Where To Live: Tsing Yi
The island across a narrow strait from the fast-growing Kwai Chung container port has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a fishing and farming village. The island has been used mainly for heavy industries such as shipbuilding and oil depots. Big power plant chimneys were the island's early landmarks. Public housing sprang up in the 1970s but it was then an unpopular area because residents had only one bridge to connect with the rest of Hong Kong. Since the airport moved to Chek Lap Kok and the Airport Express and more bridges have been added, the area has become a vibrant new town. Now the northeast of the island is a well-developed satellite town, segregated from the island's industrial southwest by the Tsing Yi Peak.
Private housing was rare there during the early development of the new town in the 1970s and 1980s because of the poor transport connection, but property development took off following the development of Tsing Yi as a stepping stone to the Hong Kong International Airport. Now nine private housing developments stand among 15 public housing and home ownership estates on the island. Villa Esplanada, developed in 1997, and Tierra Verde (right), above the Tsing Yi MTR station, are considered the leading residential developments on the island. Centaline Property Agency's Rambler Crest Branch manager Frankie Pang Siu-chung said that top-end Tsing Yi properties were selling for more than comparable projects in Tsuen Wan. 'When Tsing Yi was served only by the South Bridge, it was not a popular residential choice. After the completion of the road networks around Tsing Yi, the prices of Tsing Yi properties have surged passed Tsuen Wan's. The average sale price for Tierra Verde is about HK$4,500 to HK$4,700 per square foot, while Discovery Park in Tsuen Wan is about HK$3,700 per square foot,' Mr Pang said. Rents at Villa Esplanada are HK$13 to HK$14 per sqft and Tierra Verde is HK$13 to HK$18 per sqft. The rent for a two-bedroom sea view unit in Tierra Verde is HK$11,000 per month. The four-bedroom 'sky-house' units, which are about 1,100 sqft, are being leased for more than HK$20,000 a month. Mr Pang said Tsing Yi was an increasingly popular residential choice for airline staff and people working in the container port because of its convenient access to the airport and the port.
Tsing Yi is served by the Airport Express and the Tung Chung MTR line. It is one stop from the airport and 14 minutes to Central. The island is connected to various parts of the territory through seven bridges - Tsing Yi Bridge, Kwai Tsing Bridge, Tsing Tsuen Bridge, Ting Kau Bridge, Cheung Tsing Bridge, Tsing Lai Bridge and Tsing Ma Bridge. An eighth bridge, the Stonecutters Bridge, linking the island with Kowloon and Sha Tin, also known as Route 8, is under construction. The public housing estates are served by a network of buses.
The nearest international school is the English School Foundation's Bauhinia Primary School in Lai Yiu Estate in Kwai Chung. It will become the campus for ESF's new private independent school, Discovery Bay School, in August. Students of the existing school and the new school will be transferred to the new extensive campus in Discovery Bay in January. Children in the district come under the catchment area for public primary and secondary schools in Kwai Ching.
Maritime Square at the Tsing Yi MTR station is the focus of retail activities on the island. The four-storey mega mall - about 46,000 square metres in gross area - has more than 200 shops, restaurants, cinemas and a themed old-style Hong Kong market. A public golf driving range on Wo Yi Hop Road operated by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department is available for public booking. Kwai Ching Theatre is a key venue for art and cultural performances in the district. Tsing Yi Park has 7.13 hectares of landscaped recreation facilities along the Tsing Yi waterfront. The island's green hills provide natural walking trails for hikers. The trails offer magnificent views of the Tsing Ma Bridge, as does the Lantau Link View Point at the northwest corner of the island. Temples reflect the island's heritage, and among the more prominent ones are the Chun Kwan Temple, which was built to commemorate a commoner who helped fight pirates in the Guangdong area during the Southern Sung Dynasty in 1127-1279; Tin Hau Temple, which still hosts traditional Cantonese operas during Tin Hau Festival on the 23rd day of the third lunar month; and the Tsing Tak Tong Tat-more Temple, which celebrates the birthday of Buddha's disciple Tat-more, on the 22nd day of the seventh lunar month.