West Kowloon Cultural District

Michael Lynch under fire over Xiqu Centre cost blowout

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 11:40am

Lawmakers slammed the chief of the West Kowloon arts hub yesterday over projections that costs will more than double for the massive project's first facility, the Xiqu Centre for traditional Chinese performing arts.

Michael Lynch, chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, reported on the project to a subcommittee of the Legislative Council, amid predictions that the theatre will cost HK$2.7 billion instead of the HK$1.3 billion originally budgeted in 2006.

Lynch said the authority was concerned about the cost overruns and would return to discuss with the committee alternative ways of financing the project, such as selling naming rights.

The major part of the escalation is the rise of construction costs in Hong Kong

"The major part of the escalation is the rise of construction costs in Hong Kong," Lynch said, adding he was concerned about future cost increases. "I'm worried that unless we build some of these things relatively quickly, who knows what the situation might be in five or 10 years."

The new projected price tag was revealed in December, when the centre's design was announced by architects Bing Thom of Vancouver and Hong Kong's Ronald Lu & Partners.

The building is scheduled to be completed by 2016.

Committee members urged the authority to explain the cost details, warning that the legislature would not easily approve fresh capital injections.

Committee member Abraham Razack said Lynch should have given more than 10 per cent weighting to cost-effectiveness, or value for money, in deciding the winning design bid for the theatre.