The auction of a luxury residential site in Sha Tin next week is expected to attract keen interest from developers, despite a requirement that the winning bidder must build at least 970 flats on the site. Surveyors predicted that the site, near Lai Ping Road in the luxury district of Kau To, could fetch between HK$7.24 billion and HK$9.27 billion, or HK$7,019 to HK$8,987 per buildable square foot, when it is auctioned on Tuesday. 'This site is in a luxury location and it has been a long time since there were sales of land parcels in that area,' said Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tsz-pun. 'Although the government requires the successful bidder to build at least 970 units, the site is rare and sizeable. We believe it will attract large developers or consortiums because the investment amount involved is huge,' he said. At 248,180 sq ft and with a plot ratio of 4.156, the site would support a maximum gross floor area of slightly over 1.03 million sq ft. Midland Surveyors said it was likely to fetch a winning bid of HK$9.1 billion or HK$8,822 per sq ft. Lam said the winning developer may provide mainly apartments and a small number of houses. Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, a director of valuation advisory services at property consultant Cushman & Wakefield, was the most bullish of forecasters, predicting a winning bid of about HK$9.27 billion, or nearly HK$9,000 per sq ft. He expected a strong response despite a requirement to build a minimum number of flats. 'Including this site, there are a total of seven plots of land available in the area. But this site is the largest and will comprise around 55.5 per cent of the total gross floor areas the seven sites can offer. Given its size, it's attractive to developers who may want to bid for neighbouring sites to combine development,' Cheung said. The auction result would be a price indicator for six other government sites in the surrounding area, which have yet to be put on the market, as well as new development projects in the Sha Tin district, he said. David Chan Tai-wai, a director at Ricacorp Properties, said there were a total of 347 houses at Kau To. Many owners were long-term investors and as a result transaction volumes in the area were as low as 20 flat sales or less a year. Limited supply and prime location made the site more lucrative, he said. Ricacorp predicted the site would be sold for between HK$8.2 billion and slightly over HK$8.4 billion. But Ringo Lam Chun-chiu, valuation director at A.G. Wilkinson & Associates, who predicted the lowest price at HK$7.24 billion, said the site would have been more attractive if there was no condition on the minimum number of flats to be built. The winning bidder 'will be restrained from developing a very high-end project', he said. A government plan to boost the supply of flats had led to the requirement that the winning developer should build at least 970 flats on the site, he said, which meant flats would be only around 1,063 sq ft on average. 'That is not very big and affects how high-end the project can be and the type of flats it can offer. Also, only a small number of houses can be built on the site.' Victor Lai Kin-fai, chief executive of Centaline Professionals, initially estimated the site would fetch from HK$8.2 billion to HK$9.3 billion but revised this down to HK$8.2 billion.