Wharf Holdings to turn historic Murray Building into luxury hotel

The Murray will become part of the Niccolo Hotels brand and cost Wharf a total of HK$7 billion to develop

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 11:01pm

Hong Kong conglomerate Wharf Holdings is turning the almost 50-year-old Murray Building on Cotton Tree Drive in Central, once the city’s tallest government building, into a luxury 27-floor hotel.

The land and building cost the company HK$4.4 billion to buy, and chairman and managing director Stephen Ng Tin-hoi said when The Murray hotel opens in October, 2017 the overall project will have cost a total HK$7 billion.

Harbour Central Development, a Wharf subsidiary, outbid as many as 40 others to buy the building, which will now become the second branch of its new luxury hotel brand Niccolo Hotels.

The hotel’s managing director Duncan Palmer said the new 336-room hotel’s “handsome budget” will allow the developer to preserve some of the building’s features, such as its distinctive ground-floor arches and recessed windows.

The Murray Building was first offered for sale by the government in November 2013 as part of the “Conserving Central” project, which works to preserve the heritage of the historic heart of Hong Kong, according to the Development Bureau.

It’s been some years since we last opened a luxury hotel in Hong Kong, but when it arrives in little over a year from today, we hope that it will be the talk of the town
Stephen Ng Tin-hoi, chairman and executive director, Wharf Holdings

“The asset itself, the location, is great,” Ng told the Post. “Its heritage is very important because it will help to establish the hotel when we open it, both locally and internationally.”

According to the Legislative Council website, certain development requirements have been set to preserve the “architectural merits” of the Murray Building, which was built in 1969.

Ng said on Wednesday he hopes the hotel plan will restore some of the Murray Building’s original charm, making it an icon again.

“There’s a lot of things that we can’t change, including its exterior and structure,” Ng said.

“But within those confines, we’re doing everything we can to make it the building again in Hong Kong.”

Ng added he was confident that Hong Kong’s economic slowdown will not affect the project’s success.

“We’re building this hotel not for the near term, it’s for the long term,” he said.

“Obviously there are market cycles, but market cycles don’t concern us.”

“It’s been some years since we last opened a luxury hotel in Hong Kong, but when it arrives in little over a year from today, we hope that it will be the talk of the town.”

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