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Old January 15th, 2012, 05:26 AM   #1321
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When it comes to environment SAR passes tests
The Standard
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rigorous testing procedures, state-of-the-art facilities and a robust accreditation system have put Hong Kong on the world map of environmental testing, according to a specialist.

"Hong Kong's best assets [in the industry] are our top-notch testing services that meet international standards and our large pool of highly trained specialists," said Richard Fung Lim-chee, general manager of ALS Technichem (Hong Kong).

The private laboratory uses various methods to analyze soil, water and air samples, and provides a testing service to industry and government agencies in the region.

Employing these services allows them to make informed decisions for environmental and construction projects.

Left undetected, toxic metals and organic pollutants could cause "unremitting damage" to the ecological system, Fung said.

And they can lead to serious illnesses among those living in the contaminated area.

Environmental protection, an emerging area that holds tremendous potential for the local testing and certification industry, is one of six industries the government has strived to develop since 2009. The territory now has about 700 industry-related companies that employ around 15,000 workers.

A spokesman for the Innovation and Technology Commission cited a robust accreditation system as a big reason for the industry's established international reputation.

He said it is a result of "tests, calibrations, certifications and inspections provided by the commission's accredited service providers."

Past and current projects of ALS Technichem include analyzing environmental samples at the former Kai Tak airport, Hong Kong Disneyland and the area under the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which is due for completion in 2016.

A media tour of its laboratory showcased various tests being conducted by local scientists.

Samples are put through chemical tests to detect toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants. If necessary, the samples then undergo biological testing to measure their toxicity levels.

Each sample takes about six to eight weeks to be processed.

"We have many different stages of testing and strict protocols, so there is almost no chance that a dangerous pollutant can be left undetected," laboratory manager Godfrey Chan Kwok-fai said.
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Old January 16th, 2012, 03:12 AM   #1322
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Cheung Kong to slick up Oil Street with hotel, flats
The Standard
Monday, January 16, 2012



Cheung Kong (Holdings) (0001) is planning an 800-room hotel and a 400-unit luxury residential project on Oil Street in North Point.

It is awaiting Town Planning Board approval that will see seven towers, each more than 100 meters tall, erected on the 84,898-square-foot site with one of them designated for a 39-story hotel.

The remaining towers of between 35 and 38 stories will, Cheung Kong said, be designed for hotels and apartments.

Residential units will have an average size of 1,110 sq ft.

The buildings would offer a total gross floor area of 755,600 sq ft. Of that, 322,900 sq ft will be for hotel purposes, and 432,700 sq ft for apartments.

There are also plans to include 75,350 sq ft of public space. Construction is set for completion by 2017.

"With only around three meters of ceiling height on average, it would be a challenge for the developer to make the hotel rooms look spacious, especially when it is likely to be a five-star one," said Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, Cushman & Wakefield national director for valuation and advisory services.

He said five-star hotels usually have ceiling heights of more than four meters.

Charles Chan Chiu-kwok, managing director of Savills Valuation and Professional Services (Greater China) said the flats would be in demand.

"The residential portion shouldn't have too much impact on the market in the locality. The area should be able to absorb all 400 units since demand of flats on Hong Kong Island is still high."

Chan estimates the cost of developing the residential towers at HK$3,000 psf, while that for the hotel tower will come in between HK$4,000 and HK$5,000 psf.

In August, the developer won the tender for the site, having bid HK$6.27 billion, or HK$8,294 per buildable sq ft.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 07:25 AM   #1323
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Surveyors urge plot-size cuts to help small developers
The Standard
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A leading surveyors' group has called on the government to downsize some development projects to give more small and medium-sized developers a better chance to compete.

The comments from the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors come after a Tsuen Wan site estimated at HK$7.3 billion was withdrawn by the MTR because bids were low. An adjoining plot was sold to Chinachem for HK$2.6 billion last Thursday.

"When project costs are often HK$2 billion to HK$3 billion, how many developers in Hong Kong can actually afford to invest? That's one of the reasons why we are seeing major developers dominate the property market now," said Raymond Chan Yuk-ming, planning and development division chairman.

Chan said competition should be encouraged. "When large projects are chopped into pieces, total consideration for investment would be smaller, to only around HK$3 billion to HK$5 billion. That will attract competition from smaller developers, too."

As for the general market, the institute said there is little visibility. "It would not be a surprise if withdrawals happen again. Sites sold by tenders are likely to be lower than market expectations," said Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, chairman of the housing policy panel of the institute. Poon expects more sites will be put to tender this year.

"There is a chance that a site could fetch a higher price at a tender," he said, noting that developers are likely to submit higher bids if they are truly eager to grab a particular site.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 09:48 AM   #1324
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More hotels in offing but room shortage still feared
The Standard
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hong Kong will have another 49 hotels - or 9,000 additional rooms - in four years. But this may still not be enough, with the tourism chief suggesting the renovation of industrial buildings to keep pace with visitor growth.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam- leung said yesterday he expects there will be 238 hotels in the city by 2016 - 49 more than at present, with 16 of them coming on line this year.

