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Old July 7th, 2014, 05:59 PM   #1761
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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.
Pottery found at To Kwa Wan shows city was trading hub back in Song dynasty
South China Morning Post
6 July 2014

Ancient pottery from the site of the planned To Kwa Wan railway station gives a rare glimpse into everyday life during the Southern Song (1127-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties, according to an expert.

While most attention on the Kowloon City site of the Sha Tin-Central MTR link has focused on built structures, Professor Peter Lam Yip-keung, a retired director of Chinese University's Art Museum, yesterday gave a public lecture on the ceramics that have been uncovered.

Thousands of items have been unearthed at the 23,000 square metre site. Lam inspected the relics at the invitation of the Antiquities and Monuments Office.

After comparing the Kowloon City finds with pottery previously unearthed in other parts of China and Asia, he concluded that they were makes from Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangxi.

The discoveries provided evidence of Hong Kong's trade with these four areas, he said.

Products for everyday use - including bowls and jars - and for burial, religious ceremonies and trade were identified in the find.

"It has been documented that Hong Kong had become a transport hub since the Tang dynasty [618-907]," Lam said. "Tuen Mun was an outport of Guangzhou, and Fat Tong Mun [in Sai Kung] was a transit point for Fujian and Zhejiang ships entering Guangdong. The finds at the [former] Sacred Hill site are mostly related to trade," he said.

A pair of intact incense burners dating back to the late Song or Yuan dynasty was among the discoveries, Lam added.

Eaves tiles from the same period have also been found, proving the existence of buildings with tile roofs in the present Kai Tak area.

Pointing to the significance of the latest dig, Lam said: "The scale and variety of ceramics dating back to the late Southern Song and Yuan dynasties found at Sacred Hill is unprecedented."
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Old July 9th, 2014, 03:05 PM   #1762
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New bid to halt MTR in tracks
The Standard
Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A concern group wants the MTR Corp to stop excavation work at To Kwa Wan on what will be the Sha Tin-Central line until an archaeological study is finished at a historical site there.

Sacred Hill Savers said more than 3,000 ancient relics have been secured, but many more were damaged by MTR digging.

Five representatives of the group yesterday handed over a petition at the MTR headquarters in Kowloon Bay. In it, they urge a halt to work and changes to the design of the To Kwa Wan station. They also criticize a team led by mainland archaeologist Liu Wen-suo for a lack of planning.

"We're worried because they have dug a lot of shafts," said Sacred Hill Savers spokesman Mac Ho Ho-sum.

Group members met representatives of the Development Bureau on June 30 and said the site should be listed as a proposed monument and work halted pending a permit from the Antiquities Authority. But officials rejected that, they said.

The MTRC has said work continues under the supervision of the Archaeological and Monuments Office, with some construction suspended. And Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po told legislators that archaeological work should be finished this year to provide insights on the heritage value.
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Old July 10th, 2014, 03:45 PM   #1763
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One Bay East

By runner2012 from dcfever :

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Old July 18th, 2014, 05:33 PM   #1764
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Tai Po discounts top 15pc
The Standard
Friday, July 18, 2014







Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) priced units at its Mont Vert project in Tai Po as low as HK$1.65 million yesterday after discounts.

A 194-sellable-sq-ft unit is among the first batch of 260 flats being put on the market. Buyers of three-bedroom units have priority to buy studio flats.

The first batch of the 1,071-unit project going on sale includes two-bedroom or three-bedroom flats, as well as 43 studio flats. Sellable area for the flats ranges from 194 to 945 square feet. Flats cost between HK$1.65 million and HK$8.70 million with maximum discounts of 15 percent.

Executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung said the pricing is about 30 percent lower than the market price in the area.

Meanwhile, the Sales of First-hand Residential Properties Authority reminded potential buyers to look at the flat before signing the provisional purchase deal.

It came after the authority noticed that Cheung Kong was requiring potential buyers to sign a no-visit agreement, baring them from seeing the flat they want to buy before signing the provisional contract.

The authority said the developer could face charges.

Cheung Kong Holdings said last night that the second phase of Mont Vert, which shares the same entrance and exit with the first phase, is still under construction. As it would be unsafe and impractical for buyers to enter the construction area, it would arrange buyers to visit the area around the project instead, it said.

