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Old June 11th, 2014, 05:49 PM   #1741
hkskyline
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MTR pile-driving ‘may have hit relics’
11 June 2014
South China Morning Post



Archaeological dig had not yet extended to site of latest discoveries, says construction manager

The latest relics to be discovered at a railway construction site in Kowloon City may have been hit by piles driven into the ground, the MTR has admitted.

The relics were found at the site of the To Kwa Wan station on the Sha Tin-Central line after thousands of artefacts – including an ancient well and parts of a building that may date back to the 10th century – were found in an area to be used as a tunnel shaft prompting the archaeological excavation area to be extended at the start of the year.

Previous studies had already suggested the structures may extend beyond the shaft site.

However, Peter Ip Ho-ching, MTR’s construction manager for the line, said yesterday that the rail operator had not been aware of the possible presence of relics when piles were being driven into place to support the shaft. “Some [ancient] structures are very close to each other, so it would not be surprising if some piles indeed hit them,” he said. Ip did not say if any damage had been found.

He said that before the Antiquities and Monuments Office makes its decision on whether or not to preserve To Kwa Wan relics in situ, steel panels would be driven 12 metres into the ground in an effort to protect all the relics discovered so far that have not yet been removed.

The operation would use technology that cuts out noise and vibrations. Instruments to monitor vibration and soil settlement would then be installed.

Tunnelling could then continue, and the area could be preserved in situ if the station’s design was adjusted, he said.

While the discoveries had led to a five-month delay in tunnelling, Ip said the actual impact on the project could not be determined until the archaeological excavations had been completed and the antiquities office had decided how to preserve the relics.

Ip said the MTR had presented the plan to the antiquities office, but the Development Bureau suggested more monitoring instruments be added. The panels would only be installed once the MTR had received permission from the office.

The relics at the site are now under canvas. Ip said installing the panels was urgent to protect the relics from rain and sun.

Ip said the panels could take a few weeks to install. “We will take it slowly and when there’s any problem, we will know about it.”

Rival protests were held at the site yesterday. One group called for the MTR to stop work, while another – which protested during a visit by district councillors – called for the first phase of the link to open in 2018 as scheduled.
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Old June 12th, 2014, 07:33 PM   #1742
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PLA building’s neon lights ‘a show of power’
12 June 2014
South China Morning Post


Source : Apple Daily

An addition by the People’s Liberation Army to the city’s harbour light show has divided opinion, with some seeing the neon display on the garrison’s Admiralty headquarters as sinister and others describing it as a mere decoration.

The flashing lights installed on the newly renovated building spell “Chinese People’s Liberation Army” in giant characters.

Professor Ray Yep Kin-man, of the City University’s department of public policy, said the display was meant to emphasise the central government’s sovereignty over Hong Kong.

“It is sensitive timing,” Yep said, a day after the State Council issued its white paper emphasising Beijing’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.

“They should know such an installation could touch a nerve with Hongkongers.”

Helena Wong Pik-wan of the Democratic Party said the neon lights were “disturbing”.

“I think it is threatening, it is telling Hongkongers that ‘we are here’ … It is not in unity with the buildings nearby and it destroys the entire night view,” she said.

But pro-government politician Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said it was no different from displays on commercial buildings such as the Bank of America tower.

The PLA agreed, saying the lights – which were still on trial – were designed to match the urban landscape. The comments came amid a wave of protests over the white paper and followed a 180,000-strong turnout at Victoria Park last week to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Adding to the sensitivity is the Occupy Central movement’s unofficial “referendum” later this month on how the 2017 chief executive election should be carried out.

“It is an obvious gesture to stress [Beijing’s] authority in the heart of the city,” Yep said.

He stopped short of saying it implied a threat of force against demonstrations such as Occupy Central’s planned blockade on the business district, but added: “It does send a message to Hong Kong people that [Beijing’s] authority is solemn and clear.”

