Hysan Development , Causeway Bay’s largest landlord, has set aside HK$2 billion (US$256.2 million) to upgrade its Lee Garden portfolio in the prime Hong Kong shopping district and turn it into a one-stop luxury shopping destination. The proposed “Lee Gardens Rejuvenation” includes the development of the Caroline Hill Road land parcel , Hysan executives said in a briefing last Thursday. The revamp will turn Lee Gardens into the “home of luxury”, said Ricky Lui, executive director and chief operating officer at Hysan. A number of top international brands such as Cartier, Chanel, Dior, Hermes and Louis Vuitton plan to expand in Lee Gardens, with flagship stores in excess of 10,000 sq ft. The new Caroline Hill Road development will expand Hysan’s Lee Gardens portfolio by 30 per cent, the company said. The plan includes new covered walkways and footbridges, offering pedestrians a weatherproof walk to and from Causeway Bay MTR station and the Lee Gardens area comprising Hysan Place, Lee Garden One, Two, Three, Five, Six as well as the Caroline Hill Road project. “People nowadays will only go to the biggest shop, with the best experience and the one with the most variety when prices of the goods are the same in different shops,” Lui said. He said a unique experience is important to attract and create the motivation for visitors to come as the tourism landscape has changed, adding that for tourists coming from the mainland, big brands and food are no longer enough as the same experience is available in cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen. “[Tourists] need a deeper level of travel rather than a superficial one.” A planned underpass linking the car parks in all phases of Lee Gardens will further improve the traffic flow in the area, according to Hysan. The whole revamp will divide the Lee Garden area into three zones catering to high spenders with drivers, young families with cars, visitors and general shoppers, according to the company. Hysan plans to complete the upgrade to its HK$90 billion commercial portfolio in phases by 2026, with the revamp starting in October. The first project – a 7,000 sq ft urban park on the fourth floor of Hysan Place – will open in January. It includes a 4,000 sq ft dedicated skateboard park, the first on Hong Kong Island. Hysan reported slightly lower profit and sales for the first half , as the city’s toughest Covid-19 restrictions during the height of the fifth wave of the pandemic slammed the retail segment. Despite a sharp decline in tourists because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lee Gardens has seen strong local consumption as big brands in the area were doing well, Lui said. “We’ve seen how Lee Gardens is strongly connected to Hong Kong’s market,” Lui said, adding that these brands wanted to further strengthen ties between local consumption and their businesses. After nearly three years of Covid-19 curbs casting a shadow on Hong Kong’s economy , things are beginning to look up. Retail sales in October rose 3.9 per cent year on year in value terms to HK$31.9 billion. And with the government practically dismantling Covid restrictions , the city’s economy is set to receive a boost from the anticipated influx of tourists. Rising inflation globally and tightening interest rates, however, still pose a threat to domestic consumption. Hysan has 4.5 million sq ft of office, retail and residential tenants space mainly in Causeway Bay’s Lee Gardens area, according to its website. When the Caroline Hill project is ready, Hysan’s office portfolio will be about one-third larger than its retail space, Lui said. He added the pandemic has altered the office landscape, leading to changes in office use and requirements amid the work-from-home trend and companies cutting down on costs. In August 2021, Hysan formed a joint venture with the Swiss flexible office giant IWG to exclusively operate all IWG brands in Hong Kong and throughout the Greater Bay Area, including the group’s flagship Hysan Place and Lee Garden Three under the “Spaces” and “Signature” brands. “Nowadays, flex has become a feature of offices,” Lui said. “If you don’t have a very strong co-working element today, it’s like a shopping mall without restaurants.” Co-working spaces in Lee Gardens accounted for more than 10 per cent of the overall office tenants, he said, adding that it reflects the changing work environment.