Developer hopes refurbishment will help secure tenants willing to pay higher rents in buoyant sector Sun Hung Kai Properties, the largest property developer in Hong Kong by market value, plans to spend HK$600 million refurbishing nine office properties in a move to improve rental income. The company hopes the renovation, which will be carried out in two to three years, can make the properties more attractive for clients who are willing to pay higher rents. 'We hope rents will increase by 10 to 20 per cent after the refurbishment,' said Jimmy Wong, an executive director of the developer's marketing arm, Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency. The nine buildings, which have a combined gross floor area of 430,000 square feet, include three in Wan Chai: Harbour Centre, Sun Hung Kai Centre and Central Plaza. The others are World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay, Metroplaza in Kwai Chung, New Town Tower in Sha Tin, Landmark North in Sheung Shui, Grand City Plaza in Tsuen Wan and Millennium City Phase Two in Kwun Tong. Prevailing office rents of the company's Wan Chai properties average HK$30 to HK$40 per square foot a month while rents for its Kwun Tong and Mongkok properties are more than HK$20 per square foot a month, Mr Wong said. Occupancy rates of these properties are about 90 per cent. The renovation programme includes upgrades of main lobbies, landscaping and the public areas. It will also improve the properties' security systems and air-conditioning facilities. The developer's upgrading programme comes amid a positive outlook for the office market. 'We believe the office market will continue to see a healthy performance on the back of good demand,' Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency deputy general manager for office leasing Lo King-wai said. Last year, office rents grew between 20 per cent and 40 per cent and Mr Lo expects at least a 10 per cent rise this year. Taking advantage of the bullish sentiment in the office sector, SHKP is marketing its uncompleted 118-storey International Commerce Centre at Kowloon Station. 'We are in talks with a number of potential clients who together will take up more than 700,000 sqft of office space in International Commerce Centre,' Mr Lo said. When completed, International Commerce Centre will be the tallest building in Hong Kong, surpassing International Finance Centre Two in Central.