He said the number of hotel rooms will climb to 71,340 by that time - 9,000 more than now.

However, tourism commissioner Philip Yung Wai-hung hinted that this may still not be enough though it is hard to plan ahead since the government only releases land for hotel use on a year-to- year basis in line with tourism growth. Last year, plots in Sai Kung and Hung Hom were earmarked for such use.

"I think we can also make use of renovated industrial buildings to increase the supply of accommodation for tourists," Yung said.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board said last week that a record 42 million tourists visited the SAR last year, up 16.5 percent from 2010, with mainlanders accounting for 67 percent of the tourist arrivals.

Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun said he expects tourist arrivals to grow 5.5 percent this year over 2011.

Yung said the government will need to improve the capacity of immigration counters to prepare for more mainland visitors coming to Hong Kong.

He also said the Travel Industry Council has told travel agencies in the mainland that they need to ensure the accommodation is confirmed before sending tours to the SAR.

One way to ease the burden on Hong Kong hotels is to encourage more mainland tourists to take one-day trips, Yung said.

The commissioner also said the government hopes Hong Kong Disneyland will have new attractions from time to time to draw more tourists.

The park earlier revealed it has been in talks with the government over a further expansion, although it stressed nothing has been confirmed.

So also shed some light on several other issues, saying the government has submitted the applications for three free- to-air channels to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and the Executive Council, but he cannot reveal more details because of confidentiality.
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Old January 28th, 2012, 03:06 AM   #1325
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Old quarry grows green
The Standard
Thursday, January 26, 2012





Gray granite has been transformed into green for 35,000 residents of Kwun Tong District - but not without great challenges.

Converting a former quarry into a public park involved great efforts in design and development.

Choi Hei Road Park opened in August 2010, but residents of two neighboring estates, which it serves, did not start moving in until April last year.

"We have made great efforts in landscape design as well as drainage and sewerage works," Deputy Director of Housing Ada Fung Yin-suen said. "The construction and demolition of the original site was kept at a minimal level to keep its soil and bedrock."

The quarry in Jordan Valley, Ngau Tau Kok, ended rock extraction in 1976. Now the park provides greenery for 17 public estates, including Choi Ying, Choi Tak and Choi Fook estates.

With an area of about 13,560 square meters, the park has a theme garden with a meandering walking trail and sitting-out facilities, a children's play area, an elderly fitness area, a tai chi garden and a foot massage path.

With little natural vegetation, Fung said the project was challenging to architects. Landscape architect Chan Hon-wing said the main challenge was to produce a design with environmental, social-behavioral and aesthetic features.

Designs were made to conserve the natural granite as well as transplant trees.

"The design theme of a geopark was adopted to conserve the natural granite, which is a rock type commonly found in Hong Kong," Chan said.

Indigenous granite specimens and information boards are displayed along the walking trail to help visitors get a better understanding of geo- conservation and geology. The project includes 91 mature trees.

"Trees and shrub planting have been provided along the periphery of the park, offering shade and amenity areas for visitors," Chan said.

In addition, the design of the park's public lavatories made use of natural lighting and ventilation to reduce energy consumption.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 08:58 AM   #1326
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Visitors pay for squeeze in rooms
The Standard
Thursday, January 19, 2012

A drawcard for visitors from across the seas and across the border, Hong Kong is also an expensive destination. Lodging in particular, is costly - whether it be a backpacker hostel or luxury room with brandname toiletries and walk-in closets.

A hotel room cost more than HK$1,300 a night last year on average, according to industry data released on Tuesday. Rates have increased at a double-digit pace.

Of the 41.9 million visitors last year, more than half were from across the border and they too put up with the high prices and stayed the night in available rooms. On average, more than 260,000 visitors stayed the night last year. And Hong Kong has only 62,655 hotel rooms, whether during peak periods such as the summer holidays or other holidays including Christmas and Lunar New Year.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board projects that the average traveler will spend 3.5 nights this year.

A shortage of rooms may discourage business travelers as well. Arrivals for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, or MICE, increased by 10 percent last year to 1.5 million, trailing the government forecast of 12 percent growth.

Tourism board executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon said the shortage of hotel rooms will hinder the growth of high-spending travelers.

Chairman James Tien Pei-chun added: "Room rates are like 'seafood price' [fluctuating vigorously], and even hotels far away from the city center are constantly full. That would look unwelcoming to visitors."

Hotel rooms were 88 percent full last year, leveling with historic highs of 1996, according to the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners.

The hoteliers this week said that average hotel room rate was HK$1,343 last year, up 19 percent from a year earlier. It was a record high. That compares with a 6 percent drop in Asia in the first half last year, a survey by Hotels.com shows.

Room rates surged late last year, rising even higher at peak holiday periods, Tien said.

Some three-star hotels charge well over HK$2,000 for a room, while rates at top-tier luxury hotels including The Peninsula and Four Seasons may reach HK$5,000-plus a night. Even "love hotels," which usually only rent by the hour, charge HK$1,800 for an overnight stay.

