Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge

Airport Authority bets on future visitor influx for huge new hotel and mall complex at North Lantau

When complete, developer says it will be ‘the single largest retail space’ in the city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 4:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 8:37am

A luxury hotel, retail and office complex adjacent to the Hong Kong International Airport will start inviting tenders from next month for a partnership with “like-minded” developers.

Skycity Development, which will occupy 25 hectares at North Lantau Island – approximately two-thirds the size of Causeway Bay – hopes cater an influx of visitors brought on by the completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the planned third-runway system.

However, a lawmaker said the Airport Authority should invite public participation in discussing the right mode of development if it regards itself as a statutory body making use of the resources funded by public money.

Earlier the authority was granted a 50-year lease by the government at an unknown “nominal premium”. “If this project is funded by public purse and resources, the Airport Authority should be held accountable to the public about the project development.

“The ideal way is to seek public engagement and let its stakeholders voice their views,” said legislator Edward Yiu Chung-yim, representing the planning sector.

A hotel with up to 750 rooms is expected to be completed by 2020. The authority will start inviting bids for the hotel from next month. A retail, dining and entertainment centre three times of the size of Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsiu will then be completed by 2021. The authority will start inviting retail tenders in early 2017.

It will become the single largest retail space in Hong Kong, according to Fred Lam, Chief Executive Officer at the Hong Kong Airport Authority.

The announcement comes amid Hong Kong’s dwindling tourism numbers and weak retail sentiment. However, Lam shrugged off concerns over the current tourism downturn, saying it would not affect the project’s perspective as it is a “long-term development”.

“Our vision is to create a new destination that goes far beyond the traditional notion of a shopping mall,” Lam said.

The complex underlines the Hong Kong government’s efforts to create a economy on North Lantau Island and target new revenue flows from the cross-border free trade zone, which covers Hong Kong, Macau, Hengqing of Zhuhai, Qianhai of Shenzhen, Nansha of Guangzhou.

Lam said the biggest disadvantage of local shopping malls was the lack of space. He said having ample space would enable developers to bring trendier concepts to the city’s retail landscape, such as integrating sports and educational activities.

While Lam did not disclose the total cost of the project, he said it would be developed in partnership with “like-minded developers”, who would claim a share in the project’s future revenue.

Lam said the authority had been talking with several potential developers, including some from overseas, and their reaction was “very positive”. He added it intended to co-operate with only one developer for the first phase development.