Swire Properties has witnessed a robust leasing performance of its grade-A office portfolio including Pacific Place in Admiralty and Taikoo Place and Cityplaza in Island East. Chris Heywood, senior portfolio manager of Swire Properties Management, said there was strong demand for office space and the group's major properties had no vacant premises available. He said the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global financial turbulences had not had any immediate effect on leasing interest in its properties. 'We have not seen any significant impact and Hong Kong remains very strong really, particularly in the office market. The three office buildings of our Pacific Place development are full. Nothing has changed so far,' he said. The average rental achieved for Pacific Place had increased by about 20 per cent in the first nine months of this year, he said. The monthly rental at One and Two Pacific Place was around HK$100 per sqft, and that at Three Pacific Place in the mid HK$80s. Stephan Spurr, director and general manager of Island East at Swire Properties, said its office buildings in Taikoo Place and Cityplaza were 100 per cent occupied. The newly completed One Island East is 92 per cent leased with the few floors remaining being in the top zone. 'The average per sqft rental achieved for grade A properties in Island East including Cityplaza and Taikoo Place is in the high HK$30s while the rents for One Island East are in the mid HK$50s. Rents remain strong, as is the market demand for our buildings,' Mr Spurr said. The 70-storey One Island East has 1.5 million sqft of office space. Its tenants include DBS Bank, JPMorgan, CLSA, Fidelity International, Convoy Financial, Zurich Insurance Group, Aedas, The Marketing Store, ZIM Shipping, Ernst & Young, Shriro Pacific, Tiffany & Co, Club 21 and Christian Dior. Mr Heywood said the ripple effects of the shortage of office space in core Central had benefited properties in other locations such as Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, while those in Island East saw a much stronger take-up over the past year. He said the Pacific Place office towers had several tenants from the financial sector while Swire's Island East portfolio was supported by a broader mix of tenants from different business sectors including financial, shipping and retailing. Mr Heywood said Swire was different from other developers and wanted to build up a community environment, not just its own properties. 'We are more of a community developer. We create not just offices or shopping spaces, but a whole development and a whole environment. At Three Pacific Place, we have created a community where we own some ground floor space for retail use. We work with other owners in the neighbourhood to promote the area and create a destination for people,' he said. Swire is also undertaking an overall design improvement project for the Pacific Place complex to meet the changing needs of Hong Kong shoppers and elevate the positioning of the premier shopping and mixed-use project. The improvement work, which involves interior, exterior and architectural refinement, is expected to cost more than HK$1.5 billion. 'We spent a lot of time on the planning and design process for the project. We are constantly looking at our buildings and reinventing ourselves,' Mr Heywood said. With the completion of One Island East, Swire's Island East portfolio has increased to a total floor area of 8 million sqft. The group has been involved in the transformation of Island East to develop and deliver a modern vibrant community. A further expansion of Taikoo Place is on the drawing board, involving the redevelopment of three industrial buildings - Somerset House, Cornwall House and Warwick House into two new environmentally friendly grade-A office buildings. Upon the approval for the redevelopment plan, demolition and construction works can commence in 2013 at the earliest. Mr Heywood said Swire made continuous efforts to improve tenants' experience and operating efficiency while quality management services were in place to anticipate and respond to tenants' needs. The group also carried out research on the technology and environmental aspects of its new and existing developments, he said. Among the environmental initiatives were new chilling systems installed at its Island East properties for better air-conditioning management.