Not everyone's wallet is lighter after a stay in Hong Kong, though. Backpackers, especially young visitors, cram into youth hostels - some for the experience of being with like-minded individuals and others to save money.

But while rates at hostels range from HK$150 to HK$200 for a bunk bed and HK$350 to HK$600 for a double room, travelers may end up paying HK$1,000- plus a night during busy months.

Budget travelers may also consider guesthouses with nothing except a bed and hot water. Most are in city centers, with convenient access to public transport.

There are others in less pleasant environs. Sincere House in Mong Kok, for example, has numerous budget guest houses. In some places, broken toilets or soiled linen are not unheard of.

Some travelers may instead opt for more comfortable lodgings in Macau or Shenzhen, and shorten their stay in Hong Kong.

But wherever they choose, they will have to secure them well in advance.

This year, though, there may be fewer visitors and there may be a little less demand for lodgings. The tourism board has made a "conservative" forecast of 5.5 percent growth in visitor arrivals this year, while the number of MICE travelers is forecast to increase by 11 percent.

As visitor numbers increased last year, complaints about the quality of the accommodation also grew. Reacting to the concerns, Tien has repeatedly urged the government to boost the supply of land for hotels.

This week Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said the government may consider renovation of industrial buildings.

The government sold three hotel plots this fiscal year to provide about 1,500 rooms.

Michael Li Hon-shing, executive director of hotel owners' federation, has rejected Tien's suggestions of room shortages. "There are some times of the year [about four months] that rooms are tight, but you can't say there are not enough hotels by just that."

As many as 8,000 new hotel rooms are in the pipeline through 2013. But Li admits there is a need for more lower-tier hotels in the long run.

In the meantime, leading hotel groups are hardly rushing to add sites to their portfolios.

Shangri-La Asia (0069) acquired a hotel plot in Hung Hom Bay last month for HK$2.3 billion, or HK$3,461 per square foot. An analyst said it was a low price and wondered: "Why didn't the government just withdraw the tender?"

In November, Ocean Park said it could not attract qualified bidders for its two proposed hotels, scheduled to open by 2013 and 2015, having extending a tender for half a year.

Before the government resumed regular land auctions, there have been "hotel only" sites available on the application list, but none of them has been triggered for sale other than one site in Sai Kung last year.

Alfred Lau, a property analyst at Bank of Communications International, said that while there had been a shortage of land for hotels some mid-sized developers have acquired whole commercial buildings.

Lau said the government should increase supply of smaller plots for three- to four-star hotels to accommodate more visitors from the mainland.
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Old January 31st, 2012, 03:31 AM   #1327
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Sino Land set to put another 1,200 new homes on market
The Standard
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sino Land (0083) is planning to market more than 1,200 homes at three new projects this year.

The homes - sized from 200 to 2,000 square feet - will range from studio flats to some large specialty units.

Baker Residences in Hung Hom is likely to be put out as completed flats within the first quarter. The 22,357-sq- ft residential gross floor area will house 68 studio flats, ranging from 200-300 sq ft. Another two projects in West Kowloon and Tai Po will be launched later in the year.

The West Kowloon project at Beech Street and Ivy Street is a redevelopment project with the Urban Renewal Authority. With 187,939 sq ft of residential gross floor area, it is expected to provide 460 units sized between 300-2,000 sq ft.

Phase 2 and 3 of Providence Bay in Tai Po will consist of 740 units. The project will have a mix of one- to four- bedrooms flats, ranging from 800-3,000 sq ft. Detached houses in the project may be as large as 3,600 sq ft.

"As mortgage rates will stay low for some time, we are quite positive on the property market this year as it is also supported by huge demand of end- users," said Victor Tin Siu-yuen, general manager of sales at Sino Land.

As for projects currently on the market, the firm said it had generated around HK$13.8 billion from selling flats at three developments.

It has sold around 640 out of 740 flats at The Coronation in West Kowloon, generating HK$7 billion. About 92 out of 120 flats at One Mayfair in Kowloon Tong have been offloaded for HK$3.3 billion, and another HK$3.5 billion has come from selling 170 out of 480 units at phase one of Providence Bay.

Meanwhile, Cushman and Wakefield said local flat prices face stiff pressure this year as global economic uncertainties are unlikely to fade away soon.

Mass market property prices may drop by 10-15 percent while luxury projects - those that cost more than HK$30 million - may fall by 5-10 percent, the real-estate consultant predicted.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 04:41 PM   #1328
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Urgent call for budget funds to redevelop aging hospitals
The Standard
Monday, January 30, 2012

Cash should be put aside to redevelop two leading public hospitals that have come under fire for their poor conditions.

That's the view of Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk who hopes plans for the rebuilding of Queen Mary and Kwong Wah hospitals will be announced in the budget on Wednesday.

"We are hoping for good news in the new budget as redevelopment projects at both hospitals will serve to raise the quality of medical service, and allow health-care workers to operate in a better environment," Wu said.

