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Old March 8th, 2006, 09:37 AM   #141
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Old March 11th, 2006, 07:58 AM   #142
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Strike the right balance in urban renewal plan
10 March 2006
South China Morning Post

Faced with persistent demands from the property sector to further facilitate urban redevelopment, the government has proposed making it easier for developers to force the sale of buildings. The proposal requires critical scrutiny, as forcing property owners to divest their holdings strikes at the heart of private property rights.

At present, a person who owns not less than 90 per cent of the undivided shares in a lot can apply to the Lands Tribunal for a compulsory sale of the whole lot for redevelopment. The relevant law was introduced in 1998 after years of debate. Before then, a lot could be redeveloped only with the consent of every owner. For many multi-storey buildings with hundreds, if not thousands, of flats, achieving a consensus among all the owners was almost an impossible task. It took only one owner's refusal to sell to frustrate years of efforts by a developer to buy up every other unit at huge costs.

Since the law came into effect in 1999, only 19 applications for compulsory sale had been submitted by the end of last year. Of them, five had been granted by the tribunal and four are being processed. The others have been discontinued, apparently because agreements were reached between the parties concerned. The property industry has claimed that the process of gathering titles remains protracted, and has therefore asked for a lowering of the threshold to 80 per cent.

The government has evidently tried to strike a balance between protecting private property rights and facilitating redevelopment. It has not acceded to the industry's request, and has opted for a compromise. Officials have proposed lowering the threshold to 80 per cent for only three types of properties - a lot with all units but one acquired; a lot with buildings that are aged 40 years or above; or a lot with at least 10 per cent of its owners missing or untraceable.

The "all but one" rule will make it easier to redevelop some old buildings with five to nine units. It is fair, as just one unit in this type of buildings may account for more than 10 per cent of the undivided shares of the lot. Missing or untraceable owners are a serious problem in many old buildings. Provided that the tribunal is satisfied that exhaustive efforts have been made to trace them, a small number of absentee landlords should not be allowed to block redevelopment.

There is a need, however, to fine-tune the proposal to lower the compulsory sale threshold to 80 per cent for properties that are more than 40 years old. The problem with this proposal is that it sees an ageing building as synonymous with a poorly maintained one. While that may be the situation for many buildings now, it cannot be right as a general rule forever. Properly maintained and refurbished, buildings can last a lot longer. As a result of building management initiatives introduced in recent years, there is reason to believe that buildings completed over the past two decades should remain perfectly habitable when they are 40 years old.

For too long, Hong Kong people have equated urban renewal with urban redevelopment. It is time they abandoned the misconception. Many cities have shown that neighbourhoods can be renewed without pulling down their old buildings. A Sustainable Development Council survey last year found widespread support for revitalising old urban areas. A sustainable lifestyle should not mean a preference for tearing down old buildings.

Instead of adopting the age of a building as a simple cut-off point for relaxing the forced sale threshold, the law should stipulate that the threshold can be lowered to 80 per cent only if a building is in a serious state of disrepair.

The caveat is needed both as a safeguard for private property rights and a check against rampant redevelopment. The existing 90 per cent rule is barely acceptable as a justification for breaching the rights of owners unwilling to sell; lowering the figure to 80 per cent, without proper caveats, just for the sake of facilitating redevelopment would be wrong.
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Old March 12th, 2006, 08:25 PM   #143
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Hysan pins hopes on rental growth
Property investor confident that office income will offset revenue decline from Hennessy Centre redevelopment
8 March 2006
South China Morning Post

Hysan Development expects rental growth in its office portfolio to help it comfortably weather a revenue decline from its Hennessy Centre redevelopment.

The 45-storey, 719,642 square foot Hennessy Centre is due to be demolished in the fourth quarter and redeveloped with a heavy retail exposure by late 2009.

Analysts have estimated Hysan might have to sacrifice $140 million to $200 million of rental income a year as a result.

But the biggest landlord in Causeway Bay yesterday said the days of negative rental reversion - where rents fall short of earlier tenancy agreements - were behind it and it expected higher office rentals to kick in this year.

"Redevelopment of Hennessy Centre will certainly affect our rental revenue in the next few years," managing director Michael Lee Tze-hau said at the developer's results announcement yesterday.

"But such risks are very much under control because positive rental renewals in our office portfolio will not be fully reflected in our accounts until this year."