The units will be on sale from July 26 and the show flats open for viewing today.
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Old July 19th, 2014, 08:37 PM   #1765
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Sight-unseen flats are legal, says developer
19 July 2014
South China Morning Post

The builder of Hong Kong’s cheapest new flats says circumstances make it OK to sell them without the advance viewing usually required by law

Hong Kong’s largest developer, Cheung Kong, defended its decision to prohibit prospective buyers from viewing flats in a new development, saying it did not break the law.

The company was adamant that it would not change the sales arrangement for the Mont Vert residential project in Tai Po, which requires people interested in buying a flat to sign a “no-viewing agreement”.

The development includes some of Hong Kong’s cheapest new flats, with a 194 sq ft studio selling for as little as HK$1.94 million. The first batch of 260 will be offered next Saturday.

Hong Kong law requires developers to allow potential buyers to view the actual flat or a comparable unit in a completed project. If they can’t do that, they must seek the consent of the prospective buyers to go ahead sight-unseen, something Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung characterised as a last resort.

But Justin Chiu Kowk-hung, an executive director at Cheung Kong, said the company was complying with the law by being transparent about the lack of available flats to show.

“Those who believe we do not supply sufficient information about the project should delay their purchase,” he said.

“Due to consideration of the safety of prospective buyers, it is not reasonably practicable to open the project for public viewing as the construction work of the phase-two development is still going on inside the site.”

Cheung Kong did create two model flats at its sales office in Hung Hom, but not at the site.

Cheung said the government took the case very seriously.

“The passage of the Residential Properties (First-hand sales) Ordinance [in 2012] was to ensure flat buyers as consumers would be protected,” he said.

Compounding the problems with advance viewing, the Sales and First-hand Residential Properties Authority (SRPA) alerted prospective buyers yesterday to the existence of grave sites near two of the towers in the new development.

Brochures for the development made clear the graves’ existence, but prospective buyers would not be able to see them without visiting the site.

Cheung said the SRPA would decide whether Cheung Kong violated the law after studying the developer’s explanation and seeking legal advice.

One potential buyer said Cheung Kong should let people in her position inspect the actual flats they would be buying.

“Show flats of such kind are a publicity stunt. A friend of mine decided to purchase a residential property after visiting a show flat and later felt deceived after spotting huge discrepancies between the two,” she said.
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Old July 20th, 2014, 05:30 PM   #1766
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Many keen to buy flats they can't view, as big crowd at Mont Vert sales office shows
20 July 2014
South China Morning Post

A big crowd turned out to view off-site show flats for Cheung Kong's cut-price Mont Vert development yesterday despite concern in some quarters that the sales tactics of the developer are questionable.

Long queues formed at the Fortune Metropolis mall in Hung Hom, where Cheung Kong, controlled by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, is marketing the Tai Po development. By Friday, over 1,200 applications had been received for balloting to buy the 260 Phase 1 flats for sale, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported. Sales begin on July 26.

Whether the firm violated the law in not allowing prospective buyers to see the flats seemed to have had little effect on people's desire to buy, said Lawrence Poon, a City University senior lecturer in building science and technology.

The development includes some of Hong Kong's cheapest new flats, with a 194 sq ft studio selling for about HK$1.94 million. READ: No room to swing a cat: What life might look like in one of Hong Kong's new 177sqft flats

People could still buy flats there, but that was a separate matter from whether Cheung Kong broke the law, said Poon.

Cheung Kong may have violated the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance, said Poon. The law requires developers to make every home at a completed new development available for viewing.

Cheung Kong can avoid violating the law by demonstrating that it was not practical to allow prospective buyers to view the flats, in which case it would be required to obtain prospective buyers' written consent to buy the flats without seeing them.

Cheung Kong executives said yesterday it was not feasible to let people in for viewing, as there was only a one-way road connecting the site and Phase 2 construction was ongoing, making it unsafe.

"It may not be safe to see the development, but that is not a good defence," Poon said, adding that it was within Cheung Kong's control to enable prospective buyers to view the Phase 1 flats because the company could have halted construction or delayed the sales programme.

Cheung Kong had not had notification from the Hong Kong government that the company had done anything illegal over the project, said Cheung Kong executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung. "The government didn't say we did anything illegal. The government said we were not perfect," he said.
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Old July 21st, 2014, 03:11 PM   #1767
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Mont Vert sized up 11 times over
The Standard
Monday, July 21, 2014

Potential buyers have warmly welcomed Cheung Kong (0001) project Mont Vert despite being denied access to the exact unit they want to purchase.