His comments came a week after the head of surgery at Queen Mary Hospital, Lo Chung-mau, criticized operating theaters in the old wings of the Pok Fu Lam hospital as being "worse than those of Third World countries."

Lo described how medical equipment will often fall apart when operations are being carried out.

There have been repeated complaints from doctors that facilities at both hospitals are decades behind standards of modern counterparts.

According to Wu, Queen Mary and Kwong Wah, being more than 70 and 100 years old respectively, are in urgent need of a revamp. He added that as the rate of admissions to public hospitals is high, medical facilities fall into disrepair faster than normal.

This calls for frequent repair and maintenance work.

Expenditure on these works at Queen Mary and Kwong Wah is about HK$36 million and HK$18 million, respectively.

Wu is also hoping that Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah will announce financial help in his budget.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen said in the Legislative Council last week that he has a particular interest towards redevelopment plans for both hospitals, and is sure that the financial secretary will consider his and other members' views when tabling the budget.

But the chief executive stressed that there are other factors than money involved when starting hospital improvement efforts.

For example, an old building such as Queen Mary Hospital needs to be preserved rather than renovated.

There also needs to be sufficient manpower for any redevelopment projects, he added.
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 05:08 AM   #1329
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Old February 3rd, 2012, 08:22 AM   #1330
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New homes target set at 30,000 units
The Standard
Thursday, February 02, 2012

Land supply will be raised to build 30,000 private residential flats in the upcoming fiscal year, the government pledged yesterday.

John Tsang also announced that 47 residential sites being added to the application list will aim to provide 13,500 units.

"Our policies already in place have been effective," Tsang said, adding residential prices have fallen 5 percent since last June.

But the proposed supply is below what was outlined in the previous budget, which offered 52 sites providing up to 16,000 units.

Land sales in the 2012-2013 fiscal year could generate HK$60 billion versus HK$83.1 billion in the previous year.

New supply will mainly come from four projects along the West Rail, another three owned by MTR Corp (0066), and redevelopment projects of the Urban Renewal Authority.

Two other projects, above the West Rail Kam Sheung Road Station and Pat Heung Depot, will provide 8,700 units. Government sources said tenders would be called for the two sites, meant for small flats.

Real Estate Developers Association executive committee chairman Stewart Leung Chi-kin said the government should figure out the market appetite for land supply before releasing new sites.

"With high land price comes high flat prices, that's the very basic rule of thumb for developers. The government needs to consider whether developers would be able to keep buying."

He also urged the government to lower the reserve prices so that it will not have to withdraw sites when there are no takers.

But a government source rejected the contention that land prices are set at high levels.

Bricks & Mortar property analyst Eric Wong Chun-ya questioned the proposed 30,000 units goal.

"Right now, the market has a land inventory of 60,000 units - from empty sold sites to developed sites where flats are not yet sold. That is too little to provide 20,000 units per year."

An inventory of at least 100,000 units is needed to meet the goal, he estimated.

As for subsidized housing, the Housing Authority will consult district councils on six sites for new Home Ownership Scheme flats in Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing and Yuen Long.

On the commercial front, the URA will be responsible for revitalizing old industrial areas for residential or commercial use.

Bernard Lim Wan-fung, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design, said the expansion of URA's portfolio bodes well for urban development as old industrial areas are prime sources of land.

URA will launch a pilot scheme to redevelop industrial buildings this year.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 04:59 PM   #1331
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Cutting up sites to level playing field
The Standard
Friday, February 03, 2012

Large residential sites will be divided into smaller parcels in an attempt to attract small and medium- sized developers to compete with heavyweights.

To start off, four large sites - with a combined area of 1.829 million square feet in Tseung Kwan O, Tuen Mun and Tai Po - have been split into eight smaller sites, the government said yesterday.

"We believe the availability of smaller sites for sale would enhance market competition, particularly in the current situation," said Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

"We will continue to apply this to other suitable sites without compromising the planning intent."

The 398,265-sq-ft site at Tseung Kwan O area 68A could provide one plot of 229,336 sq ft and another of 171,889 sq ft.

Seven of eight sites that will be split into smaller parcels are included on the new application list.

In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, 24 residential sites and one commercial plot have been added to the application list, taking the total to 47.

Stewart Leung Chi-kin, chairman of the Real Estate Developers Association executive committee, welcomed the idea, saying policy is being adapted to meet popular demand in the market.

Lai Yu-chung, project planning manager of Billion Development and Project Management, a small developer, said: "A smaller lump sum for a plot is of course attractive, but it would not be the sole consideration for us in buying land. Joint ventures are often seen among developers anyway."

Serena Lau Sze-wan, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, said the idea would "not have too much effect on land prices."

For the first time, two residential sites at Kai Tak were included on the application list.

