Green concept adds to fishing traditions
Ap Lei Chau, or Duck Tongue Island in Chinese, is among the last remaining bastions of Hong Kong where the traditional maritime heritage lives on.
Even today, the small island continues as a home to fishermen and their families, who work as generations did before them on green timber trawlers, and live in public housing in the old village.
Similarly, many of the original, family-run boatyards are still in business, building and repairing the junks and sampans that ferry commuters and tourists, or are used for entertaining corporate clients.
The island also continues its role in providing natural protection for the typhoon shelter at nearby Aberdeen. The harbour is also a tourist attraction, famed as the place where one can still see a working fishing village and home to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.
Accessed either by water taxi or bridge from Wong Chuk Hang Road, Ap Lei Chau is a densely populated area where the estates mostly are public and Private Sector Participation Schemes.
However, one major development that breaks the mould is South Horizons, built in four phases during the 1990s by Secan, a subsidiary of the Hutchison Whampoa Property Group.
An example of modern professional town planning, it was designed as a 'garden city' concept with low density high-rises.
On the western end of Ap Lei Chau - the former site of Hongkong Electric's power stations - South Horizons is positioned for panoramic views of Lamma Island. The eight million square foot development comprises 34 blocks with 9,812 units and facilities.
The buildings in South Horizons are from 30 to 42 storeys high, with flats from 592 sq ft to 1,130 sq ft in size. All were finished with quality fixtures and fittings.
Apart from the sea views, the main appeal for residents is the South Horizons Residents Club, with its gardens featuring two outdoor swimming pools, flood-lit tennis courts, a golf practice driving range and a children's playground. Indoor facilities include a temperature-controlled swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.
The development also has a shopping arcade of more than 300,000 sq ft with retail outlets and restaurants.
The 'garden city' concept of South Horizons is further exemplified by landscaped podiums, children's play equipment and outdoor sitting areas. A seafront promenade provides a panoramic harbour view.
Midland Realty has a flat for sale with a full sea view. Flat B on the 37th floor in Tower Nine, Yee Ngar Court, is in the 10-year-old phase of South Horizons. It is a four-bedroom unit of 918 sq ft, with two bathrooms (one en suite). The price is HK$3.3 million.
Two flats are available for rent. Flat H on the 29th floor of Tower 15, Yee Wan Court, has three bedrooms with an en suite and main bathroom, plus a smaller study, maid's room or storeroom. The 1,065 sq ft flat, at HK$20,000 per month, has a full sea view, maple floors and renovations that include a modernised kitchen and bathrooms.
Flat A on the 28th floor of Tower 13, Yee Fai Court, costs HK$12,000 a month. This three-bedroom, two-bathroom 802 sq ft flat includes fitted wardrobes, and has a partial sea view.
Public housing is a cheaper option, although it often has some limitations. For example, Lei Tung Estate on the eastern side of the island only permits tenants who have permanent residency and has a family income cap of HK$20,000. Suitable applicants can apply for a flat ranging from 130 sq ft to 400 sq ft in size, from HK$1,200 per month.
Cheaper again is the older Ap Lei Chau Estate, where 150 sq ft flats cost HK$800 per month, or HK$2,000 for a 500 sq ft unit.
Flats in Yue On Court, beside Lei Tung Estate, can be privately purchased under the Home Ownership Scheme. This has some, although fewer, limitations as the building has been established for more than 10 years, and the owners are permitted to sell flats on either the free or secondary markets.
Arthur Yip, of Centaline Property Agency, said anyone could buy regardless of their residency status under the first option. However, the buyer must bear the land fee of the flat, which is 23 to 25 per cent of the purchase price, which is HK$1.1 million, for a flat of 575 sq ft.
The other option is to buy in the secondary market where the land fee is waived, but the family's income limit must not exceed HK$23,000. Flats cost HK$800,000 for a home of 575 sq ft, adding another 8 per cent for the bigger flats of 604 and 618 sq ft.
Ap Lei Chau Centre is a private building of only two blocks, built in 1983 at 138 Lee Chee Road. Flats are from 445 to 609 sq ft, with rents up to HK$4,800 per month and selling for HK$800,000 to HK$900,000.
With a shortage of new homes in the area, Mr Yip reports there is strong interest in Shum Wan Tower, a building due for completion next year. The three blocks will have 1,040 flats which are expected to sell for about HK$3,000 per square foot.
Next Week: Kennedy Road