Authorities have warned the developer it could be breaking the law.

Cheung Kong yesterday priced another 117 units at the Tai Po project, taking total flats available for sale to 377.

It reportedly received more than 4,200 subscriptions since Friday, marking 11-time oversubscription.

Prices range from HK$6,909 to HK$9,747 per sellable square foot after a maximum discount of 15 percent - more than 20 percent below market prices in the area.

The first units to be put on the market at the project were studio flats, sized as small as 177 sellable sq ft.

Potential buyers were then asked to sign an agreement barring them from visiting the project site.

Cheung Kong executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung emphasized that the site is still under construction and is neither safe nor ready for client visits. The developer has arranged shuttle buses from its showroom in Hung Hom for interested buyers to take a look around the construction site in Tai Po.

Midland Realty residentials chief executive Sammy Po Siu-ming noted that very few buyers decided against submitting subscriptions due to the no-visit condition, and upgraders - those seeking to sell their current homes to buy a better unit - accounted for about 70 percent of subscribers.

Meanwhile, Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) will put two houses at Twelve Peaks out for tender tomorrow.

No reference price for the two houses, sized about 3,700 sellable sq ft, was revealed. Rebate on the stamp duty will be up to 11.75 percent.

In the secondary market, only 15 homes were sold during the weekend at the 10 major estates tracked by Midland Realty, down from 21 last week.

Centaline Property Agency also saw deals at the 10 major estates it tracks fall.

Deals dropped to 20, from 24 a week earlier, with 13 of those at Taikoo Shing.

Residentials chief executive Louis Chan Wing-kit said more homeowners are becoming reluctant to cut pricing too much, leading to lower sales.
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Old July 24th, 2014, 04:44 PM   #1768
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Property sale tests for big and small
The Standard
Thursday, July 24, 2014









Le Riviera

More new projects are to be put on the market as Hip Shing Hong will price its 98-unit Le Riviera on Friday and Kerry Properties (0683) gears up to sell units at 8 LaSalle from September.

Around 70 percent of the flats at Hip Shing Hong's Shau Kei Wan project are small sized, said managing director David Fong Man- hung yesterday.

Target buyers include the young and new families. Showflats will be open for public viewing on Friday, when the price list will be released.

Kerry's 56-unit Ho Man Tin luxury - 8 La Salle - offers 39 three-bedroom flats along with 13 two-bedroom flats ranging from 600 to 1,020 sellable square feet. Four special units are sized about 1,700 sellable square feet.

In the secondary market, a duplex unit at Celestial Heights, also in Ho Man Tin, saw a loss of HK$24.7 million. The mainland seller is said to have bought the 3,150-sellable-square-foot flat with a garden for HK$62 million in 2009.

It was sold to a foreigner for HK$40 million.

Midland Realty estimated 7,300 flats were completed in the first half, much higher than the 1,500 flats built a year back. Among them, up to 5,800 are in the New Territories.

In other action, Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) cashed in one billion yuan (HK$1.25 billion) from its Beijing project, La Grande Ville, since May. It sold 90 units at 30,000 to 37,000 yuan per square meter. It has decided to launch a new batch of units and expects them to be priced 3 to 5 percent higher.
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Old July 29th, 2014, 05:14 PM   #1769
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Package sales for studios scrapped
The Standard
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mont Vert units with less than 200 sellable square feet will be sold separately instead of in a package, says Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung.

He said some three-bedroom buyers had no interest in buying the studio flats, sized similar to a "subdivided flat," in a package touted for big families to live close to each other.

Meanwhile, the developer launched 11 four-bedroom units of 932 to 935 sellable square feet with a price tag starting at HK$8.31 million. So far 435 flats, or 88 percent of the first batch of 492 units, have been sold.

Meanwhile, Park Signature, a project by New World Development (0017) in Yuen Long, will put out the last batch of 21 two- room units tomorrow, with prices starting from HK$5.13 million.

More than 97 percent, or 1,373 units, have been sold, bringing in HK$6.1 billion since sales began in August.

Metro6 in Hung Hom from Hong Kong Ferry (0050) will also sell a second batch of 30 units tomorrow on a first-come, first- served basis.

The price is between HK$5.9 million and HK$7.17 million.

Fortune Real Estate Investment Trust (0778), chaired by Chiu, expects lease renewals to continue to grow this year. Chiu said at a briefing that more than 70 percent of tenants have renewed leases this year.