"Residential demand in the area is very likely to surge," said Amy Teo of Sun Hung Kai.
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Old February 5th, 2012, 05:55 PM   #1332
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Tai Yuen Street / Cross Street Redevelopment, Wan Chai

2/5





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Old February 6th, 2012, 04:32 PM   #1333
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More to bottom lines than cash
The Standard
Thursday, February 02, 2012



The cinema at Times Square is being converted into retail space, triggering a bidding war among brand-name shops for leases.

The enthusiasm of potential tenants has apparently not been affected by concerns that tightened mainland money supply might impact the high-end consumer market.

Like all companies that understand the importance of establishing a firm foothold to capture a piece of the lucrative China market, European luxury brands aren't just looking at short-term factors.

I'm told one of the brand-name bidders is particularly keen, as it doesn't yet have a sizable flagship storefront here.

Meanwhile, retail properties on the other side of the harbor are doing just as well.

As no more sizable shops are available at Harbour City on Canton Road, the value and rental levels of premises in the vicinity are skyrocketing.

I heard that a watch shop there has just renewed its lease at three times the original rent. While that was said to be on the low side, a threefold increase is still staggering.

As if this isn't shocking enough, there is street talk that an owner who put his shop up for sale last year at HK$1 million per square foot has just rejected an offer.

The reasons: he's no longer urgently in need of cash, and has decided to boost the asking price to HK$1.3 million psf.

While a square foot price of seven digits is prohibitive, shop space on Canton Road will always remain in great demand, as brand-name outlets all want to establish a presence in the "Shoppers' Mecca."

With retailers shelling out astronomical rents to operate there, it's understandable that they will do everything they consider necessary to protect business.

The recent photo saga at one of the shops there that made international headlines is a case of such a mentality going to the extreme.

The painful incident should teach everyone a lesson - no matter how much you're paying to run your business, there are certain bottom lines you just can't cross.

Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily
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Old February 8th, 2012, 07:42 AM   #1334
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Market awaits 5,470 new flats
The Standard
Friday, January 27, 2012

As many as 5,470 new units from a dozen property projects will likely come on the market following next week's budget.

The 12 developments are in Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, Che Kung Temple, Ma On Shan, Fan Ling, Discovery Bay, Sai Wan, Hung Hom, Tai Hang Road, Ma Wan and Kowloon Shing.

The highest number of flats, 1,720, will come from the TW7 development near Tsuen Wan West MTR station, jointly developed by Cheung Kong (Holdings) (0001), Nan Fung Development, and MTR Corp (0066). These will be two-to-four bedroom units sized between 660 and 2,000 square feet.

Cheung Kong has hinted prices will be comparable to those at Festival City in Tai Wai - now costing between HK$7,900 and HK$8,300 psf.

Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) and MTRC are also expected to release flats from the project atop Tuen Mun MTR station, providing 1,100 units. A market source expects the flats to be priced between HK$6,000 and HK$8,000 psf.

SHKP is also set to launch phase six of Park Island in Ma Wan soon, as presale consent has been received. It will provide 65 three-to-four bedroom units, sized between 1,200 and 2,200 sq ft.

New World Development (0017), Wheelock & Co (0020) and Sino Land (0083) will also launch new homes.

Meanwhile, Kerry Properties (0683) said it has pocketed HK$70.06 million by selling two flats at The Altitude in Happy Valley.

The buyers are Dragon Era Holdings and Soaring Dragon Holdings owned by brother and sister-in-law of Kerry Properties' chairman Kuok Khoon Chen.

Last month, the developer sold two flats and two parking spaces at The Altitude to its sister firm, Kerry Trading Co, for HK$94.83 million. Kerry shares rose 3.81 percent to HK$30 yesterday.
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Old February 9th, 2012, 05:41 PM   #1335
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Stance softens on sites for small flats
The Standard
Thursday, February 09, 2012

The government may have softened its approach to boosting the supply of small and medium flats.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a radio interview that the government may release fewer residential sites with stipulations on the size and number of flats to be built.

"The Home Ownership Scheme as well as projects along the MTR stations and redevelopment projects by the Urban Renewal Authority will provide small and medium flats in the near term," Lam said.

"As these flats will help meet the demand, it may not be necessary to attach flat-size stipulations for the sites meant for private development projects."

But, she added, flat-number stipulations will still be attached to some plots, such as four of the five sites to be sold from April to June this year.

Her remarks were in contrast to those made by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in his budget.

He said the government will "follow the practice of announcing land sale programs in advance on a quarterly basis, and stipulate flat-number or flat-size restrictions in land sales in the light of market conditions and the characteristics of individual sites."

Last month, the Bayside project near the Tsuen Wan MTR station was withdrawn from sale by the MTRC.

The project could have provided 2,384 units in nine buildings. But the conditions required that 52 percent of the flats must have a salable area of less than 538 square feet.

Developers have criticized conditions relating to the size or flat numbers.

Victor Cha Mou-zing, managing director of HKR International, described the conditions as "over-interference."

