Office space in Genesis building offered at below market rents to entice creative industries

Spaces at 22-storey Genesis available to artists and start-ups below market rate

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 January, 2015, 10:59pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 January, 2015, 12:49am

Creative workers are being enticed by the promise of cheaper rents to Wong Chuk Hang's first industrial-turned-commercial building, following revitalisation measures introduced by the government in 2009.

About 10 per cent of the office space has already been leased to three non-governmental organisations at one-third of the market rent to support young artists and start-ups, said David Fong Man-hung, managing director of the development company behind Genesis, at the building's opening ceremony yesterday.

Built in the 1980s, the 22-storey Genesis was originally named Good Prospect Building, before developer Hip Shing Hong decided to spend HK$200 million to revitalise it in 2012 through a Development Bureau scheme intended to optimise land use.

Fong added that it had taken some time to agree with government officials on how to comply with the scheme, which was introduced in 2009 to encourage owners of old industrial buildings to redevelop the buildings.

"It was a new policy and it involved several government departments," he said.

"We had difficulties conforming to the parking space planning requirements as an old industrial building, at first. So it needed a lot of discussions with departments to solve the problem."

The building now has seven parking spaces, rather than the dozens previously required by the government.

Fong said about 20 per cent of the office space has already been leased and the rent was about HK$15 per sq ft on average. He believed the level was competitive as the rents of nearby industrial buildings were between HK$8 and HK$25 per sq ft.

Some of that space was leased at about one-third of that rate to the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Federation of Youth Groups and the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals to help those organisations support artists and young entrepreneurs.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was in charge of the policy as development minister from 2007 to 2012, hoped there would be other similar projects in the future.

But she conceded the plan had drawn criticism from some artists who believed the scheme had pushed up rents. "I hope the same policy can also bring them benefits," she told guests, including Executive Councillor Bernard Chan, at the ceremony.