But New People’s Party chairwoman Ip said Hong Kong should be proud of the PLA.

“My daughter said she is very impressed,” Ip said. “There is no need to feel threatened … In fact, members of the PLA garrison are much better behaved than their British counterparts.”
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Old June 16th, 2014, 03:56 PM   #1743
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MTR pile-driving ‘may have hit relics’
11 June 2014
South China Morning Post

Song-era finds at MTR site point to Chius’ ancient line
14 June 2014
South China Morning Post

Traces of ancient settlement unearthed during work on new MTR station may fill gaps in story of the royal princes who may be clan’s ancestors

For Chiu Wai-shing, the discovery of traces of an ancient settlement in Kowloon City may not only shed more light on Hong Kong’s past, it could open a new chapter in his family’s history.

For decades, members of the Chiu clan in Hong Kong have been researching their past. Many believe they are the descendants of the Song dynasty (960-1279) royal family – members of which are thought to have fled to Hong Kong during the dying days of the dynasty.

The discovery of a building and wells dating to the Song or Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties on the site of the future To Kwa Wan MTR station have prompted a frisson of excitement.

An archaeological excavation at the 23,000-square-metre site, which started in late 2012 and is expected to be completed by September, has so far found thousands of artefacts dating back as far as the Song dynasty and as recently as the early 20th century. The wells, parts of a building and drainage channels that have so far been unearthed are among the oldest finds.

“This discovery is very encouraging to us,” said Chiu, president of the Chiu Clansmen’s General Association of Hong Kong. “When the Song emperors came to Hong Kong, a large entourage of officials and soldiers followed them.

“They built houses and settled here. Although the relics at the MTR site may not be directly related to the Chius, we find them very meaningful. Through further study, the wells and foundations will tell us more about how people lived in that era.”

The story goes that two boy emperors of the waning Song regime, Zhao Shi and Zhao Bing, sought refuge in Hong Kong for months. According to genealogical records, say clan members backed by some historians, a bloodline of the royal Zhao family connects to the city’s Chius.

As the clan’s leader in the city, the 70-year-old Chiu collected some 600 signatures last month to urge the MTR Corporation to rename the new station Sung Wong Toi or “Terrace of the Song kings”, after an ancient boulder that stood nearby.

Founded in 1948, Chiu’s association has long been advocating the clan’s heritage relating to the Song royals. In the 1950s, it wrote to the colonial government to call for the construction of Sung Wong Toi Garden in Kowloon City. The garden became the home for the surviving part of the boulder; much of the original rock was destroyed when Japanese occupation forces levelled Sacred Hill to extend Kai Tak airport in the second world war.

The group also helped further demonstrate links between the Song regime and Kowloon City by funding research by historian Professor Jen Yu-wen for his book Sung Wong Toi: a commemorative volume.

“The Song Dynasty was a peak of Chinese cultural development. It represented an era of patriotism… We feel obliged to conserve the heritage and pass on our traditions,” Chiu said.

He suggested that a museum be built on Sung Wong Toi Playground to showcase the newly discovered Song dynasty artefacts, and backed the government’s decision to preserve one of the wells in situ.

“Culture needs to be passed on, but we don’t want to hinder modern development,” he said, reflecting on the debate between conservationists who favour keeping more of the relics in place and those who want progress on the long-awaited Sha Tin to Central rail link.

There are an estimated 70 million people with the surname Chiu or its variations in China, with another 10 million overseas, according to Chiu.

The association has about 600 members but cannot ascertain the exact number of Chius in the city. The family name has many Romanised variants, including Zhao on the mainland, Chao in Taiwan, Chio in Macau, Cho in Korea and Chew or Chow in Malaysia and Singapore.

The association organises annual trips to the cenotaph of Emperor Bing in Shenzhen to commemorate him. It also joins the World Conference of the Chew Family Associations which is held every three years. Hosting duties rotate among various countries.