He said lease renewals in its office properties, which accounted for about 59 per cent of Hysan's 4.5 million sqft gross floor area portfolio, were strong last year with occupancy staying at 95 per cent.

Office rents at its core Lee Gardens, for instance, surged more than 50 per cent last year. This compared with an overall 15 to 20 per cent increase for its retail and residential properties, he said.

Nonetheless, revenue from the segment was flat at $501 million last year. Income at its retail arm grew 13 per cent to $503 million, while residential income jumped 23 per cent to $209 million.

Analysts generally agreed with Hysan's positive outlook on the upward leasing market cycle, although the already high occupancy could possibly cap rental growth.

"All the property companies now are well past the point of getting their earnings growth from filling empty space. Their earnings growth now is from rental reversion," CLSA head of regional property research John Saunders said.

"As Central rents get higher, rents in Causeway Bay are going up. Hysan is in a good position to benefit from rental improvements in decentralised areas."

For the year to December, Hysan's underlying earnings, which excluded property revaluations, soared 65 per cent to $1 billion.

This beat the market consensus estimate of $833.95 million, according to Thomson Financial.

The underlying earnings included a $467 million gain on asset disposal, mainly arising from the $2.7 billion sale of Entertainment Building in Central last year.

Stripping out this gain, its net profit grew 9.4 per cent to $641 million.

Including the $3.76 billion revaluation gain from its investment properties, its bottom line shot up 577 per cent to $4.12 billion under the new accounting standard.

Turnover rose 8.25 per cent to $1.24 billion.

A final dividend of 35 cents per share was proposed, up 16.6 per cent from last year.

Net asset value grew 19.6 per cent to $23.42 per share, while net gearing was at 6.4 per cent at the end of last year.

"The outlook for this year is still positive, although uncertainties of interest-rate rises and high oil prices remain," chairman Peter Lee Ting-chang said. He added Hysan had no immediate plan to jump on the real estate investment trust bandwagon but would continue to enhance its portfolio to narrow its net asset value discount.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 09:53 PM   #144
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Recalling lost battle and wrecked hopes
15 March 2006
South China Morning Post

The plight of the individual owner is invariably highlighted whenever a property is identified for redevelopment. More often than not, there is resistance from owners who do not welcome the idea of giving up homes or properties that have belonged to them for years.

The proposal to relax rules on the compulsory sale of old buildings has raised concerns about the rights of minority private owners.

Legislator Chim Pui-chung, of the financial services constituency, recalled his own experiences two decades ago as an individual property owner.

In 1982, the former Land Development Corporation (LDC), which later became the Urban Renewal Authority, approached Mr Chim and told him his property on Des Voeux Road, in Central, was required for an office project to be jointly developed by Cheung Kong (Holdings) and the LDC.

After a three-year legal battle with the LDC, Mr Chim lost the case and was forced to sell the property in 1985.

The escalator of The Centre has been built on that site.

"I was given no chance to redevelop my property, even though I had the ability to do it," he said.

Mr Chim is still bitter about the experience. He said he had had plans to raise the value of the property by redeveloping it as a new block with about 50,000 sq ft of space.

Referring to the proposed amended law on the compulsory sale of old buildings, Mr Chim expressed hopes that developers and minority property owners could arrive at an agreement rather than take matters to court.

Sze Lai-shan, a spokeswoman for the Society for Community Organisation, said: "The proposal will weaken the rights of property owners - a lower threshold would mean less bargaining power."

Ms Sze said redevelopment was an answer to the issue of maintenance for decaying buildings. But at the same time it overlooked the impact on communities that had spent years in an area, building up a social world and often businesses based in the neighbourhood.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 05:16 AM   #145
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Change to law will promote redevelopment
Consultation paper urges lowering the threshold for an application for an order for the sale of land under certain conditions
15 March 2006
South China Morning Post

The fine balance between the need for urban renewal and protection of private property rights has always been a significant consideration by the government and the Legislative Council in the making of relevant laws.

No less so the government's recently published consultation paper to solicit views from the public on the enactment of subsidiary legislation to expand the scope of the application for an order for the sale of land under the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance.

Since the Ordinance came into operation in June 1999, there have been five successful applications and all of the land concerned has been sold.

The redevelopment of the five plots of land, including the Garley Building (which had been badly damaged by a fire) and an industrial building, would enhance the urban landscape and provide better accommodation for the people of Hong Kong.