He added the firm, which owns 17 malls across the territory, does not plan to acquire shopping centers in the mainland in the near future since it is not familiar with the market.

The REIT saw interim distributable income at June 30 climb 27.2 percent to HK$390.5 million this year, thanks to strong rental growth.

Shares of Fortune REIT reached a year- high and closed at HK$7.35 yesterday, up 1.1 percent.
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Old August 4th, 2014, 04:14 PM   #1770
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Hot weekend for flat sales
The Standard
Monday, August 04, 2014

Hong Kong saw a boisterous property market in the first weekend of August, amid five launches.

Cheung Kong's (0001) Mont Vert I, in Tai Po, sold 140 in a second batch of 246 units on Saturday.

Prices ranged from HK$8,177 to HK$11,884 per sellable square foot. Nine buyers from the first batch, launched on 26 July, canceled their purchases, forfeiting HK$2.25 million in deposits.

Le Riviera, in Shau Kei Wan, launched the first batch of 30 units on Saturday, 21 of which were sold on the same day.

Hip Shing Hong is offering another 30 flats at the 98-unit project without raising prices, which average HK$18,457 per sellable square foot, with an entry price of HK$4.54 million for a 274 sellable sq ft flat.

In Sai Ying Pun, Eivissa Crest, by Far East Consortium International (0035), sold two units after releasing 12 units at HK$25,000 per sellable sq ft on average.

Yuen Long The Reach, developed by New World Development (0017) and Henderson Land Development (0012), received 27 orders after launching 60 units, cashing in HK$126 million.

New World's Park Signature, also in Yuen Long, sold two units.

Sino Land's (0083) Mayfair By The Sea II, in Tai Po, got three deals and Sun Hung Kai Properties' (0016) Residence 88 sold one unit of 931 square feet at HK$10,416 per sellable sq ft.

The secondary market, however, did not show much movement. Ricacorp Properties recorded 13 deals in the 10 major estates it tracks, up two on the previous weekend.
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Old August 14th, 2014, 04:22 PM   #1771
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Mixed messages on sites as big bidders hang back
The Standard
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two sites in Tsuen Wan and Ma On Shan have been sold for as little as a combined HK$4.37 billion or about HK$3,700 per buildable square foot.

Tenders for the two lots closed last Friday, drawing 11 offers for the Tsuen Wan site and 16 for that at Ma On Shan.

Billion Development outbid property giants such as Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) and Henderson Land (0012) and won the commercial-cum-residential site with a gross floor area of 1.07 million square feet in Yeung Uk Road, Tsuen Wan, at HK$3.94 billion, lower than the market estimate.

The market earlier valued the land at a minimum of HK$4.53 billion or about HK$4,250 per sq ft.

Valuation went as high as HK$6.1 billion or HK$5,717 psf.

The plot cost HK$3,693 per buildable sq ft, down 27 percent from Tsuen Wan West's TW6, which was tendered out at HK$5,087 psf in January last year.

Billion Development said it will invest more than HK$10 billion in the site and development is expected to be completed in four years.

The developer said the price is definitely not cheap and the company bid for the plot for its flexible use between residential and commercial development.

The average price of a flat in the district is now HK$8,974 per sellable sq ft.

James Cheung King-tat of Centaline Surveyors said developers are worried that a government plan to limit mainland tourists will be bad for hotels.

Together with the coming completion of projects that were tendered out the past few years, an abundant supply of flats is expected in the district.

Hence property giants were more conservative with their bids, allowing smaller developers to win the tender at lower prices.

Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tsz-bun expects the developer to build mainly one- and two-bedroom flats with average size of 536 sq ft.

Meanwhile, Wang On Group (1222), partnering Kam Wah Sure Win, won another residential site in Ma On Shan at a higher-than-expected price of HK$428 million.

The 33,368 sq ft site in Hang Kwong Street was tendered at HK$3,719 per buildable sq ft.

The market estimated the land to cost between HK$380 million and HK$425 million  or HK$3,300 and HK$3,693 psf.

A minimum of 180 flats will have to be built on the site.
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Old August 17th, 2014, 05:29 PM   #1772
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Artificial beach in Lung Mei gets green light despite environmental worries
13 August 2014
South China Morning Post

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Plans to build a man-made beach at Lung Mei in Tolo Harbour cleared a legal hurdle yesterday, when the courts dismissed a judicial challenge filed by green activists striving to protect the local ecology.