Chiu convened the first conference, held in Hong Kong in 1995. The next conference will be held in 2016 in Kuala Lumpur.

Open University historian Dr Chiu Yu-lok said it was generally difficult to independently ascertain the accuracy of genealogical records from before the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Polytechnic University historian Dr Ho Koon-wan, who specialises in Song dynasty history, said the names of the Chiu clan appeared to support the claim of a royal bloodline. He said it would be technically feasible to verify the claim by DNA tests.

“There were also civilians surnamed Chiu, but their names did not have to follow the pattern set by couplets at the ancestral halls,” Ho said.
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Old June 17th, 2014, 07:06 PM   #1744
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Citigroup buys $700mln Asia HQ in record Hong Kong office deal



HONG KONG, June 17 (Reuters) - Citigroup will pay HK$5.425 billion ($699.86 million) for its new Hong Kong headquarters, in the largest ever purchase of a single-block office building in the Asian financial hub, the U.S. bank said on Tuesday.

A unit of developer Wheelock and Co Ltd is building the twin One Bay East towers in Hong Kong's Kowloon district, with Citi taking the East Tower and insurer Manulife (International) Limited already the West.

The 21-storey building will become Citi's new hub for all its businesses in Hong Kong, where the U.S. bank said it employs almost 5,000 people, making it the biggest employer among foreign banks in the city.

Citi becomes the fourth major global bank to move its Hong Kong headquarters out of the city's increasingly expensive Central district, to the Kowloon area across the harbour.

Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley have all moved from Central to the 118-floor International Commerce Centre in Kowloon in the last four years amid rising rents in Central.

Owning the building outright will help Citi protect itself against Hong Kong's notoriously volatile property market, Citi Hong Kong Chief Executive Weber Lo said in an internal memo to staff seen by Reuters.

"Our decision to purchase the East Tower of One Bay East underlines our belief and confidence in Hong Kong's continued growth as a leading global financial centre," said Stephen Bird, Citi's Chief Executive for Asia Pacific in a statement on Tuesday.

Hong Kong's government said on May 22 it had no intention of easing property cooling measures in the city, where prices have surged nearly 120 percent since 2008 due to an ultra-low interest rate environment, tight supply and abundant liquidity.

Citi will move into the new One Bay East building in the second half of 2016 following completion of construction in the third quarter of next year, it said.

($1 = 7.7515 Hong Kong dollars)
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Old June 19th, 2014, 11:55 AM   #1745
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URA set to think big after rare deficit
18 June 2014
South China Morning Post


URA

The Urban Renewal Authority is set to switch its focus to bigger, more profitable redevelopments after recording a HK$2.3 billion deficit - its first loss in five years - for the last financial year.

The URA said the deficit was mainly due to the delay in tendering for four projects amid resistance from property owners, and provisions for losses on five projects for which compensation offers were made.

But greater opposition to redevelopment schemes was only one factor putting the URA under a financial strain, chairman Victor So Hing-woh said after a board meeting yesterday. A declining property market and rising construction costs could also threaten the URA's long-term financial stability.

So said a steering committee had been created to come up with proposals that would allow the URA to conduct redevelopments in a "more efficient" way.

"For example, it is not necessary for the authority to adopt a 'slash and burn' approach in every project. Smaller sites can be renovated instead of being redeveloped. A refurbished building can stand for another 10 years or more," he said.

The URA had previously hinted at moving away from smaller developments under its "demand-led" scheme, which allows flat owners to approach the authority and ask for its help. But a source close to the URA board indicated it would move towards bigger schemes in general.

If the authority came up with a comprehensive redevelopment plan for a large site, the Planning Department might allow a higher plot ratio, increasing the development density. Large schemes could also allow for more community facilities, the source said.

But such schemes would need support from the government and the Town Planning Board, the source said, as they might involve government land or require roads to be realigned.

So said smaller projects could be handled under the authority's facilitator scheme, in which the URA does not compensate owners directly but collects ownership for auction. The scheme could also be expanded to industrial buildings, he added.