Another 14 applications have been made under the Ordinance in the past seven years. The government understood that some applications had been discontinued, as agreements for the unity of ownership of the lands had been reached before the hearing by the Lands Tribunal. This demonstrates that the Ordinance has helped facilitate the assembly of some lands, as it has promoted a consensus of agreement among owners.

The existing law provided that an application for an order for the sale of land can only be made when the majority owner has secured not less than 90 per cent ownership. Since the Ordinance's enactment, the Chief Executive has been empowered to designate classes of lots, whereby an application can be made in which the ownership threshold could not be less than 80 per cent, subject to Legislative Council approval.

The land ownership system in Hong Kong has been characterised by its strata title ownership. This promotes ownership by individuals and rapid development of land in Hong Kong, but makes redevelopment difficult as unity of land ownership is a prerequisite. The Ordinance has promoted private sector participation in such initiatives, but the 90 per cent ownership threshold has limited its application.

The government considered submissions made by the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors and other industry views before making its current proposal. As a result, the three proposed classes of lots where the 80 per cent threshold would apply include:

a lot with "all units but one" acquired;

a lot with building(s) aged 40 years or above; and

a lot with missing/untraceable owners.

Applications under the Ordinance would be driven by the release of the redevelopment value of the lands or, in other words, the creation of marriage value through the unity of the strata title ownership of the lands concerned.

For instance, a building could have higher redevelopment value than its existing use if the floor area was increased during redevelopment, or the value enhanced as the redevelopment was for office use instead of industrial use.

With the benefits and/or the hope of selling the concerned land as a whole for redevelopment, individual owners would be able to participate in the redevelopment value (which would be higher than its existing use value) and thus higher value could be created for the owners than if the relevant units were sold individually.

Once the government proposal can be implemented as law with the support of the general public and the Legislative Council, it is likely there could be more active private participation in the urban renewal exercise by developers and individuals whose land has redevelopment potential.

Lau Chun-kong is a regional director with Jones Lang LaSalle
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Old March 19th, 2006, 08:50 AM   #146
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Collective finger on the sale button
15 March 2006
South China Morning Post

Owners of at least 12 old buildings are looking to sell to developers if the compulsory sale regulations are relaxed, according to property agents.

These buildings are mainly in traditional luxury residential districts, with Mid-Levels and Kowloon Tong the most popular.

"The proposed relaxation on compulsory sale would allow individual property owners to join forces to sell their flats more easily through collective sales," said Henderson Land Development general manager of sales Tony Tse Wai-chuen.

The owners of 9A-9H Seymour Road have high hopes the proposal will go through after fighting for seven years to sell their building for redevelopment.

Collectively, they own about 80per cent of the 61 flats in the development.

The sale, if realised, will achieve an estimated $320 million for the 9,948 sqft site and could be worth even more if it is redeveloped with sites nearby.

Ms Lam, a member of the auction organising committee of the building, said: "We believe we will have a much better shot with our redevelopment if the proposal is passed."

Owners accounting for about 80 per cent of the flats at nearby Merry Terrace at 4A-4P Seymour Road hope to put the building up for tender by June.

A collective representing about 90 per cent of the flats at 27-29A Seymour Road is looking to sell.

The owners of about 90 per cent of the flats at 105 Robinson Road are looking for buyers, while owners who account for 70 per cent of the flats at 25 Robinson Road have put the building up for tender.

Meanwhile, the owners of more than 70 per cent of the units at Minerva House and Carol Mansion on Lyttleton Road, and Sung Ling Mansion and Ping On Mansion on Babington Path are hoping to sell.

The owners of more than 80 per cent of the flats in the 448-unit Kut Cheong Mansion on King's Road in North Point are waiting for the owners of ground-level shops to join them so that they can sell by tender.

All of the owners of flats at 36 Marble Road have agreed to put their units up for tender.

In Kowloon, owners of 80 per cent of Moonbeam Terrace and Lung Cheung Court in Kowloon Tong have agreed to sell their buildings. The owners of about 90per cent of Joy Garden and 15-15A Belfran Road, also in Kowloon Tong, are looking for a buyer.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 02:06 AM   #147
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Residential blocks for ATV site
22 March 2006
South China Morning Post

Cheung Kong (Holdings) plans to build five 10-storey residential blocks on the Kowloon Tong headquarters site of Asia Television.

