Deal for extra height on new Central project up in the air
By BARRY PORTER
WITH time fast running out, Central Development is still battling with Government over how high it will be allowed to redevelop its former Shell House and Hartlane House sites in Central.
Foundations are due to be completed within the next few weeks and the developer is eager to start work on building its proposed new office tower.
Project architect Ricky Yeung, of P & T Architects and Engineers, has fought for more than six months on behalf of the developer to win approval to build a taller building.
In exchange for providing elevated footbridges between its new development and the neighbouring Entertainment Building and Central Building, Central Development argues it should be allowed to build two floors above its permissible plot ratio.
That would allow for a 26-storey replacement building on the site, instead of the 24 storeys already approved.
Certain concessions in plot ratio can be claimed by developers in return for providing public space, but such decisions are at the Government discretion.
Thousands of people cross the congested intersection of Wyndham Street, Pedder Street and Queen's Road, Central, every day.
The extra two floors would make a big difference to projected future profits for the Hui family, who control privately-owned Central Development.
The site now has maximum plot ratio of 15, which allows a building with a 232,500 square foot gross floor area.
If the developer gets the go-ahead to build higher, the total gross floor area would be about 252,950 sq ft.
While negotiations with the District Land Office continue, Central Development estate manager Norman Chen said P & T Architects intended to begin constructing the lower floors.
'It is a hard job to fight the District Lands Office,' Mr Chen said.
Irrespective of the eventual height, the basement, ground and first floors of the new building will be used for retail space.
The remainder will be dedicated to office space, with the second floor used as an elevated entrance to the office tower and air-conditioned external walkways.
The aesthetics of the new building are the vision of P & T director and renowned architect, Remo Riva, while Mr Yeung has been charged with the more practical side of things.
Among the many other landmark buildings in Central designed by Mr Riva are the Entertainment Building and Nine Queen's Road Central, both in a classic Italian style, which stand next door to the Central development site.
The new building sounds quite different, boasting a simple mirrored glass-curtain wall.
On completion in mid-1996, it will be put out to lease, not sale, in line with the Hui family's traditional approach to development.