Kornhill offers many features to attract young families. The development works - if triangles do not offend
The area known as Kornhill is easy to confuse with Taikoo Shing since MTR access to both is via Taikoo Shing station. Located to the east of Hong Kong Island, Kornhill is effectively one large housing estate of uniform blocks built in 1986.
While the architecture is typical of other estates of the same period, unlike many developments, Kornhill is located against a pleasant hillside backdrop.
Kornhill's blocks are constructed in the midst of the undulating terrain, and consist of three levels, known as upper, middle and lower Kornhill. Each section offers different characteristics and advantages.
Lower Kornhill is five minutes' walk to the Taikoo Shing station, which means Central is less than half an hour away. Quarry Bay MTR is only a few minutes, which gives easy access to Kowloon via the interchange with the Kwun Tong line. Also, there are a number of restaurants in the area.
'There are more Hong Kong people living in lower Kornhill as locals are lazier and do not want to spend time walking down from the upper and middle hills,' explained Maicy Cheung, Kornhill branch manager of estate agents Ricacorp.
Kornhill is particularly popular with the Japanese expatriate community, especially those who have brought their families to Hong Kong. They favour the middle area, which contains the bigger and better-furnished flats.
'Average rental and sales prices are higher in the middle Kornhill, due to demand from the Japanese. They are willing to pay more for a better living environment uphill,' said Sam Ng, Kornhill branch manager of Centaline Property.
Similar to the residents in upper Kornhill, they trade the inconvenience of walking to the train station for less traffic, fresher air and the green hillside environment.
Even so, upper Kornhill is not cut off from transport, with regular minibus services carrying residents to and from the station.
Being a well-designed, purpose-built estate, Kornhill has a shopping complex, the Kornhill Plaza, in the middle of the development. It houses Hong Kong's largest Japanese supermarket Jusco and the famous Chiu Chow Garden Restaurant.
Residents can also cross the road to the other huge shopping complex, City Plaza, which is next to the estate.
With six kindergartens, two primary schools, and facilities that include extensive play areas, it is not surprising the majority of residents are families with kids.
The main edge that Kornhill has over its Taikoo neighbour is that the buildings are further apart, giving more space and open views from the flats. Besides the greenery of the Quarry Bay Hill, there are good sea views. There is a club for residents that offers sports activities, with two swimming pools, seven tennis courts and several squash courts.
Instead of a clubhouse restaurant, families can get together in an indoor barbecue house.
Members pay a HK$10,000 deposit per flat for up to four members for the clubhouse, with a monthly fee of HK$385. The deposit is returnable.
Although the development is about 14 years old, it is one of the youngest in east Hong Kong Island. Ms Cheung feels Kornhill is still a good prospect for investors. She said the land in east Hong Kong Island had been fully utilised, which meant there could be no new developments.
Prices are among the most reasonable on Hong Kong Island, with a 754 square foot flat in block M on offer for HK$3 million. The asking price for a unit of 902 sq ft in block B is HK$3.78 million, and a 583 sq ft apartment in block Q is on offer for HK$2.05 million.
According to agents the average sale price is HK$4,150 per square foot. The largest flats are 1,056 sq ft, and the smallest are 582 sq ft, found in both lower and upper Kornhill. Prices have dipped considerably, and agents report the average asking price has declined by about 5 per cent to 10 per cent over the past month.
In contrast, the rental market remains active, so landlords prefer to take advantage of a steady supply of tenants rather than try to sell their properties.
Rentals are reasonable, with a 621 sq ft unit in block C offered at HK$10,000 per month, an 808 sq ft flat in block B for HK$12,500 per month, and a 927 sq ft unit in block D for HK$19,000 per month.
The average rental price in the estate is HK$19 per sq ft, but in middle Kornhill, where the largest flats are found, prices are higher at about HK$22 per sq ft.
While prices may be affordable, the apartments in Kornhill may not appeal to everyone. The drawback is some units are diamond-shaped and the two-bedroom flats of 582 sq ft have kitchens with awkward triangular shapes.
According to Chinese superstitions, corners in houses are inauspicious.
'Because of the diamond shape, many elderly people do not like it, so you will find younger families living here,' said Edmund Lau, Midland Realty Kornhill branch manager.
Next week: Heng Fa Cheun