The Buildings Department approved 22 plans last month, including the redevelopment projects of Cheung Kong and Hysan Development.

Cheung Kong plans to provide for a total gross floor area of 137,720 square feet at the Kowloon site.

The Town Planning Board imposed a building height restriction for residential and commercial sites in Kowloon Tong last month. Under the new rule, the limit for the site will be 13 floors.

The ATV headquarters at 81 Broadcast Drive, with a site area of about 50,000 square feet, has been sold to Cheung Kong for $600 million. ATV will shift its operations to Tai Po next year.

Meanwhile, the Buildings Department has approved a revised plan for Hennessy Centre in Causeway Bay. Hysan Development plans to build a 41-storey commercial tower over four basement levels, with a total gross area of 713,752 square feet.

The existing 45-storey office and retail complex, built in 1981, has seven levels of retail space only. The new development will provide more retail space.

The investment cost of the redevelopment is about $1.2 billion. Hysan expects to complete the project in late 2009.

Swire Properties has made a concession on the redevelopment project of Castle Steps in Mid-Levels. It now plans to build one 57-storey residential block, which is lower than its original plan for a 63-storey residential block that was opposed by residents. The project will provide a total gross floor area of 132,525 square feet.
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Old March 23rd, 2006, 03:07 AM   #148
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Forced to move with the times
The crucible of Hong Kong's manufacturing revolution in the 1960s, San Po Kong Industrial Estate, is dead, but new industries are being drawn to the district
18 March 2006
South China Morning Post

The gates to the Hip Shing metal shop creaked to a close yesterday. Around it, gates leading to other workshops at the San Po Kong Industrial Estate were already boarded up and padlocked, eviction notices from the Housing Authority the official seals of their fate.

Just in front, Tang Sai-bun was taking one more look at the place that defined not just his work but his life for the past four decades. By the end of the month, he will have finished relocating Hip Shing to another Housing Authority factory estate in Kwun Tong, but the 74-year-old said it would not be the same - even though he is moving everything, down to the gate itself, so the new shop will look exactly like the old.

Mr Tang was among the 40 tenants who protested last month against the authority reclaiming the estate for redevelopment, and he said every person on the estate was a friend and a neighbour he would now have to leave behind.

The protesters, representing about 10 per cent of the estate's 900 units, wanted more compensation but the authority refused to give in. Mr Tang was offered $250,000 for his two 24-square-metre units, but he said the authority should have helped pay for moving and the cost of installing water and electricity in the new shop.

Then again, Mr Tang recalled, there wasn't much help the last time he had to move either, back in 1963. On January 15 that year, he moved from Tai Kok Tsui to the then newly built estate. The government resettled him and his store after Typhoon Wanda nearly flattened the city the year before.

"There were just Blocks One and Two then, and broken ground all around with no buildings or anything," he said. "For the first eight months there was no water or electricity because it was such a new development."

Mr Tang makes metal products and ornaments such as fences, stairway railings and metal gates.

"I don't remember how many thousands of gates I made," he said. "It was mostly soldering by hand and other manual labour because we didn't have any fancy machines. And we made everything to order."

San Po Kong was already booming as a manufacturing centre in the 1960s, with metal shops like Hip Shing and garment factories that never closed. Factories had begun springing up in the district in the 1950s as a result of government planning after the second world war. The most notable example, perhaps, was a company that exported plastic flowers started by a young man named Li Ka-shing.

Wong Tai Sin District Council chairman Wong Kam-chi said the development of San Po Kong helped draw people to the "frontier areas" of Wong Tai Sin and Diamond Hill. "At its peak, over 200,000 labourers worked there, and around 70 per cent of the residents in the area were working in the factories there," he said.

Mr Tang said Hip Shing took in about $500,000 a month in its heyday - a pittance compared to many of the other, bigger factories. "I hired just four or five people, paid by the day, whenever there was work. It was difficult because most things were done manually and so labour took up such a large part of it." Several thousand dollars worth of labour went into every few hundred dollars of metal, he said.

The good years lasted until the late 1980s, when the vast migration to the mainland began. "What's left now is less than 10 per cent of the factories," Mr Wong said. "Most of the companies just use their San Po Kong factory for packaging or as a transfer point."

One exception is Star Industrial Company, which continues to make its ubiquitous Red A plastic household products in its Dai Yau Street factory.

