Tamar HQ unit cost is twice Two IFC's

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am

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The unit cost of building the Tamar project will be almost double that of the Two IFC office tower, a University of Hong Kong specialist has claimed.

Wong Kwok-chun, an associate professor in the university's Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics, estimated that the Tamar construction cost would be about $30,974 a square metre. The 88-storey tower of the International Finance Centre cost $15,980 a square metre.

This means the total cost for Tamar, including site works, building services, footbridges and contingencies, will be $3.9 billion, compared with $2.9 billion for Two IFC.

The government last night dismissed the comparison as 'erroneous and misleading'. It has estimated the unit construction cost will be only $11,600 a square metre; this excludes foundation works, unlike Professor Wong's unit cost estimate. The government plans to ask the Legislative Council for $5.17 billion for the project, a figure that includes construction and non-construction costs.

Professor Wong defended his comparison, saying it was based on government information released to Legco and internal documents he had obtained from the IFC.

'I compared like with like. The newest office tower in Central is Two IFC and the two are on similar [locations],' he said. 'It is impossible to have two identical sites. We can find only the closest for comparison.' He had excluded the government's estimates on fitting and furnishing from his comparison as these were irrelevant to private offices.

Professor Wong described the Tamar project as 'financially unsound' and called on the government to release its findings and allow more time for public discussion.

'Unless the government sells the Central Government Offices and the Murray Building, Tamar is too expensive. But there is a strong sentiment in the community that Government Hill be preserved. If the government eventually sells the two sites, it is creating political problems for itself. If it is not selling them, what is the point of keeping two old office buildings?'

Professor Wong carried out the study at the invitation of the Civic Party. The government said his estimates should not count a two-hectare open space, drainage and footbridges as part of the construction cost. 'These items should not be counted into the unit construction cost and it should not be assumed that the contingency provision for the entire project would necessarily be spent on building works,' a government spokeswoman said.

The Civic Party and five environmental groups have launched an internet campaign against the government plan. They have urged the public to express its concerns to the administration. The groups are Friends of the Earth, WWF Hong Kong, Clear the Air, Save our Shorelines and Designing Hong Kong Harbour District.