Changes to West Kowloon Cultural District could raise over HK$5 billion

Experts put value on planned increase in floor space at West Kowloon arts district

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 4:45am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 6:37am

More than HK$5 billion of extra land revenue could be generated from the planned increase in floor area of the arts hub, according to a valuation expert.

But first the changes must be accepted by lawmakers and the Town Planning Board.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority told lawmakers in July last year that it would raise the amount of floor area by 15 per cent over the whole 40-hectare site to help remedy both the project's underestimated budget and the city's housing shortage.

Lawmakers pointed out that the space designated for flats, offices and hotels - where the increase would be concentrated - is only 17 hectares, raising fears those parts would grow too big.

Detailed figures were provided in a paper submitted to Legco yesterday. Residential floor area will be increased by 22,210 square metres, and take up 20 per cent of the gross floor area of the project.

Hotels and offices will occupy 25,610 square metres more. Ancillary facilities including a hostel for visiting artists, rehearsal space and extra dining areas will be increased by 63,230 square metres.

Charles Chan Chiu-kwok, managing director at Savills Valuation and Professional Services, said the price of land for building flats by the harbour in West Kowloon is about HK$139,931 per square metre, while land for offices and hotels costs some HK$86,111 per square metre.

So the increases in residential and hotel/office floor area would generate some HK$3.1 billion and HK$2.2 billion respectively, Chan said.

While the land revenue will go directly to the government, the extra dining space is expected to reduce the art hub's operating costs in the long run.

However, surveyor and lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen said the actual plot ratio - the total gross floor area divided by the total site area - of space for flats, hotels and offices had been underestimated by the authority.

"These developments will be concentrated on 17 hectares only. The government's figure does not tell the real impact," Tse said. "Whether the increased density is acceptable or not would depend on their distribution."