Tung Ying joins the demolition queue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2005, 12:00am

Quirky landmark to be torn down and replaced by glitzy mall

After standing sentinel at one of Tsim Sha Tsui's busiest intersections for 39 years, the Tung Ying Building at Nathan Road is set to be bulldozed for a flashy new shopping centre.

A source at Chinese Estates Holdings, which bought the 17-storey property from the Hotung family in 2002, said the decision to demolish the building was prompted by the consumer spending boom and the revival of the retail property market.

'In such a keenly competitive retail market, renovation is not enough,' the source said. 'The entire building is likely to be redeveloped, with retail space taking up a much higher proportion of gross floor area.'

The planned demolition will be the latest in a series of key redevelopments that, combined with massive transport infrastructure enhancements, will radically change the architectural landscape of Hong Kong's premier shopping district.

Market observers have been speculating over the future of the ageing shopping centre since Chinese Estates bought the building for $1.1 billion, or $2,956 per square foot, just months before the Sars epidemic decimated the retail economy.

The company shelved plans to demolish and redevelop the property during the height of the epidemic in 2003, when the building was identified by public health officials as a site of infection.

According to the source, existing tenants would be given six months' notice under a break clause in the lease.

Surveyors said soaring retail property prices and rents had made redeveloping the project an imperative.

'When the premises were bought a few years ago, the redevelopment value was quite low as the office space in Tung Ying was generating stable rents comparable to newer office buildings in the district,' one surveyor said.

'With retail rents surging by more than 50 per cent in a year, redeveloping ... became the obvious option.'

The upper two floors of the three-storey shopping podium - which stretches along Granville Road between Nathan Road and Carnarvon Road - are occupied with laboratories and medical clinics, some of which have been there since the building opened in 1966. The ground floor is a quirky collection of shops selling wigs, used cameras and curios.

The surveyor estimated development costs for Chinese Estates could exceed $1 billion, or $3,000 per square foot. But he estimated the valuation of a new building could easily reach $3 billion.

The Hyatt Regency hotel site on Nathan Road will be redeveloped into a building to consist mainly of retail space, according to Colliers International.

The hotel and retail operations in the building will cease on January 1 next year. The new building is expected to be completed in 2009.