Former owner of King Yin Lei mansion pays HK$58 million to build houses next door

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2009, 12:00am

The former owner of historic King Yin Lei mansion in Mid-Levels has paid HK$57.99 million to the government for a new site to build houses after surrendering the monument site.

The unidentified owner paid the full market difference between the land values of the two sites, the Development Bureau said.

The neighbouring sites on Stubbs Road are the same size and plot ratio, meaning they share the same development potential. The owner will be allowed to build five three-storey houses on the new lot, now a man-made slope.

Surveyors say the premium may reflect the difference in views and in the property-market situations over time. Charles Chan Chiu-kwok, managing director of surveying firm Savills, said assessment of land premiums usually included a range of factors, such as the location and shape of the site, which affects the building layout and thus the view from flats, and the ease of preparing the ground.

But Pang Siu-kei, another surveyor, said that given the proximity of the two sites and their similar development restrictions, it was hard to understand why there was a difference in value. 'The only reason I can think of is the current booming property market making land prices higher than one or two years ago.'

The bureau said the premium was reached in accordance with established procedures, without giving specifics. The government now owns the declared monument.

The former owner's attempt to deface the mansion in 2007 initially escaped the government's attention, but the work was called to a halt when the government declared it a provisional monument. The status was confirmed last year, and the owner agreed to surrender the site in exchange for one next to it.

The former owner will continue to finance and execute the mansion's restoration work, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. Until the mansion is properly restored, the owner cannot sell, rent or mortgage the new houses in the new lot.

The government will then launch a tender to invite commercial organisations to submit proposals for reusing the mansion.

Separately, China Resources Property planned to redevelop the low block of its headquarters in Wan Chai into a six-star hotel, company managing director Winson Chow said. The six-storey block will be turned into a hotel tower of 18 storeys or more providing about 100 guest rooms. The exhibition hall that the block houses will remain.

Chow said the hotel would provide conference and exhibition facilities because there is a demand in the district. The company has submitted a proposal to the Development Opportunities Office, set up this year under the Development Bureau.

If the application is successful, the hotel is to open in 2015. The company is retrofitting its 25-year-old office tower with green features to cut its water and energy consumption, at a cost of HK$600 million.