two plots," said Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, Cushman & Wakefield director for valuation.

"This could mean that government is even more pessimistic than the developers on the property market," he said as authorities reserve the right to withdraw a plot sale if they are not happy with the purchase price.

Shangri-La Asia, controlled by Robert Kuok Hock Nien of Kerry Group, outbid three bigger rivals including Cheung Kong Holdings (0001), Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) and Sino Land for the Hung Hom plot. In August, a neighboring 147,499-sq-ft commercial site was sold to Wheelock for HK$6,827 per buildable sq ft.

"Future hotel development on the site will have a wide sea view. The area will also attract some commercial tenants," Cheung said.

The gross floor area of 672,658 sq ft will contain a public transport interchange, according to the deed. The Lantau site can contain no more than 50 units.
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Old December 25th, 2011, 01:15 PM   #1314
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Stampede eases
The Standard
Thursday, December 22, 2011

With prices hitting all-time highs, indications suggest that the end of the Hong Kong property market's bull run is near after almost 24 months of unremitting spikes.

The outlook for prices in the luxury residential property sector is subdued.

Prices increased 6 percent from January to October this year, given the relatively low interest rate environment, tight supply and strong demand.

However, the slowdown in luxury home sales is being reflected in the market, with prices showing only 0.6 percent quarter-on-quarter growth as of August.

Luxury residential prices are expected this month to return to a level similar to that at the end of 2010 and price growth for the whole year will be flat.

Recently, China lowered the bank reserve requirement ratio for the first time in three years by 50 basis points, and the cut is expected to free up funds that can be used to create loans.

Although the move was expected to boost sentiment among homebuyers and stimulate property stocks, there is no sign of credit easing or relaxation of property curbs.

In Hong Kong, the Special Stamp Duty imposed on home transactions in November last year to push out speculators remains in force.

Government measures to curb overheating of the property market, and mortgage interest rate hikes, combined with global economic uncertainties, continue to dampen sentiment, causing potential buyers to stay on the sidelines.

Looking ahead, effective mortgage rates will continue the uptrend and rise further to more than 4 percent per annum, and many potential buyers are expected to remain as onlookers.

With this in mind, the average luxury residential price is projected to drop 13 percent in 2012. Cynthy Tang is an analyst 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.
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Old December 27th, 2011, 12:45 AM   #1315
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good projects
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Old December 30th, 2011, 05:20 AM   #1316
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Highs and lows
The Standard
Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hang on to your hat - the Hong Kong property market is taking everyone on a roller coaster ride. Housing prices climbed to their peak during the week of June 5, when the Centa-city Leading Index - which measures price movements in the SAR's property market - hit 100.72.

Last week, the index dropped to a 36-month low of 96.81.

Not long after prices reached their 2011 plateau, developers started launching sales at new projects.

According to Hong Kong Property, 14 new projects were introduced in the fourth quarter, with 2,770 new flats available so far - up 37 percent from 2,020 new units in the third quarter. These 14 projects could provide as many as 5,432 flats.

Projects in the New Territories represent about 70 percent of new inventory, or 1,914 homes. Hong Kong Island accounts for 20 percent, or 541 flats, and Kowloon 11 percent, or 315 flats.

However, the more flats developers threw on stream, the lower the prices became.

For example, at Festival City 3 in Tai Wai, Cheung Kong (Holdings) (0001) originally indicated it would price the new flats with reference to neighboring flats in the secondary market, or at least HK$9,000 per square foot. Instead, the first 240 flats were launched at an average of HK$8,113 psf - nearly 11 percent lower.

Phase three prices were also lower than those at Festival City 2, which fetched HK$8,300 to HK$8,500 psf when flats there hit the market in November last year.

A similar situation also unfolded recently at The Wi
ngs, developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016). The first batch of 50 flats atop Tseung Kwan O MTR station sold in October at an average HK$12,698 psf.

Two weeks later, SHKP introduced new batches averaging HK$8,118 psf - 36 percent cheaper.

Centaline Property co-founder Danny Wong Man-yin said this trend may signify that developers feel pessimistic over the market outlook.

"As developers are generally viewed as the smart money in the industry, their moves to cut prices may adversely impact the market confidence of secondary owners and buyers, as their action implies the outlook is negative," he said.

During good times, Wong noted, new apartments generally command prices about 30 percent higher than secondary homes in the same area. But now, the premium is only around 10 percent.

"If the developers felt optimistic about the market, why price the flats so low?" Wong said.

Woes in the primary market have a huge impact on secondary units.

"Buyers' attention has drifted to the primary market, as some new projects are priced close to the neighboring secondary flats," said Midland Realty vice chairman Albert Wong Kam-hong.

During the past four-day Christmas break, only 16 transactions were recorded among the city's 10 benchmark residential projects, compared with 67 deals last year, and 80 in 2009. Transactions on the previous weekend were even lower - at eight.

Danny Wong partly blames property price drops on the mainland's slumping export volume.

