A plot of residential land for sale by tender in the south of Hong Kong Island may be the latest proof that local developers are close to regaining the upper hand in the competition for space to build their projects. A plot next to the Wong Chuk Hang subway station, which can yield 492,990 square feet of total floor area for 600 homes, may fetch up to HK$10 billion (US$1.28 billion) by tender. A total of 10 bids were received for the sale, which closed at 2pm on Friday, dominated by local developers Sun Hung Kai Properties, Cheung Kong Property (Holdings), Henderson Land Development, New World Development, Great Eagle Holdings, Wheelock Properties, Chinachem Group and a joint venture between Sino Land and Kerry Properties. China Resources Land was the only mainland developer to submit a bid. The turnout is a stark contrast from a year ago, when developers from north of the border dominated Hong Kong’s land auctions and tenders, often paying substantially above market valuations to grab land. Those days ended in August, as a regulatory clampdown on outsize asset acquisitions crimped bids, and drove Chinese companies to the sidelines. “Mainland developers will become more selective in their land acquisition, and are unlikely to repeat buying land at ultra high prices,” said Thomas Lam, senior director at Knight Frank. MTR, the city’s subway developer and one of the largest land owners, offered the land for sale by tender. The premium for the phase two development at Wong Chuk Hang – close to the Ocean Park theme park – is likely to be HK$5.21 billion, or HK$10,568 per square foot, according to a source with knowledge of the tender document but who did not wish to be named. Together with construction cost, a residential housing project would require total investment of between HK$8.87 billion to HK$10.35 billion, or roughly HK$18,000 to HK$21,000 per sq ft when the project is completed in 2023, according to Lam’s estimates. That means the typical apartment complex would need to sell for HK$30,000 per square foot to ensure reasonable profit margin for the developer, he said. Meanwhile, sale of apartments through tenders have been achieving high prices. A buyer paid HK$400 million for a 3,917 sq ft flat at Henderson Land Development’s luxury project, 39 Conduit Road, on Mid-Levels, according to sources. The price translates to HK$102,119 per square foot, making it the sixth most expensive apartment in Asia on per square foot basis. Separately, New World Development said a corporate buyer bought 25 flats at its 250-unit Artisan House in Sai Ying Pun for HK$210 million. The buyer will have to pay 30 per cent stamp duty, or HK$63 million as per existing rules. New World offered 40 units for tender sale, which closed at 1pm on Friday.