Hopewell Holdings, a property and toll road firm, said the redevelopment of an exhibition centre in Kowloon Bay into a shopping and entertainment complex will cost HK$600 million and half of the project has been leased. Hopewell is renovating the Hongkong International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Hitec) in the industrial area of Kowloon Bay and turning it into a 900,000 square foot shopping and entertainment complex. Deputy managing director Thomas Jefferson Wu yesterday said that the investment included HK$200 million of land premium to the government, a payment required for changing land use. The project, which is scheduled to open in the middle of next year, is part of Hopewell's plan to increase rental income. Property leasing accounted for 12.36 per cent or HK$188 million of the group's HK$1.52 billion earnings before interest and tax in the year to June. Hopewell's net profit was HK$2.25 billion, 18 per cent higher year on year. Rent at Hitec ranges between HK$20 and HK$50 per square foot, according to Hopewell associate director William Wong Wing-lam. Half of the space has been leased by three tenants - a car exhibition operator taking 250,000 sqft, a home store operator taking 200,000 sqft and a bowling venue operator. Hitec's 720,000 sqft office development above the exhibition centre will not be affected by the makeover. The office space is more than 90 per cent occupied, a spokeswoman said. Hitec's reopening will coincide with next year's opening of Megabox, a Kerry Properties shopping centre development in Kowloon Bay offering 1.1 million sqft of retail space. Mr Wu said he was not concerned that Megabox would compete with Hitec because the districts around Kowloon Bay, including Kai Tak and Kwun Tong, would undergo redevelopment and generate demand for shopping and entertainment spaces. Hopewell is also developing two office towers on Queen's Road East, Wan Chai. The first, a 770,000 sqft commercial tower costing HK$150 million, will be completed in the third quarter next year. The other, a HK$280 million 96,500 sqft residential and commercial tower, is due for completion in the forth quarter of 2008. At Happy Valley, Hopewell plans to redevelop a 113,900 sqft site on 12 Broadwood Road into luxury flats for leasing. The HK$500 million project is due for completion in 2009.