The steering committee is expected to put its proposals to the board by the end of the year.

Despite the gloomy short-term picture, So said the URA still had net assets of HK$23.9 billion and could afford the HK$33 billion it would cost to implement its business plan for the next five years. If money was short, it could issue bonds, he added.

Board member James To Kun-sun urged the government to offer more financial support.

"The government gains when a community is improved with buildings of higher value," the Democratic Party lawmaker said. "Higher rates and stamp duties … will eventually increase government revenue."

The URA last recorded a deficit, of HK$4.5 billion, as the global financial crisis struck in 2008/09.
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Old June 20th, 2014, 09:16 AM   #1746
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I hope this translates into a realization of greater quality of skyscrapers and more offices building as well as residential. It's very strange that honk kong don't have projects over 200m
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Old June 21st, 2014, 06:30 PM   #1747
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I hope this translates into a realization of greater quality of skyscrapers and more offices building as well as residential. It's very strange that honk kong don't have projects over 200m
HONG KONG | New World Centre | 265m | 63 fl | U/C

HONG KONG | Hopewell Mega Tower | 210m | 55 fl | App

HONG KONG | Kwun Tong Town Centre Project | 280m | 170-140m x 4 | U/C
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 12:22 AM   #1748
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Rocco Design Architects’ New Campus Development for Chu Hai College of Higher Education to start onsite this month


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Rocco Design Architects have released renderings of their 26,500 sq m new campus development for Chu Hai College of Higher Education in Hong Kong. The scheme is due to begin onsite on 26 June 2014 with completion expected in 2016.

The nearby coast has played a prime role in the development of Rocco Design Architects’ concept with every effort made to frame views towards this magnificent view. A turfed green lawn at the centre of the campus slopes down towards the sea and provides a welcoming spot for students to gather socially or for informal lectures and performances.

The arrangement of volumes has been moulded by restrictions in the brief which states that the campus footprint must align with 'that of the existing foundations to minimise unnecessary modification to the foundations’.

As a result, the design team has proposed an unusual form with skybridges and dramatically angled projections. The larger volumes such as classrooms and libraries are housed in projecting volumes which branch out from the main bulk of the building, whilst the student union and main library are modeled as bridges, connecting the east and west slab blocks.

Connections between the various elements of the campus are organised as a ‘3-dimensional street network’, raised into the air and highly glazed. Chu Hai College of Higher Education is viewed as a ‘miniature city’ in its own right, its various programmes stacked vertically to maximise density.

Rocco Design Architects comment: “The elevation of the building reflects an authentic expression of its complex section. Formally, the cantilevers and bridges extending from the slab blocks resemble the image of a tree crown and symbolise the primitive learning space under the shade of the green canopy. Its composition and construction also resemble the inherent spirit of Chinese Calligraphy, namely the beautiful balance of solid and void in the elevation.”
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Old June 24th, 2014, 05:29 PM   #1749
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Reaching new levels
HK's development splurge offers opportunities for both fresh graduates and experienced professionals
21 June 2014
South China Morning Post

Without the skills and expertise of professionals across a vast spectrum of engineering and technical disciplines, a modern city like Hong Kong would struggle to operate efficiently.

Raymond Chan Kin-sek, president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE), says people only need look around them to see the crucial role that engineers play in everyday life. "People turn on a tap, electronic devices, travel to work on world-class transport systems and work in modern, highly functional buildings, and take it all for granted," Chan says.

Because of this, he says, the engineering profession often receives negative publicity when projects are delayed or challenges encountered. In a bid to raise the profile of engineers and attract more young people to its various disciplines, the HKIE is taking steps to enhance the profession's image and showcase engineering excellence. Chan says that through events such as "The HKIE Hi-Tech Fiesta 2014", a drive is underway to reach out to the community and other stakeholders by showcasing engineering achievements and the application of technologies in various aspects of the profession.