With the continued decline of industries in the district, San Po Kong is once again undergoing a transformation. "The government is quietly pushing for it," said Mr Wong. "We've discussed rezoning some factories to include commercial and industrial uses, for example." Mr Wong said two parcels of land were bought by developers to build hotel-type residences, but construction had yet to begin.

"The change in San Po Kong is really happening very quickly," he said. "I won't go as far as to say that industry will die out completely in the district, but I think it will be very hard for them to survive."

But where traditional labourers like Mr Tang are on their way out, new industries may yet find their way into the district. DCDCorp, a computer graphics production house behind Dragonblade, Hong Kong's first 3D computer-generated animated feature film, is based in the glass-fronted Stelux House in the district.

Marketing manager Karen Choi Pui-yan said the company decided to move there from Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong nearly four years ago mainly because of the cheap rent.

"The unit is huge and the rent is cheap," she said. "It's also much more conveniently located than Cyberport."
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Old March 24th, 2006, 11:26 PM   #149
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Kerry unveils $2.7b Quarry Bay project Hong Kong Tobacco headquarters makes way for office tower
25 March 2006
South China Morning Post

Kerry Properties will redevelop an industrial block in Quarry Bay into an office tower, at a cost of at least $2.7 billion.

The company recently bought the 450,000 square foot headquarters of Hong Kong Tobacco from the family of Charles Ho Tsu-kwok, a tobacco tycoon who owns the Sing Tao Group.

Kerry Properties executive director Steven Ho Shut-kan yesterday declined to give a breakdown of the land price and construction cost, but he said: "Total development cost for the building will be not less than $2.7 billion."

"We will hold it for long-term investment," Mr Ho said.

The investment was in line with the company's plan to build up its office property portfolio in areas with good access to mass transport, he said.

The plan was unveiled yesterday when the company announced a 35.03 per cent increase in net profit to $3.06 billion for the year to December.

The bottom line included a gain of $1.3 billion arising from the revaluation of investment properties.

Taking out the revaluation gain from investment properties, the company saw an 11.32 per cent increase in net profit to $1.75 billion.

Earnings per share were $2.53, up 33.15 per cent. Directors declared a final dividend of 50 cents per share, with a scrip dividend alternative. Full year dividend is 70 cents per share.

Kerry Properties is controlled by the Kuok Group, which is also the largest shareholder of the SCMP Group.

During the year, net profit from the mainland dropped 32.1 per cent to $372 million from $548 million in 2004.

Deputy chairman Wong Siu-kong said the decline was partly a result of the central government's austerity measures on the property sector but he expected the market to improve this year.

In Hong Kong, net profit rose 20.38 per cent to $1.42 billion.

About 70 units of Tregunter Towers in Mid-Levels are available for sale.

Mr Ho expected sales income this year would exceed last year.

The company said it would announce more details of its Macau property project in the coming months.
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Old March 25th, 2006, 06:26 AM   #150
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Demolition decision looms for Shamshuipo estate
24 March 2006
South China Morning Post

About 15,000 residents at a 46-year-old Shamshuipo public estate may learn by the end of next week if they face rehousing.

Chan Wai-ming, a Shamshuipo District Council member, said yesterday he had learned from housing officials that the Housing Authority's strategic planning committee would meet next Thursday to discuss a proposal to demolish So Uk Estate, which is his constituency.

The move follows media reports that a Housing Department survey revealed serious structural problems among the 16 tower blocks of the estate and that further repairs would be ineffective and a waste of public money. It is understood one of the options would see demolition starting in 2008 and lasting three years.

Mr Chan said residents generally welcomed news of the demolition proposal, which they felt was long overdue.

"Of all public estates in Shamshuipo, only So Uk Estate is over 40 years old. Other estates such as Shek Kip Mei Estate and Pak Tin Estates have been included in the redevelopment project and works are already going on," he said.

"From residents' perspective, they hope to see an improvement in their living environment. Also, after So Uk Estate is demolished, the use of the vacant land will offer many options. For example, we can either use it to build public housing or sell the land to private developers to generate much needed income for the Treasury."

Mr Chan said a residents' meeting will be held tonight to discuss the matter and some residents will go to the Housing Authority next Thursday to voice their views.

