The Hong Kong government’s plan to add 16,000 residential units and 4.3 million sq ft of commercial space in the Kai Tak area - which will be within a 30 minute train ride to Admiralty by 2021 – is likely to stir up a fierce bidding war for land sites among deep-pocketed developers keen to establish a foothold in the city’s next core business district. Residential land prices in Kai Tak, the site of the city’s old airport, have surged 160 per cent since 2013 to HK$13,600 per square foot. “The extra 16,000 units is similar to the size of Kingswood Villa [a major housing development in Tin Shui Wai]. The increase is quite substantial,” said Dorothy Chow, regional director of the valuation department at JLL. Chow said the government’s move to increase flat supply in Kai Tak by increasing development intensity was an efficient way to ease the housing shortage. “It will be the largest land supply in an urban area and will become the investment focus of all developers,” she said. Kai Tak’s new flat supply was set to increase to 50,000 with a target population of 134,000 after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying unveiled a plan to add 16,000 units when he delivered his last policy speech on January 18. Leung also announced that an extra 4.3 million sq ft of commercial space would be added in Kai Tak, which would raise the total commercial area excluding hotels to 16.4 million sq ft, according to JLL. The Kai Tak area will have offices, hotels, housing and community facilities, making Kai Tak a “city within a city”, complete with sustainable resources and smart- city facilities. A HK$62.7 million, 50,000-seat multi-purpose sports complex will be built, as well as parks and green spaces. The accessibility of the area, which includes a cruise terminal that opened in 2013 at the tip of the old airport runway, will greatly improve when the HK$100 billion Sha Tin-Central Link is completed in 2021. Then, travel time from the new Kai Tak MTR station to Admiralty will be just 30 minutes. Three out of six hotel sites, located next to the cruise terminal, will be offered by government tender either this or next fiscal year. The area will also become a new hub for government facilities as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Inland Revenue Department will both move to the area. The government has sold 9 plots – eight for residential use and one for commercial purposes – for a total of HK$44.33 billion since it offered the first lot by tender in June 2013. Kai Tak residential site ‘Area 1L Site 1’ attracts 18 bids from developers Victor Lai Kin-fai, the chief executive of consultancy Centaline Centaline Professionals, said residental land prices in Kai Tak were pushed above HK$10,000 per sq ft after mainland conglomerate HNA bought two lots for record prices. “It will unlikely return to the previous HK$5,000 to HK$6,000 per sq ft anymore,” he said. The next tender sale for a residential site, known as Kai Tak Area 1L Site 2, could yield an estimated gross floor area of 510,400 sq ft and is expected to fetch HK$5 billion, Lai said. Another 1.09 million sq ft commercial-hotel site could generate bids of up to HK$7.6 billion, he added. The two sites are included in the January to March government land sale programme but no final date has been set for the tender. Land prices in Kai Tak were pushed to a new high after HNA group in December purchased its second residential site for HK$5.41 billion, or HK$13,600 per square foot, setting a record in the Kai Tak area. In November the group also bought the adjoining residential site for HK$8.84 billion, or HK$13,500 per sq ft. In November, Lifestyle International Holdings won a commercial site, designated for a twin tower development, for HK$7.39 billion, or HK$6,773 per sq ft, the highest price paid for a commercial site by government tender. In 2011, the government unveiled its plan to turn Kowloon East into a new central business district with 31 million sq ft of commercial space. The project would be double the size of Central business district in terms of area and would include Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay and the old Kai Tak airport site. All 122 Kai Tak flats snapped up in latest release at ‘affordable’ Hong Kong housing project Marcos Chan, head of research at CBRE Hong Kong’s Southern China and Taiwan office, said JP Morgan recently agreed to take 225,000 sq ft of space at an office building in Kowloon Bay. The investment bank will relocate facilities that were in Sha Tin and Mong Kok to the new office building, jointly developed by Link Asset Management and Nan Fung Development and due to be completed in 2019. “It will set a trend for other industry peers to follow and consider relocating their office to the new area,” Chan said. Charles Chan, managing director of valuation and professional services at Savills, believes that over the next 10 years the area could develop into a replica of the office-retail-hotel-residential development at West Kowloon Station. “I will not be surprised to see commercial land in the area sold for record prices,” he said.