"We want to raise the social status of engineers, arouse the interest of the younger generation in the engineering profession and encourage them to choose engineering as their career," says Chan, who has more than 35 years' experience in civil and geotechnical engineering.

With Hong Kong in the midst of what is often described as a construction "golden age", Chan says the opportunities for engineers look promising. He says the government's commitment to capital works expenditure of more than HK$70 billion over the next few years is good news for the industry. "In addition to new bridges, roads, tunnels and rail systems, other infrastructure projects, including large-scale public housing schemes and the Kai Tak development project, will keep Hong Kong's engineering sector extremely busy."

To help young engineers advance their careers, Chan says the HKIE offers several incentives. These include scholarships allowing engineers, usually below the age of 35, to travel overseas to study master's degrees, management programmes and industry-specific courses. The HKIE has also set up a scheme that allows engineering trainees to fast-track their careers to become fully fledged HKIE corporate members in four years, instead of the traditional six.

Following graduation with a recognised degree, trainee engineers are provided with three-year structured training programmes by companies approved by the HKIE, followed by one year's post-training experience. "The system works well because we are able to ensure that graduate engineers receive high-quality training, while employers are able to attract the cream of engineering graduates," Chan says.

However, while trainee engineers can fast-track their training, Chan says people looking to join the profession still need to work on their maths, communication and interpersonal skills. "Engineers need to work with professionals across many different disciplines, including the media and even politics, so they need to be able to communicate clearly," he explains.

Lancy Chui, regional managing director at Manpower Group Greater China, says a wide range of housing, railway and infrastructure projects are currently soaking up many types of skilled professionals, including engineers. She says government projections indicate the industry will require around 10,000 extra skilled workers in the next four years if it is to meet its commitments. "Right now, the emphasis should be on candidate attraction, training and retention strategies," she says.

She adds that several data centres soon to come online in Hong Kong, and an expanding dependence on technology, is driving demand for IT professionals. Also, in addition to the long-standing presence of foreign multinational companies putting pressure on the availability of Hong Kong IT staff, mainland companies are now establishing data centres in the city for storage and routing.

"Accordingly, labour gaps exist in the IT sector, where talent possessing just two year's technical experience or above are in demand," Chui says. According to ManpowerGroup's recently released 2014 Talent Shortage Survey, IT workers ranked third in the top 10 job categories that Hong Kong employers have difficulty filling.

Meanwhile, with the announcement in March that a further 23 global and local technology companies are joining the Phase 3 development of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC), a range of new IT jobs are expected to be created.

"With our expansion in Phase 3, we will be creating many more jobs in research and development fields," says Allen Ma, CEO of HKSTPC. He adds that talent is one of the key drivers for the development of Hong Kong and that is a major reason why HKSTPC has been putting so much effort into helping to transform the tech industry by creating an environment conducive to innovation.

Levering HKSTPC's R&D resources, TCL Corporation, one of the park's three largest partners to date, will set up its major international R&D base in Phase 3, aiming to attract global R&D experts and further its reach into the major markets across Asia-Pacific. TCL will also continue to partner with local universities and research institutes with whom HKSTPC has long-standing collaborations on design, process and product innovations.

Keen to promote clean technology and make Hong Kong a cleaner, smarter city, new companies moving into the Phase 3 development include several green technology firms. HKSTPC says the new companies will continue to boost the park's role in driving the development of green technology in Hong Kong.

With the first part of Phase 3 expected to be fully operational this year, and the rest due to be finished in batches by 2016, the Science Park will be home to almost 500 companies employing more than 10,000 engineers, scientists, R&D specialists, technology entrepreneurs and support staff.
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Old June 26th, 2014, 03:51 PM   #1750
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MTR pile-driving ‘may have hit relics’
11 June 2014
South China Morning Post



Archaeological dig had not yet extended to site of latest discoveries, says construction manager

The latest relics to be discovered at a railway construction site in Kowloon City may have been hit by piles driven into the ground, the MTR has admitted.

