Resort-style offices in Discovery Bay proving popular

Far cheaper than the city, with balconies and sea views, offices are just 30 minutes from Central and the airport

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 4:09am

An office with a big balcony and a full sea view - all at an affordable rental and not far from Central - sounds too good to be true.

Until 18 months ago that is just what Jean-Francois Harvey, the founder of the Canadian law firm Harvey Law, thought.

But then Harvey, who lives in Discovery Bay, took a closer look at office accommodation available for lease right on his doorstep at DB North Plaza in Yi Pak Bay. After visiting the project - Block 1 of DB North Offices - he promptly rented a 723 square foot unit with a 362 sq ft balcony as a back-up to the firm's main Wan Chai office on Hong Kong Island.

Headquartered in Montreal, the law firm has 17 offices in 13 countries, including China, Vietnam, Dubai, Thailand, the United States and France.

"The Discovery Bay office is peaceful and calm. It is a great environment for work. Many of our lawyers in our Wan Chai office want to transfer here," said Harvey as he admired the view of the South China Sea. The office now serves as a favoured meeting place for staff and their overseas colleagues.

"Since it is just 30 minutes from the Hong Kong International Airport, it is a convenient place for our lawyers from Bangkok, Beijing and Vietnam to report to," said Harvey, whose firm is among 19 tenants leasing office units in the three-storey, southern European-style waterfront office block. Nineteen of 21 units have been leased.

The offices are also adjacent to Auberge Discovery Bay Hong Kong, the luxury resort hotel that had a soft opening in March.

Harvey declined to comment on the rent he secured when he took a lease last year, but said it was "far less than what the group pays for the Wan Chai office". According to Colliers International, office rents in Wan Chai are about HK$59 per square foot. Developer HKR International says rents in Block 1 of its DB North Offices currently range between HK$30 and HK$35 per sq ft of gross floor area.

In view of the success of DB North Office Block 1, HKR is now offering 50 units in Block 2 for lease at rents starting at HK$17,000 per month inclusive of government rates and management fees. It said the average monthly rent in Block 2 would be between HK$30 and HK$35 per sq ft, the same as Block 1.

Including balcony space, most units in Block 2 range in size from 566 to 1,581 sq ft of gross floor area, with an efficiency rate of more than 75 per cent and ceiling heights of up to 3.7 metres. Each office unit comes with its own balcony, with sizes ranging from 180 sq ft to 700 sq ft. The two office buildings are part of the 186,000 sq ft DB North Plaza in the Yi Pak area of Discovery Bay.

Harvey said he was considering relocating the Wan Chai office, which accommodates 15 staff, to Discovery Bay as "we don't have many walk-in customers". The firm practises mainly business and immigration law but also has specialists in family, real estate and labour law.

Originally, Harvey did not expect the DB branch to bring in new business, but was surprised when "some senior guys with multinational corporations just walked into the office".

Among the new clients is Apple, whose head of China business lives in Discovery Bay, and a resident involved in business with acting legend Bruce Lee's estate.