"On top of intra-district rehousing, we need to solve the problem of elderly residents, who make up about 40 per cent of the estate's population. Are there sufficient single or two-person public housing flats in Shamshuipo for this group?" he said.

"Moreover, there is the issue of rent. In So Uk Estate, it is on average $40 per square metre, whereas in other estates in the Shamshuipo area, it is $63 to $64 per square metre. This may pose a problem for those families who are earning about $8,000 to $9,000 a month and are neither CSSA households nor eligible for public housing assistance."

Mr Chan said these residents ought to be offered a choice of more affordable public housing in nearby districts, if they are to be rehoused, in soon-to-be-completed estates such as Un Chau Estate and Shek Kip Mei Estate.

Wai Woon-nan, chairman of the district council's housing committee, said it had received no details about the redevelopment plan. "We hope the government demolishes the estate in two phases. The blocks which require temporary structural support should be pulled down first," he said.
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Old March 25th, 2006, 06:11 PM   #151
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More banks join old buildings push
Jonathan Cheng
18 March 2006
Hong Kong Standard

The Urban Renewal Authority has expanded an incentive program that it credits for sparking a wave of rehabilitation of Hong Kong's aging buildings, roping in four more banks that will offer mortgage perks to owners who voluntarily renovate their buildings.

District development director Stephen Lam Friday framed the announcement as a reaffirmation of the government's turn to private partnership and market incentives to spur urban renewal.

Under the terms of the scheme, 17 banks will consider offering preferential mortgage terms to prospective buyers of units in renovated buildings, making it easier for owners who invest in renovations to sell their flats.

The scheme applies to owners of buildings 20 years or older who voluntarily carry out the renovations voluntarily under two URA-financed loan schemes.

Lam described the program as an unquestioned success, crediting the scheme with triggering a 48 percent jump in flat transactions at 42 renovated buildings after the URA rolled out the mortgage incentive scheme in August 2004.

"The response has been very good, and now we're pressing forward with the support of four more banks.''

The four new banks - Citibank, DBS, GE Money and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China - will join a list of 13 participating banks that includes HSBC and Bank of China.

But Lam conceded that there are limits to the incentives, since they only offer benefits to those wanting to cash out their aging properties - not those intent on staying.

Many older buildings, he added, did not have a single owner or an owners' corporation to make decisions on building renovations. Lam said the URA is willing to help owners lacking the expertise to go about renovating their aging buildings, saying it often stepped in to propose color schemes to increase the buildings' attractiveness and marketability. "First, we present an artist's impression to the owners, and then we work to persuade them to realize our vision,'' he said.

Lam then projected a series of before-and-after photos which he said showed off the URA's design savvy.

Centaline Property senior research manager Wong Leung-sing said renovated buildings gave an undeniable boost to flat values.

"We saw jumps in the value,'' he said. "Not just a gradual increase, I mean a jump. And it's clearly linked to the renovation.''
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Old March 25th, 2006, 06:12 PM   #152
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Demand surges for flats in renewal scheme buildings
18 March 2006
South China Morning Post

Sales have surged almost 50 per cent and prices have risen in buildings revamped through government-run schemes, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and owners say.

Property agents say the schemes, which provide materials, advice and interest-free loans for renovations, have helped such buildings regain a foothold in the second-hand market.

But the authority says there are still obstacles, including a lack of owners' corporations that are a requirement before a building can benefit from the services.

The comments came as the authority announced four more financial institutions would provide preferential mortgages on properties spruced up under the rehabilitation material incentive scheme and interest-free loan scheme. This brings the number of providers to 17.

Since August 2004, banks have been offering loans of up to 70 per cent of valuation at an interest rate comparable to buildings 10 years old for buildings renovated under the two schemes.

The authority said that since the preferential mortgage services were launched, it knew of about 460 transactions involving 108 buildings improved under its schemes, in which about 30 per cent had been able to secure mortgages, usually difficult for older buildings.

Tommy Lo Kin-ming, owners' corporation chairman of Johnston Court in Wan Chai, said the value of his flat had risen about 10 per cent since the building was repainted and new lifts installed.