The relics were found at the site of the To Kwa Wan station on the Sha Tin-Central line after thousands of artefacts – including an ancient well and parts of a building that may date back to the 10th century – were found in an area to be used as a tunnel shaft prompting the archaeological excavation area to be extended at the start of the year.
Rail link work may resume in weeks
25 June 2014
South China Morning Post

MTR will today begin sinking huge steel pilings to protect ancient relics following five-month delay to work on the Sha Tin-Central rail link

The MTR Corporation will today begin erecting a wall of steel pilings to protect relics found on the construction site for the future To Kwa Wan station – meaning work on the Sha Tin-Central rail link could resume within weeks.

The decision was made after meetings with the Development Bureau.

Work on the link is already five months behind schedule after the relics, including an ancient well and parts of a building that may date back to the 10th century, were discovered.

However, at a meeting of the Antiquities Advisory Board yesterday, some members voiced concern about the MTR’s plans to drive steel piling 12 metres into the ground surrounding the relics.

Dr Philco Wong, MTR’s general manager for the project, reassured them technology that cuts out noise and vibrations would be used to protect the relics from damage during the process.

He added that devices to detect vibration and ground settlement would be installed, experienced workers would be deployed to handle the job and there would be full-time supervision of the site. The well would also be filled with sand to prevent distortion and sand bags would be placed on the outside.

The sheet piles would take about two or three weeks to install, he said, and this would then allow the MTR to continue with its tunnel work.

Members were also concerned that the piling would be sunk as close as 1.8 metres to the well. They also asked if the MTR had any contingency plan if abnormal vibration was detected.

Board chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo responded: “We’re not totally without concerns on this option, but we understand it is the best way so far.”

Wong said if the vibration level at the site was found to be too high, the MTR would slowly remove the soil surrounding the well before burying the piling. But he added that this method could make the well vulnerable to adverse weather.

He also said that if the relics were to be preserved in situ, the design of the To Kwa Wan station would have to be altered.

At a meeting of the Legislative Council’s development panel yesterday, the Development Bureau submitted a document revealing that remains of a water channel system had been found earlier this month near the well.

The system includes a water channel and a tank, and the date and function of it is being studied, it said. Excavation at the area should be completed in autumn, it added.

The document said that the Highways Department and the MTR were studying work adjustment, construction methods and the modification of the station design.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po told the meeting that after the excavation, the Antiquities and Monuments Office would study with experts the historic value of the relics. The Antiquity Advisory Board would be consulted before a decision is made on how best to preserve the relics.
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Old June 28th, 2014, 05:30 PM   #1751
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Tseung Kwan O waterfront
By fdsafdsa from dcfever :

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Old June 28th, 2014, 07:49 PM   #1752
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Tseung Kwan O waterfront
By fdsafdsa from dcfever :

What do they build there?
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Old June 29th, 2014, 08:31 AM   #1753
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What do they build there?
A lot of skyscraper housing to be built. This photo shows several plots of land subdivided and sold to various developers / consortium of developers.

See post 1625 for more information. The photo corresponds to the below plot division diagram :



The photographer is at the top middle looking towards the bottom right corner.
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Old July 1st, 2014, 05:15 AM   #1754
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interesting archeology findings
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Old July 3rd, 2014, 02:55 PM   #1755
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Stanley's Boathouse in line for a launch as boutique hotel
The Standard
Thursday, July 03, 2014



The Boathouse, a landmark restaurant in Stanley, is set to be transformed into a 10-story seaview hotel by the Miramar Group.

A document from the Town Planning Board has revealed the firm applied to build a boutique hotel at the present location of the two-story Boathouse on the corner of 86 and 88 Stanley Main Street.

The site area is approximately 1,620 square feet with a plot ratio of 8.775 times at most. That could yield a gross floor area of about 14,200 square feet.