The activists vowed to consider other options to preserve the coastal area in Tai Po, although they had not decided whether to appeal against the ruling.

"We are extremely dismayed by the judgment," Ho Loy, who lodged the judicial review on behalf of the Save Lung Mei Alliance, said after the Court of First Instance delivered its verdict.

"As for whether [further] legal action is the best option, we'll have to study it as a team first, but if we can find a better way, we will definitely choose that."

The idea of an artificial beach at Lung Mei came from Tai Po District Council, which wanted to cater for residents without access to a bathing beach. It will stretch for 200 metres, with room for 4,000 swimmers.

Activists doubt the ecological value of the site has been properly assessed, after they registered sightings of a rare seahorse and rare species of fish in the area.

Their application for the judicial review came long after the Environmental Protection Department issued a permit back in 2010 for works to start and after lawmakers had approved project funds of HK$200 million in 2012.

Before turning to the courts, the alliance last year sought to get the Environmental Protection Department head and the chief executive in council - meaning acting in consultation with the Executive Council - to exercise their powers to cancel the permit.

One of the arguments raised by the alliance was the lack of a specific ecological evaluation on a rare creature known as the spotted seahorse in an assessment of the coast approved by the director in 2008.

The absence of such an evaluation made the environmental assessment "incomplete, misleading and wrong". The project could result in more adverse impacts on the local ecology, the alliance said.

Yesterday, Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung dismissed Ho's challenge of the refusals by the director and the chief executive in council to revoke the permit.

In a 48-page written judgment, Au said their refusals were neither illegal nor unreasonable.

He said an assessment of the seahorse was not a mandatory requirement under the law and the director had made a professional judgment on the need for it.

Au also said the chief executive in council had considered all opinions presented to it in coming to the conclusion that the beach project would not adversely affect the ecology of Lung Mei.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department said it "noted" the judgment, which it believed could further establish the "legality" of the project and ease public concerns about it.

"We will continue to monitor the situation, and push ahead with the construction as fast and as practically as possible," a spokeswoman said.

"We will also assess the impacts of the judicial review on the costs and work progress."

A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said it welcomed the verdict.
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Old August 18th, 2014, 04:16 PM   #1773
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Old August 21st, 2014, 04:45 PM   #1774
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Tuen Mun sites hot property
The Standard
Thursday, August 21, 2014





Two sites in Tuen Mun were sold at higher than estimated prices yesterday, with one breaking a record for the district with the price per sellable square foot standing at HK$11,559.

The price of the Lok Chui Street site is more than 60 percent higher than the land parcel in Kwun Fung Street in the same district, which sold at HK$7,119 psf last year.



The low-rise development was awarded to Treasure Mega Ltd for HK$156 million. It had been expected to go for between HK$44.5 and HK$135 million.

The Lok Chui Street site has an area of 1,044.6 square meters and has been designated for private residential use. The minimum and maximum gross floor areas are 752 and 1,253 square meters. The property must not be higher than three stories.



A commercial-cum-residential site in Yan Ching street was awarded to Hoyden Holdings, a unit of CSI Properties (0497), for HK$427 million, or HK$5,307 psf. It was earlier estimated to fetch between HK$220 and HK$360 million.

The two sites together brought in HK$538.54 million to the government.

CSI Properties executive director Jimmy Fong Man-bun said the company will spend up to HK$1 billion on the project and build either one- or two-bedroom flats with an average sellable area of 500 square feet. He thinks the site in Tuen Mun town center is rare and expects to benefit from the Hong Kong-Zuhai-Macau Bridge to be completed in 2016. Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tsz-pan expected the sellabe area per square foot of the properties could reach HK$20,000.

The Yan Ching Street site, close to an MTR station, beat estimates because there is a difference of opinion on shop value, Lam added. The site is in the town center and many people walk by every day.

The site occupies an area of 1,174 square meters and at least 125 units are to be built for the non-industrial purposes only.

The minimum gross floor area is 4,227 square meters and the maximum gross floor area for non-industrial purposes is 1,174 square meters.
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Old August 23rd, 2014, 02:09 PM   #1775
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Dolphins splash a big plan for north Lantau
The Standard
Friday, August 22, 2014





Reclamation around north Lantau's Siu Ho Wan is set to be changed after the discovery of white dolphin activity there.

Siu Ho Wan is within a commercial area envisaged by the Lantau Development Advisory Committee.

But another environmental study is necessary on reclamation and white dolphins, permanent secretary for development Wai Chi-sing said yesterday.

