Cities, property developers poised to build on speedy links

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2011, 12:00am

The ambitious high-speed rail rollout on the mainland promises to be a boon for property developers, CB Richard Ellis executive director Andrew Ness says.

By 2020, the high-speed network was expected to reach 20,000 kilometres, connect more than 80 cities, serve half the country's population and reduce travel time by 60 per cent, Ness said.

'Some cities have major plans to regenerate areas around high-speed rail stations. A lot of money is going to be made by private property developers and local governments.'

For example, Longhua district in Shenzhen was benefiting from the rail development, with Hong Kong developers building land banks there, he said. Longhua will be home to an interchange for the Shenzhen Metro Line 12, to be built by Hong Kong's MTR Corporation and due to open later this year. It is also slated to be a stop on the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou and a future high-speed link to Shanghai.

The district, which now has about 20,000 people, is planning 13.3 million square metres of new development to accommodate 240,000.

Shanghai, meanwhile, was developing 26 square kilometres of land around the Hongqiao transport hub, which contained an airport, a metro rail station and a high-speed rail station, Ness said. The Shanghai government had started selling land sites from that development, he said.

Last September, Hong Kong-listed Shui On Land acquired land next to the Hongqiao hub for 3.19 billion yuan (HK$3.69 billion), the company announced. That piece of land has a gross floor area of 233,140 square metres on which a mixed-use development with a net site area of 62,300 square metres will be built.

Recently, property developers had been creating land banks to build offices in Wuxi, a city in Jiangsu province that lay on the operational high-speed railway between Shanghai and Nanjing, Ness said. 'Wuxi is now all of a sudden taking off. Being 40 minutes to Shanghai by high-speed railway, a business park in Wuxi is as viable as one in Shanghai.'

Cities near large metropolitan areas such as Beijing and Guangzhou would serve as satellites as a result of the high-speed links, Ness added. He cited Langfang in Hebei province, connected to Beijing by a high-speed railway.

Another example is Foshan, linked to Guangzhou, 21 kilometres away, by a metro line and, in the future, an intercity rail line. 'It has completely revolutionised Foshan,' he said. 'Quite a few Hong Kong property developers have massive land banks in Foshan.'