"Mainland exports are slowing down, and buying interest from the mainlanders has slowed dramatically due to the deteriorating economic outlook," he said. "It wouldn't be surprising to see some of them selling their properties in Hong Kong to cash out."

Mainland buyers have become a major force in the local housing market, accounting for about 30 percent of sales at some primary residential projects - up from only 2 percent in 2008.

"Thirty percent is a rather high level. I don't see it climbing further next year," said Eddie Hui Chi-man, deputy director of Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Research Centre for Construction and Real Estate Economics.

"Some of them might be affected by the decrease in exports. But don't forget there are home purchase limits in effect in the mainland property market. If they can't invest [there], they can only go to other places.

"Hong Kong would still be one of their most preferred areas to buy property."

Hui said the local property market will stabilize if China's economic growth can be maintained at 8 percent next year. He foresees housing prices here slipping 5 percent in 2012.

Most property experts predict price drops ranging from 10 to 20 percent next year. However, former UBS property analyst Franklin Lam Fan-keung - who is known for his bullish views - forecasts prices to rise by 15 percent instead, despite a 5 percent dip in the short term.

"Exports in Hong Kong are still weak, due to the debt issues in Europe," said Lam, founder of the think-tank HKGolden50. "That will put some pressure on property prices in the short run.

"However, it has a limited effect on the unemployment rate, which remains at a low level. Expansion of the workforce will drive the hike in residential demand. Along with the continual low interest rate environment, and the tight land supply, the property market next year should see healthy development."

Lam cautioned the government against changing its policies according to market conditions, suggesting instead that it make the market adapt to existing policies.

Earlier this month, Secretary for Housing and Transport Eva Cheng Yu- wah hinted that the administration may review the Special Stamp Duty before it hits the two-year anniversary mark.

But the next day, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen reiterated that he has no intention of removing the property cooling measures.
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Old January 11th, 2012, 03:54 AM   #1317
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Developers in clash over new housing sale rules
The Standard
Friday, January 06, 2012

Developers and surveyors clashed yesterday over exempting completed homes from rules the government is drafting on the sale of new residential properties.

The Real Estate Developers Association initially welcomed the draft.

But at a special meeting of the Legislative Council yesterday, it demanded the exemption, saying completed flats do not require the same detailed area description as units for presale before they are built.

"Completed flats allow buyers to have a clear look at what they are buying before they decide, whereas pre- sales do not," said association secretary general Louis Loong Hon-biu.

But surveyors disagreed.

"It does not make sense to omit them from regulations just because they can be physically viewed," said Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, a specialist in real estate development at City University of Hong Kong.

"There are simply too many details that would exist in firsthand flats that do not exist in secondary transactions."

At new projects, how well sales are going, prices of other flats and received reservations can all affect sentiment of buyers, Poon said. "But for secondary sales, it is a one-on-one situation and prices are negotiable."

The government proposed replacing gross floor area with saleable area as there is no standard definition of GFA.

"Buyers can't be well protected with prices laid out in GFA, which is defined differently with different developers," said Consumer Council vice chairman Ambrose Ho Pui-him.

But REDA demanded the standard be set before the legislation.

The council also warned about gray areas in the legislation.

"Developers can sell all the new flats to its subsidiary company to make them secondary, in order to avoid the regulations," Ho said.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 03:53 AM   #1318
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Galaxy quest
The Standard
Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's a rental show flat with a difference. The ceiling is just 1.5-meters high and the unit 18 square feet in size. But the would-be landlord proposes to charge HK$3,500 per month rent, which works out at HK$194 per square foot - more expensive than a luxury apartment in Repulse Bay.

Welcome to the world of capsule cubicles - a living concept popularized in Japan, a country of limited land resources. These urban guesthouses were created as short-term accommodation for suburban workers who, having missed the last train home, had to find inexpensive no-frills places to spend the night.

The typical daily rate for a capsule in Tokyo is 4,000 yen (HK$404).

Hotel equipment supplier Wong Wai-lun recently brought the idea to Hong Kong, designing and building 24 such capsule cubicles in a 1,000-sq-ft flat at Rockson Mansion, on Water Street in Sai Ying Pun. The location is within walking distance of the University of Hong Kong, from where he hopes to attract renters.

This "capsule dormitory" offers bed spaces, each equipped with air- conditioning, a lamp, television and computer desk. There is even free wi- fi and a study room in the common area.

The operator, Galaxy Stars (HK), started promoting the facilities on the internet two months ago, but has decided not to rent them out just yet.

After East Week magazine, a sister publication of The Standard, ran a five- page article on Wong's business idea last week, describing it as a completed dormitory, it caught the attention of the public - and government authorities.

A spokesman for the Home Affairs Department cited the Bedspace Apartments Ordinance, which requires any flat where there are 12 or more bed spaces to apply for a license from the Office of the Licensing Authority before commencing operations.

As for fire safety, the Fire Services Department said it will give advice to applicants in terms of architecture, structure and firefighting devices only when it receives orders from the licensing authority.

So far, the authority has received no application for a "capsule-like" guesthouse, or bedspace apartment.

