The International Commerce Centre (ICC) has received strong leasing interest from local and multinational companies with more than 80 per cent of the total gross floor space already committed - well before its completion, scheduled for 2010. The 118-storey commercial tower, above Kowloon Station, comprising 2.5million square feet of grade A office space, is being built in three phases by Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP). The first phase involving about 900,000 sqft of space was completed last year. Lo King-wai, general manager (office leasing) with SHKP's subsidiary Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency, said the skyscraper had secured a diversified tenant base including multinational companies looking to move their regional headquarters to a prestigious office address. Leading financial institutions, such as Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, would be moving into the ICC, he said. Other prominent tenants include ABN Amro, China Haidian, EFG Bank, Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange and SNP Vite. Credit Suisse has agreed to lease 10 floors and is expected to relocate its entire Hong Kong operations to the ICC by 2011. Deutsche Bank will take up 12 floors totalling about 420,000 sqft and has the right to lease up to 18 floors to allow for staff and business expansion. Morgan Stanley has agreed to lease 10 floors and will relocate its Hong Kong operations, where its Asia-Pacific headquarters is based, to the ICC at the end of this year. 'The leasing rate, however, depends on many factors, including the needs of our tenants, the office space they require and the length of the leasing terms. To address their needs, we provide creative and flexible leasing packages for tenants,' Mr Lo said. 'In addition, the office leasing market is changing periodically so there is no specific leasing going rate for comparison with the initial offer. But it almost goes without saying that rental levels are low when compared with Central, making the ICC a financially sensible decision.' He said the ICC could accommodate the needs of different tenants with its waterfront site, convenient location, distinctive architecture, spacious and highly efficient design, state-of-the-art facilities and revitalising green spaces. The project was designed to offer a degree of unprecedented scalability and flexibility while its exceptional attributes provided potential tenants with a great variety of leasing options, he said. Despite the impact of the slowing economic growth around the globe, Mr Lo said he was positive about the leasing activities of the ICC because there were always companies expanding business at any point of the economic cycle. 'What we are trying to do is to attract more of these companies to move into the ICC. We are confident that the ICC is appealing to target tenants as it is of superb quality and is unparalleled by other commercial projects in Hong Kong.' He said for several years the office market had been facing a confluence of steadily rising demand for quality space and an increasingly limited scope for adding new space in Central. Companies would be more than willing to move out of the traditional Central district if they could find the right property at the right price. 'In developments such as the ICC, we are hoping to show that this relocation not only entails no sacrifice, but also offers extra advantages. The ICC project will certainly go some way to narrowing the gap between the demand for quality office space and the supply,' he said. 'The rise of the West Kowloon project as a new financial hub will be the market's answer to the practical absence of new office space in the ageing Central office hub, while also representing an opportunity for these companies to save a fortune in rental expenses.' Mr Lo said the rising office rents in Central and other areas in the past two quarters reflected that demand still outstripped supply, and he expected the office sector to continue to grow. Prospective tenants were more than willing to consider renting offices in areas such as West Kowloon if the property fully accommodated their needs without compromising convenience, efficiency and amenities, he said. The ICC offered prospective tenants a 'Central away from Central', as it provided good value, bigger and more versatile spaces, and state-of-the-art technology. 'Its location at Kowloon Station gives it direct, seamless access to a city-wide transportation network - and even a global network, courtesy of its rail link to the airport. The tenants will find everything they need in the complex,' he said. 'The ICC offers an alternative for multinational companies, and the building's quality speaks for itself. We are extremely positive about the mix of tenants we have been able to attract and are still attracting.' According to Mr Lo, there are more than 100 innovative eco-friendly features incorporated into the ICC design. These include the new 'energy optimiser' air-conditioning system and the double-decker intelligent lifts. These two technologies, capable of reducing energy use by about 15 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, are expected to produce significant electricity savings. The energy saved each year will be enough to supply power to 6,500 families of four for a month. Other environmentally friendly features include the recycling of condensed water, carbon dioxide detectors to maintain indoor air quality and the ratio of inhabitable space to footprint.