Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong's historic Ho Tung Gardens sold for a record HK$5.1 billion

Heritage expert hopes grounds can be preserved although the house had been reduced to rubble

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 January, 2015, 3:26am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 April, 2015, 6:45pm

A Hong Kong-listed developer has paid a record HK$5.1 billion for the historic Ho Tung Gardens on The Peak without its main building, which the previous owner demolished two years ago.

The transaction price, released by the Land Registry yesterday, was HK$2 billion less than the HK$7 billion sought by owner Ho Min-kwan a few years ago during talks with the government to keep the estate intact.

After news of the sale spread, a government heritage adviser appealed to the buyer - understood to be mainland tycoon Cheung Chung-kiu who has been dubbed the "Li Ka-shing of Chongqing" - to preserve the grounds.

"Although we failed to save the house, I still hope the developer will conserve the garden in an innovative way to reflect the history of the complex," Antiquities Advisory Board chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo said last night.

According to the registry, a company called Season Glitter officially took ownership of the site on Tuesday after the 120,000 square foot site at 75 Peak Road was put up for tender last month.

It becomes Hong Kong's most expensive residential site sale by private tender, according to property consultancy Savills, which conducted the sale.

With a total buildable area of 62,000 sq ft, the HK$5.1 billion price tag represents HK$82,258 per sq ft of buildable area.

The sale also involves transaction taxes - including double stamp duties and stamp duties - of about HK$1.2 billion, the highest ever in a single residential deal.

"The transacted price is a market price," Lam said. "It will be a good reference for public discussion under a public consultation on heritage conservation. Are we willing to pay for it?"

Ho is a granddaughter of famous businessman Sir Robert Hotung, who built the complex in 1927. The government was considering declaring the complex a statutory monument, but the high price of preservation forced it to abandon the plan in 2012. Negotiations broke down and the house was bulldozed in 2013.

CC Land chairman Cheung is a keen collector of Peak residences including King Yin Lei mansion, which he bought for HK$430 million in 2007.

Cheung is a native of Chongqing . CC Land develops and invests in properties located on the mainland, including office buildings and high-end homes.

Hotung was the first non-European permitted to live on The Peak.

Historians said the estate, built for his second wife Clara, was an example of Chinese Renaissance architecture and a reminder of an important chapter in the city's colonial history.