To avoid having to comply with stringent, time-consuming and possibly costly regulations, Wong has turned the 24 capsules into a show flat only. But the company is still asking interested parties to pay a HK$1,750 deposit to get on a waiting list.

"Give me a deposit of a half-month's rent and we will put you on the waiting list for the dormitory," said the property agent listed on Galaxy's website.

"When you finally decide to move in, we will charge you three months' rent. We will later provide you space in a 10-capsule dormitory in another residential unit adjacent to HKU."

Accommodation for 10 people would circumvent the guesthouse licensing requirements.

The agent said men and women will occupy separate dormitories, which will be built only after the operator receives 15 applicants from each sex. So far, eight females and five males have applied.

The HK$1,750 deposit is nonrefundable if an applicant changes his or her mind, the agent said.

Although loathed as a "glorified coffin" by netizens, capsule bedspaces hold a competitive edge in that they rent for only HK$3,500 per month, including utility charges. In comparison, it costs HK$9,000 to HK$10,000 to rent a 400-sq-ft flat in private housing in Sai Ying Pun.

HKU's insufficient accommodation has been swamped with mainland students in recent years.

"It is so hard for us to apply for a dormitory in the university," said Pinky, a Hongkonger who is interested in the capsule.

She currently lives in Tuen Mun and needs to spend about HK$40 per day for transportation, with a two-hour commute each way.

"More mainland students are competing with us for dormitory space," Pinky said. "The school is so strict on applications, requiring high scores and a good interview."

According to HKU data, 3,849 units were offered during the 2011-12 academic year, while the number of applications exceeded 5,500. For the 1,600-plus students who failed to secure the HK$2,258-a-month dorms, the only option is to rent off-campus, with nearby Sai Ying Pun among the top choices.

But the district's rental market has been strained in recent years due to the huge demand from students, as well as redevelopment in the region.

A proposed MTR station in the district also makes the property projects there more expensive.

"This is just a trial unit in the student market," said Wong, who is optimistic about the outlook for his capsule cubicles. "Hong Kong is facing a shortage of hotels and my project will be popular among backpackers."

He also said his capsules will have no problems meeting safety standards, as the master flat is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system, and there are two emergency exits. Smoking is prohibited, with a smoke detector installed in each capsule.

Wong said he is licensed by the Education Department to provide tutoring services to the study room in the unit.

But Midland Realty sales director Patrick Fung Kim-chiu remains skeptical. "I don't think such an idea can sustain for long, especially for students who are just curious about new trends," he said.

Meanwhile, other students said the tiny capsules are expensive and they prefer to share a regular HK$9,000 flat with three or four friends.
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Old January 14th, 2012, 05:53 AM   #1319
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Leung aide feels Tang slap at URA 'impractical flats'
The Standard
Friday, January 13, 2012

Chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen has criticized the Urban Renewal Authority for constructing "impractical luxury flats" and selling them at "sky-high prices."

The URA is chaired by Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, who is also the election campaign office chairman of rival Leung Chun-ying.

Speaking after a visit to a Yau Tong industrial site, Tang said: "I do not support that the URA is constructing buildings that are flashy and without substance as well as extravagantly expensive. The URA can reconsider the direction of its responsibility." He believes that after the URA resumes and demolishes buildings, the government should decide what to do with the land.

For example, it may be used for more Home Ownership Scheme flats or public housing.

Tang believes the scope of the URA should also be extended to industrial buildings.

Cheung said he would not comment on Tang's remarks but stressed that the URA has done a lot of work in renovating old districts.

The government also recognized the role of the URA.

A URA spokesman said the cost of flats is based on the market price. No one will buy if prices are set too high, and they will encourage speculation if set too low.

"The URA does not make a profit for itself. All the profits made are allocated to other projects."

Separately, when announcing his latest policy platform at his election office in Central, Leung proposed the establishment of a financial authority apart from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. He suggested that a financial development council be set up.

This immediately drew fire from former Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, an adviser to Tang, who warned of economic instability.

"The council would not replace the existing HKMA," said Leung, adding that the idea of a council is something akin to a statutory or public body such as the Trade Development Council or the Tourism Board.

Leung also proposed reviewing the Hospital Authority over management, working hours, cost benefits and service levels. "It has 20 years' history and there have been lot of changes in service level, scope of services, and society has changed too," he said.
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Old January 14th, 2012, 09:52 AM   #1320
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DEVB's statement on Urban Renewal Authority's work
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Government Press Release

In response to media enquiries on the work of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), a spokesman for the Development Bureau said today (January 12) that the URA, as a statutory body, had all along adhered to the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance and the Urban Renewal Strategy in pursuing its work.

The Urban Renewal Strategy is a Government strategy. The Secretary for Development, after consulting the public, may prepare from time to time an urban renewal strategy. Following the promulgation of the new Urban Renewal Strategy by the Government in February last year, the URA has swiftly devised concrete implementation measures, including the "flat for flat" scheme, as well as the new "facilitator" scheme and "demand-led" scheme for urban renewal.
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