Full steam ahead for factory plans
Developers are expected to speed up the pace of redeveloping industrial properties as the real estate market improves, industry commentators say.
Property consultants said many developers had obtained government approval to turn factory buildings into offices and hotels following the relaxation in recent years of planning rules on industrial land use.
But not many developers had started redeveloping as the market had been slow in the past few years, said Wayal Chiu Wai-hung, director of Colliers International's industrial and office division.
These projects would get under way as the market picked up, while the number of rezoning applications would increase.
Twelve applications for change in usage of industrial property were approved in 2003, according to Colliers International, but only a few were being rebuilt.
CB Richard Ellis research showed that at least 12 applications were submitted or received approval between January 2004 and March this year. Seven sought permission to build hotels.
Two of them are in Wong Chuk Hang, traditionally regarded as an industrial district. The district's easy accessibility to tourist destinations such as Ocean Park, the floating restaurant and Repulse Bay makes it a good location for hotels.
The remaining five projects are in Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung, Kwun Tong and Lai Chi Kok.
Alvan Chan, a sales director in Midland Realty's industrial and commercial department, said: 'There is obviously much room for expansion for middle-range hotels in these [industrial] areas.'
He said factory prices were rising fast.