He added: "The government already has the tools to regulate home supply... and these restrictions hinder developers from using their experience to release the potential of the land parcels."
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Old February 11th, 2012, 05:57 AM   #1336
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Central drawcard
The Standard

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Developers' confidence in the property market does not appear to have been affected by new land supply announced by the government last week. Many of the firms are keen to shore up their land bank judging by the interest in an Urban Renewal Authority development in an area near the Central district where historical features abound.

By Friday, 18 developers had expressed interest in a site on Peel Street and Graham Street in Sheung Wan. Seven developers also submitted tenders for a site at So Kwun Wat in Tuen Mun.

Both plots were released a day after the government revealed 47 sites on the application list for fiscal year 2012-13.

Cheung Kong (Holdings) (0001), Kerry Properties (0638), Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), Henderson Land (0012), Emperor International (0163), New World Development (0017), China Overseas Land and Development (0688) and Asia Standard International (0129) all expressed interest in the URA site.

Kerry Properties and Emperor International said they plan to develop the site by themselves.

The authority will invite tenders from developers once a short list has been drawn.

The site is one of three pieces of land forming a bigger redevelopment masterplan along Gage Street.

The 18,191-square-foot site - the middle one of the three - is the first to be put to market.

It has a gross floor area of 191,492 sq ft and could provide 177 flats and 32,000 sq ft of retail space for fresh food.

Unlike at previous authority projects, there are no conditions attached to the site.

Old buildings on the site have been demolished. The other two sites in the plan are likely to be completed by 2021.

The entire development - with a site area of more than 57,000 sq ft and estimated to provide 737,683 sq ft of gross floor area - will have a mix of residential, commercial, office, hotel and community space.

It will be able to provide 300 homes.

The project involves 37 existing old buildings, four of which are prewar structures.

Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tsz-pun said the site offered new residential supply near the core business district in Central. "Plus, there are quite a lot of shops and restaurants nearby, which would add high value to the retail space."

Lam estimates the plot will fetch HK$1.72 billion, or HK$9,000 per buildable sq ft.

The market expects between HK$1.53 billion and HK$2.87 billion, or HK$8,010-HK$15,000 per buildable sq ft.

There are few residential units in the area. The closest new project on the market is CentrePoint at Staunton Street and Chung Wo Lane, which is two blocks from the URA project.

Some flats at CentrePoint have yet to be sold by the developer, Henderson Land. New units cost HK$19,758 per sq ft on average. Buyers have put some flats on the secondary market.

The owner of a 486-sq-ft flat on an upper floor intends to sell for HK$9.3 million, or HK$19,136 psf.

The same owner is also interested in leasing the apartment for HK$51 psf per month.

Century 21 chief operating officer Chan Tung-ngok believes the site will attract "conservative" tenders from developers. He predicts bids ranging from HK$1.53 billion to HK$1.91 billion, or HK$8,000 to HK$9,000 per buildable sq ft.

Chan Cheung-kit, a director at Lanbase Surveyors, said some small and medium-sized developers would be attracted because of the site area and absence of any conditions related to flats that may be built.
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Old February 13th, 2012, 03:35 AM   #1337
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Rich flats look inviting to migrants
The Standard
Monday, February 13, 2012

About 100 seniors, mainly professionals and some migrants, have expressed a wish to retire at luxury homes provided by the Housing Society.

The new "Joyous Living" projects at Tanner Hill in North Point and Wetland Park Road in Tin Shui Wai provide a viable option for the more affluent of the territory's 1.5 million seniors despite criticism about their prices, chairman Yeung Ka-sing said.

Michael Cheng, now living in Santa Barbara, California, told The Standard he is interested in the scheme.

"My wife and I have been living in the United States for the past 40 years and are approaching retirement age," he said. "We would like to retire in Hong Kong, and we have recently received our Hong Kong residency cards."

Cheng said he is keen to proceed with the application procedure.

"Please advise on how we may be able to resolve our housing needs without having to pay tens of millions in the open market."

Yeung said the society has yet to decide on the eligibility criteria for such homes, which do not receive subsidy from public funds.

But there will be no restriction on Hong Kong migrants returning home from overseas.

"Those who decide to return to spend a happier retirement here may, of course, prefer to hire suitable private accommodation and get a domestic helper to look after them," Yeung said.

"But I can assure you that domestic helpers alone will not be able to provide what we can, such as a well set up medical center with professional nursing care workers, nutritionists and more."

He said rents are not that expensive - averaging HK$10,000 a month for a period of 20-25 years.

Joyous Living projects will offer 1,538 homes with demonstration units and price lists open in 2014.

The society will also utilize the refund mechanism of the Senior Citizen Residences Scheme so that those who want to move out halfway through their contract will receive a lump sum refund of between 10-70 percent, Yeung said.
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Old February 14th, 2012, 05:35 AM   #1338
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Hospitals in makeover line
The Standard
Thursday, February 02, 2012

Kwong Wah Hospital is to have a new day-care center and non-radioactive cancer treatment facilities under an HK$8 billion redevelopment project to be completed over the next eight years, a top executive said.

Tung Wah Group chairman Charles Chang Juo-hwa also said the redevelopment will strengthen the hospital's Chinese and Western medicine shared- care services, including the Chinese medicine in-patient service.

