SCMP Experiences

West Kowloon arts hub to name COO to steer commercial development

Chief operating officer to focus on establishing shops and homes in the new cultural district

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2015, 12:09pm

The West Kowloon arts hub is appointing a chief operating officer to develop its commercial and residential space.

"The idea is to assist on commercial deals and establish the retail and residential side of the project," Michael Lynch, chief executive officer of the West Kowloon Cultural District, said in a Redefining Hong Kong panel discussion hosted by the South China Morning Post.

Cultural facilities will take up 35 to 40 per cent of the gross floor area of the development.

Developers will build most of the flats, but the authority is planning a hotel for visiting artists, rehearsal facilities and creative space for young people and artists.

The government gave the arts hub authority an initial endowment of HK$21.6 billion in 2008. With investment returns, the amount is now HK$24 billion.

Lynch said HK$1.3 billion had been spent over the past six years.

A "ballpark estimate" given to lawmakers for the design and construction of all facilities is HK$47 billion. Lynch said this was not a figure the authority was using, but he did not provide a new estimate.

Although 15 performance venues were planned back in 2007, only five have been confirmed. Lynch denied the project had been scaled down, but the fate of the others would depend on private sponsors.

Other speakers at the conference said the authority should put the emphasis on software - nurturing talent, educating the audiences, building a good museum collection and planning content.

The executive director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Tisa Ho, said she was not so interested in how many seats there would be or how much the buildings would cost.

What was important was "what it is going to do?" she said.