Landlord shuts out Causeway Bay Post Office

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am

The fallout from the hot property market has hit Hongkong Post, with the announcement that it is closing its branch in the heart of Causeway Bay, a month after the landlord refused to renew the lease.

The post office, which has been in a ground floor unit of Elizabeth House since 1992, will close on February 16. The self-financed government body said it was looking for suitable premises in the same area.

It apologised for the inconvenience and said people could meanwhile use the five other post offices in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

'We told the landlord we would be willing to pay the market rate. But it refused to renew our lease,' a spokeswoman for Hongkong Post said.

The landlord, Winland Property, did not reply to a Post inquiry about the rent or whether it was looking for a different kind of tenant.

A similar-sized store on the ground floor of the same building is renting for HK$220,000 a month.

Ricacorp Property director Roy Wong Ying-nin said rents in the heart of Causeway Bay had risen 20 to 25 per cent in the past two years.

'It is possible the landlord has a strategic plan to turn Elizabeth House into a higher-end commercial property or one with a theme such as entertainment,' he said. 'In that regard, a post office certainly will not fit in, even if it offers a higher rent.'

Mr Wong predicted one of the entertainment companies in the block might want to take over the post office unit. He also said that some landlords preferred to rent to short-term tenants so that they could increase rents more often. Wan Chai district councillor Kennedy Lee Kai-hung said he had already received complaints from Causeway Bay residents that the alternative post offices were too far away.

He said he had only been told of the closure recently.

'Had they told us earlier, we would have used our channels to discuss it with the landlord.

'If the worst comes to the worst, we can still hold a banner and march to the landlord's office to protest,' Mr Lee said.