The Miramar Group's intention is to create a hotel with 28 guest rooms.

The group had secured 88 Stanley Main Street by late 2010 for HK$64 million.

But 86 Stanley Main Street is held by a private company owned by Ralph Shea, an independent non-executive director of listed company Power Assets.

The Town Planning Board had approved for the sites of 88 and 86 Stanley Main Street to be used for building a hotel in 2006 and 2010 respectively .

According to the 2010 plan, 86 Stanley Main Street was to be built as a mini hotel with six rooms. Four rooms would be ensuite and two would be for disabled people.

Should the project go through according to plan, it will be the Miramar's third hotel in Hong Kong.

Recently, Miramar renovated the Mira Hong Kong, its hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, which dates back more 50 years.

It also took over the operations of Mira Moon, a boutique hotel owned by affiliate Henderson Land in Wan Chai.

Planning on similar lines to the Boathouse, the owners of the sites at 103 to 107 Tam Kung Road in Ma Tau Wai have applied to build a boutique hotel there.
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Old July 4th, 2014, 12:24 AM   #1756
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I did a forum search under the supertall section for "Hong Kong", I guess we're not going to see any new supertalls come up in the near future for Hong Kong?
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Old July 4th, 2014, 06:33 PM   #1757
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I did a forum search under the supertall section for "Hong Kong", I guess we're not going to see any new supertalls come up in the near future for Hong Kong?
A couple projects near 300m but nothing else more than that. There are a lot of shorter commercial buildings under construction in Kowloon East though.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 07:23 AM   #1758
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Chinese developers muscle in on Hong Kong as mainland market slows



HONG KONG, July 2 (Reuters) - Chinese developers are moving aggressively into Hong Kong, outbidding their cross-border rivals for prime sites as policy uncertainty and falling property prices on the mainland send them scouring for opportunities to invest overseas.

The mainlanders see the southern territory as a lucrative market based on the absolute earnings enjoyed by Hong Kong-listed developers, which have beaten those of companies listed in mainland China over the past decade.

With some bids up to 20 percent above analysts' forecasts, mainland companies such as state-controlled Poly Property Group Co Ltd are pushing up prices for popular sites in one of the world's most expensive real estate markets.

Fears of a bubble - prices have more than doubled in the Asian financial hub since 2008 - have proven no deterrent, while forecasts from some analysts of a 10 percent drop in prices this year have fallen on deaf ears.

But fatter margins aren't the only thing Hong Kong has to offer. Chinese developers also like its legal stability and status as a world city, giving them a platform to gain experience abroad and build brand awareness, industry watchers say.

"More and more Chinese developers are coming to Hong Kong," said Alvin Yip, managing director of investment and advisory services at property consultancy DTZ.

"They are not coming only for opportunities in Hong Kong, but also using Hong Kong as a base to invest in Europe, the United States and other parts of the world."

In Kai Tak district - one of Hong Kong's largest developments covering 320 hectares (790 acres) of residential and commercial complexes - half of the six available land plots were bought over the past year by state-owned developers, including China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd and Poly Property.

While hard data is not yet available to quantify the trend, it is rare to see mainland developers so active in public auctions of Hong Kong land. Observers also have been surprised by the mainlanders' willingness to out-spend their Hong Kong rivals.

In May, a luxury residential site on Hong Kong island fetched the city's fifth-highest land price per square foot when it was sold to a consortium of local and mainland Chinese developers, including Hui Wing-mau, chairman of Shanghai-based Shimao Property Holdings', and mainland commercial developer Mingfa Group International.

"The premium price they (Chinese developers) offered surprised the market," said a senior executive at a Hong Kong property company, which was out-bid by state-owned developers in several land auctions.

"Chinese developers are more optimistic, while locals remain pessimistic due to uncertainty in the market," said the executive, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

China Overseas Land declined to comment, while Poly did not respond to several interview requests.

