Retail review: The Forum, Exchange Square
Hongkong Land is the biggest landlord in Central, owning more Grade A office space in the financial district than any other property giants in the city. In 2011, the company decided to redevelop the Forum, a low-rise shopping centre wedged between the three Exchange Square towers. In a matter of weeks, the entire structure came down like the Wall of Jericho, along with the six restaurants, two coffee shops and a Wellcome supermarket inside.
Three years of constant jack hammering and pile driving later, the Forum finally reopened today. The new five-storey glass-encased structure looks like a cross between the Louvre Pyramid and Darth Vader's mouthpiece. But hold your horses, my fellow desk jockeys, there is nothing in it for you. The building now houses Standard Chartered's wealth management centre and not a thing more. There is a tiny concession stand in the corner but it only serves Standard Chartered employees, I was told, and accepts only prepaid staff cards.
Hongkong Land's decision to kick out every tenant useful to office workers and replace them with a glorified airport lounge for the rich verges on the unconscionable. While property companies are here to make money (we of all people understand that), the flagrant disregard for salary men and women who struggle daily to find affordable food in Central is what makes the new Forum so brutally disappointing and, sadly, so very Hong Kong.