This came as John Tsang announced funding of HK$2.2 billion for clinic and hospital projects in the next fiscal year.

The two-phase Kwong Wah project will involve reconstruction of six of its seven buildings and a new 20-story block to house the new services. Only the Tsui Tsin Tong Outpatient Building, built in the late 1990s, will remain untouched.

Hospital chief executive Nelson Wat Ming-sun said adequate measures will be taken to avoid inconvenience to patients during the redevelopment.

"We will endeavor to communicate well with the district council, community and the other hospitals in the Kowloon West Cluster to rearrange and reallocate the patients we serve," he said.

Accident and emergency services will not be affected, Wat added.

The Kowloon West Cluster serves 1.9 million people and also includes the Princess Margaret and Yan Chai hospitals.

Meanwhile, Queen Mary Hospital will offer beefed-up emergency and cardiac services at the end of a HK$7 billion expansion plan to be completed in 2025.

Construction will take place in four phases, the first of which will involve demolishing the auxiliary medical warehouse and widening roads.

Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk welcomed the budget and the funding for reconstructing the two hospitals, but estimated the makeover to take 10 years.

"The two hospitals have their own construction obstacles," Wu said.

"Queen Mary is located in a hilly area and many of its buildings are under statutory protection, while Kwong Wah has to ensure its services are not affected, considering its large flow of patients." The HK$2.2 billion pledged to the health sector by Tsang includes the expansion of the United Christian Hospital and the redevelopment of the Yan Chai, Kwong Wah and Queen Mary hospitals.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 01:18 PM   #1339
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Developers rushing fresh supply to primary market
The Standard
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

At least 56 new homes will be available for sale on Friday at the earliest.

Wheelock & Co (0020) released 51 of 103 flats at Lexington Hill in Sai Wan yesterday. The first batch of 30, sized between 785 and 1,004 square feet, will be priced at about HK$11,039 per square foot.

This is closer to the lower end of the range of HK$11,000-HK$15,000 that the developer hinted at earlier.

The second and third batches - a total of 21 flats - will cost HK$11,688 psf and HK$14,697 psf, respectively. Flat sizes of these two batches also range from 785 to 1,004 sq ft.

Wheelock is targeting HK$1.4 billion to HK$1.5 billion from the sale of all 103 homes.

Neighboring homes are priced at between HK$6,500 and HK$8,600 psf.

Henderson Land (0012) also priced five of its detached houses at La Verte in Fan Ling at an average HK$8,888 per sq ft. That is 11 percent lower than HK$10,000 psf the developer hinted at earlier. The project provides 16 detached houses. Similar houses in the area sell for between HK$4,000 and HK$14,000 psf.

As for the secondary market, buyers are becoming more aggressive.

More than 60 potential buyers lined up to view a flat at Telford Gardens in Kowloon Bay yesterday. The 418-sq-ft flat was sold for HK$2.7 million, or HK$6,459 psf, within an hour of being viewed.

As sentiment improved in the market, shares of sector heavyweights surged.

Cheung Kong (Holdings) (0001) gained 3.31 percent to HK$109.10, while Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) rose 3.55 percent to HK$113.8. Henderson Land was also up 6 percent to HK$45.4. In other action, the Urban Renewal Authority said it plans to make acquisition offers to the 108 properties that will be affected by the redevelopment projects at Pak Tai Street and San Shan Road in To Kwa Wan.

The owners or occupiers will be offered HK$8,939 psf for saleable area. They will have 60 days to decide whether to accept the offer.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 01:21 PM   #1340
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LCQ15: Treatment of sewage and rainwater
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (February 15):

Question:

At present, the Drainage Services Department is responsible for the sewage and stormwater treatment and drainage systems in Hong Kong. The stormwater drainage system is mainly used for flood prevention and for coping with floods caused by heavy rainstorms, and stormwater is basically untreated before it is discharged into the sea directly. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number and contents of the complaints received by the authorities in the past three years about the hygiene problems brought by the outfalls and gullies of the stormwater collection system, as well as the solutions provided by the authorities; whether the authorities have conducted any study or used any new technology to improve the relevant hygienic conditions;

(b) given that it is possible that the sewage produced in our daily lives may be discharged into the stormwater collection system directly (e.g. the sewage produced from street cleaning, especially during the dry seasons when there is not enough rainwater to dilute the sewage before it is discharged into the sea directly), thereby polluting the coastal water in the vicinity of outfalls and giving out foul odour, whether the authorities have, in the past, conducted water quality tests on the sewage discharged through the stormwater collection system or the coastal water in the vicinity of the outfalls at different times in each year; if they have, of the test results in the past three years (including the impacts of seasonal factors, etc.); if not, the reasons for that;

(c) whether the authorities have examined or considered applying the technologies (including connecting all or some of the stormwater drains to the sewage drainage system and putting in place a switching system that allows the connection of stormwater drains to the sewage drainage system) used in the stormwater collection systems in other places, so as to reduce water pollution caused by the direct discharge of stormwater; if not, of the reasons for that; and

(d) whether the authorities have, in the past, conducted any study on stormwater collection systems with a view to utilising stormwater resources in a more effective way to reduce the consumption of potable water, e.g. building large-scale or regional stormwater harvesting systems and secondary water supply systems (i.e. systems other than the existing plumbing systems for fresh water supply at the taps) for the purpose of utilising stormwater for various non-potable uses (e.g. toilet flushing, landscape irrigation and cooling air-conditioning systems, etc.); if they have, of the findings?