A first study suggested shallow water near Siu Ho Wan meant dolphin activity was rare. But dolphins have been seen in an area with depths of up to 10 meters.

Wai said the new assessment report that the dolphins sightings made necessary will be ready at the end of the year.

It will also include the effects of an envisaged third runway at Chek Lap Kok.

He also said the Lantau advisory panel has received 91 ideas about development, tourism, the environment, transport and employment on the island.

Among them, a member of the advisory committee suggested a zoo at Shui Hau. That sparked interest, Wai said, but "what kind of animals can live there?"

Still, a water sports center is seen to hold real promise, while zip-line routes, paragliding and mountain biking are candidates along with hotels.
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Old August 27th, 2014, 04:03 PM   #1776
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Blasts drama as wartime bomb found
The Standard
Wednesday, August 27, 2014







Two controlled explosions were carried out at North Point to make a powerful wartime bomb safe.

The device, measuring 1.5 meters in length and 15 centimeters in circumference, was found by a construction worker at a building site yesterday.

Officers from the Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau went to the site after receiving a call at 1.30pm.

Lanes on Java Road and the Eastern Corridor were closed and firefighters put on standby.

Police said the power of the bomb was sufficient enough to cause severe damage to the surrounding area if protective measures taken had proved insufficient.

The first controlled explosion was unsuccessful but officers heaved a sigh of relief with their second attempt.

"More than 100 sandbags used in the disposal of the bomb were destroyed," Suryanto Chin-chiu, of the bomb disposal unit, said.

Devices from World War II are often found.
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Old August 28th, 2014, 08:30 PM   #1777
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Probe into villagers’ felling of mangrove
26 August 2014
South China Morning Post



Planning authorities are investigating whether the felling of a mangrove at a north Lantau bay on Sunday was a breach of town planning rules.

Rare flora and fauna are protected under a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) designation covering Tai Ho Wan and surrounding land and streams.

The Planning Department said yesterday it would investigate whether felling of the mangrove by villagers protesting over restrictions on the use of their land had breached the rules.

“If it is proved to be unauthorised … we will take appropriate enforcement action,” a department spokesman said, as villagers threatened more action if officials refused to meet them. Town Planning Board member Eddie Hui Chi-man said it was highly likely the villagers’ actions had breached the rules.

“Any change [of terrain] is likely to violate the original objective of the statutory plan,” he told Cable TV.

Tai Ho Wan and its three streams were designated but not zoned as a site of special scientific interest in 1999.

Under interim zoning plans for the area gazetted in March, an SSSI covering 4.5 hectares was demarcated. No land, ponds or streams in the SSSI can be filled or diverted.

Dozens of villagers brought in excavators and felled trees, including the mangrove at the mouth of the bay, on Sunday in protest at the move.

The current SSSI, administered by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, aims to conserve and protect features of special scientific interest such as rare fauna and flora, but is not strictly enforced.

A breach of the Town Planning Ordinance could bring a fine of up to HK$500,000.

At stake is a 1.1 hectare plot of private communal land in the SSSI that is now partly submerged. An additional 0.3 hectares of dry private land south of the lot also falls within the SSSI.

Villagers say they want to farm the land again but their land-use rights will be restricted.

Residents blame construction of the North Lantau Highway in the 1990s for blocking discharge from the river and flooding coastal farmland, forming the mudflats and mangroves that prompted green groups and the government to recognise the site as one of high ecological value.

“The felling of trees [on Sunday] was 100 per cent conducted on private communal land,” said indigenous villager Ray Lam of Ngau Kwu Long village. Similar protests would be held if senior government officials refused to meet them.

“You can call us impudent, but we have the rights. All we want now is to have the land zoned for agricultural use,” Lam said. “Our voice was never heard by the government 15 years ago. We won’t take this any more.”

He said the government was trying to mislead the public by ignoring the fact that “half of the land inside the SSSI was privately owned communal land” that villagers eventually want to farm again.

The Tai Ho stream and bay area was ranked by the government in 2004 as the third most ecologically important site in Hong Kong, following Mai Po Nature Reserve and Sha Lo Tung.
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Old September 1st, 2014, 07:19 PM   #1778
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Group demands idle plots for homes
The Standard
Monday, September 01, 2014

A protest was staged in Sham Shui Po against a ban on building temporary housing on idle land.