MARGINS SQUEEZED

Mainland investors are boosting their exposure to Hong Kong just as the city's homegrown developers have started to slow their own pace of site purchases, in response to rising land prices, sliding sales and pressure on margins from competition.

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong (Holdings) did not buy anything in Hong Kong or China last year - for the first time in 15 years.

Another major Hong Kong-based developer, Sino Land Co Ltd , spent just HK$4.5 billion ($580.53 million) on land over the past two years, a slower rate of spending than normally would be expected, according to Macquarie. It also became a net cash developer, taking a conservative position by amassing enough cash to invest in future projects after total liabilities are accounted for.

The local firms' caution has opened opportunities for mainland rivals seeking a more stable investment environment than they have at home, where the government has introduced a raft of regulations to control rampant speculation.

China has spent more than four years trying to tame record home prices on concerns that they were stoking an asset bubble, with measures including strict rules for mortgages and restrictions on the number of homes that one family can own. Banks have made it harder for home buyers and small developers to get loans.

"We always have full confidence in Hong Kong. We just recently bought a piece of land in Wan Chai," Yu Liang, president of the country's biggest developer, China Vanke Co Ltd , said in May, referring to a residential site near Hong Kong's Central business district. Media reports said it paid a 20 percent premium to similar sites recently sold in the area.

The company's Hong Kong subsidiary last year set a new record for prices in Tsuen Wan district when it bought a residential site in partnership with Hong Kong's New World Development for HK$3.4 billion.

Analysts warned, however, that the new Chinese entrants may have to sacrifice margins in order to gain a foothold in the city, where overall home transactions are expected to hit a more than five-year low in the first half of 2014 and construction costs are soaring due to labour shortages.

"They may be willing to sacrifice margins for their first one or two projects in town," Macquarie property analyst Raymond Liu said in a research note in May.

"New entrants may have low or even no margin expectations versus local developers."
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Old July 5th, 2014, 09:27 PM   #1759
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Citigroup buys $700mln Asia HQ in record Hong Kong office deal



HONG KONG, June 17 (Reuters) - Citigroup will pay HK$5.425 billion ($699.86 million) for its new Hong Kong headquarters, in the largest ever purchase of a single-block office building in the Asian financial hub, the U.S. bank said on Tuesday.

A unit of developer Wheelock and Co Ltd is building the twin One Bay East towers in Hong Kong's Kowloon district, with Citi taking the East Tower and insurer Manulife (International) Limited already the West.

The 21-storey building will become Citi's new hub for all its businesses in Hong Kong, where the U.S. bank said it employs almost 5,000 people, making it the biggest employer among foreign banks in the city.

Citi becomes the fourth major global bank to move its Hong Kong headquarters out of the city's increasingly expensive Central district, to the Kowloon area across the harbour.

Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley have all moved from Central to the 118-floor International Commerce Centre in Kowloon in the last four years amid rising rents in Central.

Owning the building outright will help Citi protect itself against Hong Kong's notoriously volatile property market, Citi Hong Kong Chief Executive Weber Lo said in an internal memo to staff seen by Reuters.

"Our decision to purchase the East Tower of One Bay East underlines our belief and confidence in Hong Kong's continued growth as a leading global financial centre," said Stephen Bird, Citi's Chief Executive for Asia Pacific in a statement on Tuesday.

Hong Kong's government said on May 22 it had no intention of easing property cooling measures in the city, where prices have surged nearly 120 percent since 2008 due to an ultra-low interest rate environment, tight supply and abundant liquidity.

Citi will move into the new One Bay East building in the second half of 2016 following completion of construction in the third quarter of next year, it said.

($1 = 7.7515 Hong Kong dollars)
Notice the twin short buildings U/C on the left :


Flickr 上 nWalker8220140705_165927
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Old July 6th, 2014, 05:59 PM   #1760
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^ another one

By wwh11 from dcfever :

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