New police HQ lives up to high price tag

'I think most of you will say, 'Wow', when you see the view,' said a police spokesman sounding every bit the property salesman.

And that was the reaction of most reporters to the view from the press room on the 10th floor of the new police headquarters, overlooking Victoria Harbour and the Academy for Performing Arts.

It gave a hint of what the view must be like from the commissioner's office, which crowns the 42-floor building on Arsenal Street in Wan Chai.

The glimpse came as the press was shown around the $2 billion facility, although the tour was confined to places the public would likely visit. Off the itinerary were more sensitive operational sites like the huge firing range.

But the force did show off its dining room, where glass walls allow unobstructed views across Admiralty and the Tamar site.

Also on display were the multipurpose hall and the auditorium - which can be linked via the internet for video conferences.

Various police branches, including those housed previously in rented premises across the city, started moving into the complex in August.

It is estimated that about 8,000 people will be working in the building when it is fully opened early next year.

Moving units away from leased commercial premises will save the police $38.4 million a year, according to calculations by the Security Bureau in 2000.

Commissioner Dick Lee Ming-kwai was among the first top brass to move in, settling into his office on August 21, a date apparently chosen in accordance with fung shui principles.

Building work on the new complex began in late 2000, after demolition of the old May House site. The site includes the existing Arsenal House west wing and the old Arsenal House, which has now been renamed Arsenal House east wing.