"Before, it cost around $1.7 million to $1.8 million. Now, after rehabilitation, it has gone up to about $1.9 to $2 million," he said.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 09:00 AM   #153
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五年分兩期拆遷 將發放特惠津貼
蘇屋村5000戶原區安置

25/03/2006
太陽報



坐落深水近半個世紀的蘇屋將於五年內全面清拆。房屋署消息人士證實,蘇屋十六幢樓宇的結構老化,未來的維修費用高達二億四千多萬元,不符合經濟原則,故決定分兩期清拆整條屋,一萬三千多名住戶受影響。第一期需調遷的劍蘭樓、楓林樓等十座樓宇的居民,最遲於○八年十一月遷出;其餘則需於二○一一年八月前遷出,全部居民皆可獲原區安置。

消息人士指出,雖然蘇屋的樓宇結構問題不大,但須進行大規模修葺工程,尤其需鞏固大廈走廊、重澆廁所樓板、更換露台橫樑、走廊護欄等,費用高達二億四千五百多萬元,但亦只可將屋現狀保持十五年,至於日後的維修費,更可能以倍計增加,故署方認為不符合經濟效益,及考慮到維修期間的滋擾嚴重,因此建議全面清拆。

重建符合經濟原則
房屋署又指,蘇屋共十六幢大廈中,其中九幢的維修問題較為嚴重,尤以劍蘭樓的洗手間天花滲漏情況為甚,整幢大廈的維修率高達八成;而楓林樓亦有四成的單位天台橫樑出現裂縫。署方估計,以修葺方案的每年補貼水平,預算每個單位需二千三百元,但在比較全重建的所需費用後,每單位平均只需二千五百元,故認為重建較符合經濟原則。

房署全面清拆蘇屋將分兩期進行,首先會清拆十座位處較高平台上的樓宇,如劍蘭樓、楓林樓等,以減少長者及兒童住戶需上下山進出屋的不便,第一期受清拆影響約三千戶,最遲需於○八年十一月遷出。至於第二期位處較低的六座大廈,共約二千戶居民,則會連同商業和福利設施等一起於二○一一年八月前遷出,以便未能遷出的居民,仍可使用有關設施。

房署將會提供原區多個屋的單位給受影響居民調遷,該批單位包括元州第二及四期共三千五百個單位,長沙灣分層工廠大廈重建項目共一千六百個單位及石硤尾的數百個單位。

署方亦將會給受影響住戶發放特惠津貼,及讓居民優先以綠表購買居屋,建議會在下星期交由房委會策劃小組討論。至於蘇屋的地皮將會作何種用途,署方則未有定案。
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Old March 28th, 2006, 02:08 AM   #154
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'Crown jewel' office project finally begins in Quarry Bay
Leslie Kwoh
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Leading land developer Swire Properties has begun construction on its HK$2 billion office flagship in Quarry Bay, following a year-long hiatus triggered by high vacancy rates in the office market.

Demolition of the two former buildings, Melbourne Industrial Building and Aik San Factory Building, at the site on Westlands Road was completed 13 months ago but, "because the commercial aspect was not so good, we did not feel the need to rush," Swire's head of public affairs, Miranda Szeto, said at a presentation Monday.

While construction is not expected to be completed until 2008, high demand in the area means Quarry Bay office rents have more than doubled over the past year to average HK$31.21 per square foot a month, and are expected to increase by another 30 percent in the next 12 months, according to Knight Frank.

The 70-story glass office complex, which will add 1.5 million square feet of office space to Swire's investment properties portfolio, is currently the only major Grade A office development under way on Hong Kong Island after overall office property completions fell to a 35-year low last year.

Senior project manager Kenneth Ng described One Island East as the crown jewel in Swire's Island East business district, which includes 61 residential blocks and 12 commercial buildings.

It will also be the tallest building in Quarry Bay, at 308 meters, only 27m shorter than Hong Kong's tallest building, Two IFC.

A covered walkway will integrate the complex with neighboring Tai Koo Place.

Ng said he predicted construction would be "exceptionally efficient" as more than 2,100 glitches in structural planning, such as plumbing obstructions, were identified and resolved in the design stage, with the help of HK$10 million 3-D digital visualization software Swire adopted last February.

According to Ng, previous clashes between design and actual construction were checked manually and randomly by consultants, and only at an advanced stage of construction, thus resulting in a high wastage rate of new and unused fittings and finishes.

Design clashes alone were responsible for about 2,000 cubic meters of construction waste at Three Pacific Place, which Swire completed in 2004, he said.