About 30 members of the Care Group for the N-Nothings gathered outside the office of district councillor Chan Wai-ming calling for help for poor families.

The group pointed to a dozen sites in Sham Shui Po totaling more than 36,000 square meters that could take 2,286 homes.

Temporary homes in module style would offer generally better places than similarly priced public housing units, it was claimed.

In view of a lack of land, "why don't they make good use of these idle plots?" asked N-Nothing spokesman Cheng Leung-biu. It would take a year to construct temporary homes.

Lam Chi-yau, aged 58, said and his wife pay HK$2,000 a month for a cubicle on Castle Peak Road. "I've waited for public housing since 2009," he said.

The housing idea went to Sham Shui Po District Council in May but was rejected by 12 votes to six. One member said temporary homes would be a step back.
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Old September 2nd, 2014, 06:54 PM   #1779
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Developers' terms 'pushing up building costs'
2 September 2014
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong builders say increasingly onerous demands and "unfair" contractual terms imposed by developers have contributed to a sharp rise in costs that have helped make the city the most expensive place in the world for construction.

Soaring wages and strong demand due to massive public building projects had long been blamed for pushing up costs, but Thomas Ho, president of the Construction Association, said the industry was also suffering as developers shifted responsibilities to their contractors.

He said some developers demanded exceptionally long warranties - in some cases as much as 50 years after completion - and insisted maintenance services be provided for 18 or even 24 years, rather than the usual 12.

Some also demanded that contractors bear the risks and costs of delays, without any option to seek compensation from developers.

More worryingly, Ho said, some developers were passing more design-related work on to contractors, an activity some building companies were unfamiliar with.

"This will increase the risks borne by the contractors and will lead to higher costs. The risks should be shared by various parties," he said.

A survey by British consultancy EC Harris last year found that Hong Kong had surpassed Switzerland and Denmark to have the world's highest construction costs, with regional rival Singapore far behind.

The association fears rising costs - bolstered by massive government infrastructure projects and public and private-sector homebuilding - could harm the sector in the long run.

Labour costs rose 27 per cent in the past three years while material costs rose 24 per cent, an analysis commissioned for the association in June showed.

The study, by University of Hong Kong real estate and construction expert Professor Steve Rowlinson, showed that labour typically accounted for 20 to 25 per cent of the cost of construction, against 40 to 45 per cent for materials. The rest goes on management, insurance, overheads, risk contingencies and statutory requirements.

Ho repeated the association's warning that the industry faced a serious and mounting labour shortage, leaving it short of at least 10,000 workers. The industry has sought an easing of the laws on recruiting workers from overseas, which Ho described as too restrictive and inflexible to deal with sudden demand.

He said workers with experience of dealing with concrete had seen their pay increase by as much as 70 per cent in the last three years.

Ho said the government should return the HK$400 million per year it receives from the industry in retraining levies in the form of subsidies that would allow new employees to receive on-the-job training, instead of paying for them to take courses in construction.
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Old September 7th, 2014, 09:00 AM   #1780
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Henderson grows its North Point footprint
The Standard
Friday, September 05, 2014


HKET

Henderson Land Development (0012) spent HK$105 million on two plots in North Point to be transformed into 110 small flats.

The site equals HK$4,242 per square foot in terms of gross floor area.

Provident Garden, a nearby project about 20 years old, sells for an average of more than HK$11,000 per sellable sq ft.

The Yuet Yuen Street sites were sold at reserve price in an auction yesterday after Henderson got over 80 percent ownership.

Executive director Augustine Wong Ho-ming said the site will be jointly developed with the adjacent No5 site on the same street, as well as the 23 Java Road plot totaling 3,582 sq ft. That translates to a gross floor area of over 61,000 sq ft.

The developer plans to spend HK$3 billion and about 110 studio and one-bedroom units will be built. Sales could start as soon as next year, while the project is expected to be completed in three years, he added. The four-story buildings are nearly 60 years old.

The Hemispheres in North Point, also a Henderson project launched last year, was priced at over HK$26,000 pssf.

Recent land bidding record in the area can be traced back to two years ago, when Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) bid for a commercial cum residential site at Java Road, previously the site for North Point Estate, at over HK$9,300 psf in terms of GFA.

Meanwhile, 56 percent of locals prefer new projects to those in the secondary market due to the narrowing price gap between the two, a survey found.

While 84 percent found the price too high, 45 percent expected it would stay stable in the second half, followed by one-third of them who foresee a drop.
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