Weekend Property

Rejuvenated Western District welcomes influx of families and entrepreneurs

Western District is latest district to profit from MTR expansion with new developments, trendy restaurants and shopping malls

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 December, 2016, 11:17am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 December, 2016, 3:21pm

The MTR can dramatically improve lives. The railway system has transformed parts of the New Territories into vibrant new towns. After the opening of the West Rail, Kam Tin and Tuen Mun have had a facelift, with developers racing to build new homes to serve an expanding population.

Now it’s the turn of Western District to undergo change, thanks to the extension of the MTR’s Island Line into Kennedy Town.

The result is evident with the surrounding areas booming with new developments, trendy restaurants and shopping malls.

Launch date set for Hong Kong MTR’s new South Island Line

The area has become a magnet for a more diverse community of expats and local families. In addition, a growing group of entrepreneurs are making the Western District their home thanks to its proximity to Central, availability of affordable rental options relative to the expensive Mid-Levels area, and access to flexible co-working spaces.

In the year to November, the area has seen the completion and handover of at least six residential projects including Imperial Kennedy (161 units), The Hudson (134 units), One South Lane (92 units), The Nova (255 units), Eivissa Crest (106 units) and Park Crest (48 units), according to Buildings Department records.

Hong Kong MTR’s new South Island Line to run by end of year

Early next year, New World Development is set to market another residential project, Artisan House, off-plan. The arts-themed project will comprise 250 units configured as studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, a company spokeswoman says.

Located at 1 Sai Yuen Lane, Artisan House is close to the Sai Ying Pun MTR station. Estate agents say the layout mix will attract buy-to-let investors thanks to its convenient location and amenities. Artisan House will be marketed as part of The Artisanal Bohemian Collection, which includes Eight South Lane in Kennedy Town and Bohemian House in Sai Ying Pun. The developer says more than 80 per cent of the Eight South Lane units are owned by investors as rental properties.

In high-density urban areas such as Western District, land for housing development has to bewhere old buildings are demolished.

In August, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) successfully claimed 100 per cent ownership of Po Fat Building – believed to be earmarked for redevelopment – through an auction. Built in 1964, the building is located at Belcher’s Street and Shek Shan Street, occupying an 8,822 sq ft area.

Henderson Land is also reported to be pursuing full ownership of an old industrial building next to Po Fat Building.

So far, neither SHKP or Henderson have said anything about the possibility of merging the two sites into a larger, potentially more profitable redevelopment project.

Midland IC&I, the commercial real estate arm of Midland Realty, is looking for a suitor for a seven-storey serviced apartment block at 5 to 7 Gillies Street, Kennedy Town that it is marketing. The landlord of the serviced apartment is asking for HK$180 million.

Alon Man, a sales director handling the sale, says the property generates about HK$468,000 of rental income per month. He says it makes commercial sense to consider investing in the long-term rental property.

Thanks to improved connectivity, entrepreneur-friendly co-working spaces have popped up across the Western District this year. Many of these spaces have been converted from older commercial or industrial spaces to take advantage of lower rental costs.

Offering a collaborative environment, back-office support, 24/7 access and business matching services for start-ups and freelancers, several new co-working spaces have sprung up around Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town.

One of them, located in Cheung Hing Industrial Building, is Campfire Collaborative Space, established this year. It has a well-stocked canteen, shower rooms and front desk services in addition to stylishly designed spaces.

Another venture to have opened this year is MakerHive, which targets the creative community, such as designers, architects and fashion designers.

Paperclip, located at Wing Lok Street, is geared towards tech start-ups. Its Amplifi Paperclip SaaS Accelerator programme offers one-day courses, such as “How to Run an E-Business”, which are helpful to start-ups.

At 511 Queen’s Road West is theDesk, an 8,000 sq ft co-working community with professional support, from legal to accounting, finance, design and marketing. It is hosting a pop-up art exhibition featuring works from local artists until next month.