As such wastage is expected to be completely eliminated in the One Island East project - the first project in Hong Kong to use the software - Ng estimated that total construction waste would be reduced by 15-25 percent. He predicted the new "Designing Out Waste" initiative would bring long-term gains for Swire, especially after accumulating landfills prompted the government to implement waste charges in January ranging from HK$27 to HK$125 a ton for all projects costing HK$1 million or more.

One Island East will also be the first project in Hong Kong to use "concrete crushers," multimillion dollar vehicles used during demolition to "bite" materials into smaller chunks, which can then be more easily divided into groups for recycling.

Only about 1 percent of waste from demolition works for the One Island East project went to landfills, Ng said.

The remaining 99 percent was recycled or reused, including 57,125 tonnes of concrete and bricks, 2,840 tonnes of steel and 740 tonnes of other inert materials - which would have incurred anywhere from HK$1.6 million to HK$7.6 million under the new waste charges scheme.

Responding to concerns that One Island East would overcrowd the area, where office workers often complain they endure long restaurant lines during lunch hour, Szeto said she was "confident" the new complex will spark a new flurry of supplementary commercial developments.
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Old March 28th, 2006, 03:53 AM   #155
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308M!!!!

:WOW:

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Old March 28th, 2006, 01:30 PM   #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
'Crown jewel' office project finally begins in Quarry Bay
It will also be the tallest building in Quarry Bay, at 308 meters, only 27m shorter than Hong Kong's tallest building, Two IFC.
Ermmmmm someone lacks some basic skills in Math!

So lets hope that the figure provided is correct. Another 300m+ to add to Hong Kong's skyscraper arsenal!!!! Just wondering when/where the next 300m+ will be located on HK Island... I know that the government is trying to scale back developments on HK Island but who knows.
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Old March 28th, 2006, 01:39 PM   #157
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wow.. good news for HK
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Old March 29th, 2006, 11:26 PM   #158
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Luxury project broadens Western horizon
Mount Davis units are priced higher than average for Sai Ying Pun, but the development's proximity to Central will be the deciding factor
29 March 2006
South China Morning Post

Kowloon Development is hoping to cash in on the public's growing appetite for new properties with the launch of its Mount Davis 33 luxury development in Sai Ying Pun as early as Easter.

The developer intends to price the Western district project, a joint redevelopment venture with the Urban Renewal Authority, on 33 Ka Wai Man Road, at levels comparable with luxury apartments in Mid-Levels, hoping that its proximity to Central will attract homebuyers.

The 42-storey project has 89 units ranging from 770 sqft to 1,000 sqft in two and three-bedroom layouts.

The developer will set an average price of $6,200 per sqft, while the two penthouse units would be priced at about $12,000 per sqft.

Property agencies said this average pricing was a 13 per cent premium above average prices of about $5,500 per sqft for homes in the secondary market.

Kowloon Development marketing and sales manager Peter Yam Kin-wah said: "We believe our pricing is competitive, given the shortage of new supply on Hong Kong Island."

He said its target customers were those working in Central and upgraders in the neighbourhood. Sales of Mount Davis 33 will start 10 days after it receives the government's Certificate of Compliance, which is expected to be issued next month.

Agents say the pricing of Mount Davis 33 is justified but other larger-scale projects such as New World Development's The Merton and the upmarket The Belcher's are priced lower.

Ricacorp Properties' Western district manager Cathy Chiu Pui-ching said: "Most of the larger developments under five years old in Western district are priced at around $5,500 per sqft. However, Mount Davis 33 has an advantage over others because 1,000 sqft three-bedroom flats are difficult to find in Western district."

The area is seen as a cheaper alternative to Mid-Levels, especially Kennedy Town which draws expatriates and the younger generation, because it is a short bus ride to Central, Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo.

The latest project there is 60 Victoria Road, developed by Wheelock Properties. Sales of the 25-storey single tower project were positive, with 40 of the 73 units sold at an average of $5,500 per sqft since its launch. Western's biggest drawback is that it does not have an MTR station.

But that will change when the MTR Corp's long-awaited $7 billion West Island line, a 3km railway with three stations - University, Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town - starts operating in 2012.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 08:57 AM   #159
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that's a lot of text
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Old March 30th, 2006, 09:02 AM   #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosaic
Whoa!!! Skyscrapers are everywhere in HK.
Yup they're everywhere. But there are plenty of areas in the city that are not all covered by high-rises like Shouson Hill for example.
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