Reply:

President,

In Hong Kong, the sewerage system and the stormwater collection system operate independently to enable the separate treatment of sewage and rainwater. In general, stormwater is directly discharged into the sea. To prevent polluted water from entering the stormwater collection system due to various reasons thus polluting the environment, we have implemented a handful of measures to reduce the discharge of polluted water into the stormwater collection system, such as tackling the problem at source by rectifying misconnections to stormwater drains; installing dry weather flow interceptors at suitable locations; and regulating improper discharge of polluted water at roadside. Moreover, we would carry out regular cleansing work to remove sludge at the stormwater collection system so as to reduce nuisance to the public arising from the odour generated by the accumulated sludge.

My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(a) From 2009 to 2011, the Highways Department and the Drainage Services Department received a total of 563 complaints about foul odour from drains and gullies of the stormwater collection system. However, we have no further breakdown of the complaints into different problems, such as hygiene problem. On receipt of a complaint about foul odour, the departments concerned would immediately arrange contractor to carry out cleansing work. Generally, the main causes of foul odour are misconnection of sewers to the stormwater collection system and improper discharge of polluted water into stormwater drains. Apart from rectifying the misconnections to resolve the problem at source, enforcement departments concerned would also conduct regular inspections to deal with any illegal discharge of polluted water into roadside drains on the spot. Appropriate enforcement actions would also be considered when breaches of relevant legislations (such as the Water Pollution Control Ordinance) are found. On the technical front, the Highways Department would install gully traps at roadside gullies at black spots of foul odour to reduce odour releasing from the drains. In addition, a local university is conducting a study on reducing foul odour arising from sludge in box culverts. The study is expected to complete in 2013.

(b) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has set up a total of 94 monitoring stations in Hong Kong waters, inner bays, typhoon shelters and anchorages to monitor marine water quality on a regular basis. The selection of sites for these stations and the monitoring methodologies are set in accordance with internationally recognised scientific practices of the relevant disciplines, including oceanography and statistics. As the collected water quality data are mainly used for studying the long-term trend of variations in marine water quality, the monitoring stations are generally located offshore instead of near-shore areas to avoid recording widely divergent data arising from abrupt pollutant sources near the shore. Otherwise, the data may lead to over- or under-estimation of the water quality of the receiving waters concerned. As such, the Marine Water Quality Monitoring Programme of the EPD would not conduct water quality tests at near-shore areas, particularly at stormwater outfalls or their nearby waters where there may be pollutant discharges.

Apart from EPD's regular water quality monitoring as mentioned above, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) has also conducted baseline water quality monitoring at the waterways adjacent to Kai Tak Development (including To Kwa Wan Typhoon Shelter) since December 2009, in connection with the planning and design of the Kai Tak Development. The CEDD collects water samples every three months to analyse a number of physical, chemical and microbiological parameters, including dissolved oxygen and coliform count. The monitoring results are available for public viewing on the website of Kai Tak Development (www.ktd.gov.hk).

Regarding the monitoring of inflow of polluted water into the stormwater collection system, we consider that regular inspections and immediate tackling of pollution at source are more effective in preventing the polluted water from entering stormwater drains.

(c) As far as practicable, we would incorporate sewage collection installations, such as dry weather flow interceptors, into stormwater collection systems. These installations can intercept and divert polluted water flow to sewerage system for treatment during dry seasons.

Hong Kong is located in the subtropical region with high annual rainfall. Connecting all or some of the stormwater drains directly or via a switching system to the sewerage system would lead to huge volume of stormwater entering the sewerage system. Coping with the large amount of additional stormwater flow would require many-fold enlargement in the size of the existing sewer pipes and substantial expansion in the capacity of the sewage treatment works. As a matter of fact, most of our urban underground spaces are already congested with various kinds of pipes and ducts. It is not practical to lay larger sewers in these areas. Besides, it is not cost-effective to enlarge the sewers and expand the capacity of sewage treatment works to deal with the additional rainwater inflow.

(d) We have been undertaking studies on the more effective use of rainwater resources and reduction of potable water for non-potable uses. At present, we have selected some parks and public housing development projects for trial schemes on harvesting rainwater via rainwater harvesting systems for toilet flushing and irrigation purposes. Findings from these schemes will serve as references for setting the future standards of rainwater harvesting system. Besides, the Water Supplies Department has commissioned a consultancy study on the development of design guidelines and water quality standards for rainwater harvesting system. The study is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
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