Hong Kong Island’s Chai Wan evolves from a forgotten suburb to a hiking gateway, artistic hub and gentrified commuting base
Artists and commuters appreciate the area’s affordable property and easy links to Shek O and Quarry Bay
For a long time, Chai Wan was the forgotten suburb at the end of the MTR’s Hong Kong Island Line, and dominated by public housing and industrial buildings.
Nowadays, the district can be roughly divided into three sections: the high-density residential clusters on the waterfront; the medium-density neighbourhood off the uphill Chai Wan Road; and the industrial zone.
The two largest residential communities in Chai Wan are the older Heng Fa Chuen, which is served by an MTR station of the same name, and the newer Island Resort on the Siu Sai Wan waterfront.
Heng Fa Chuen was developed in the 1980s, phase by phase, as part of the MTR development. It now comprises 48 residential blocks, with a waterfront promenade focal point for leisure activities. The flats offer a diverse range of floor plans for different housing needs.
Like Mei Foo Sun Chuen, Tai Koo Shing or City One Sha Tin, which were built in the same era, Heng Fa Chuen is a self-contained community. Daily shopping or commutes are easy, with all major transport links and a shopping arcade in the area.
Owing to its scale and popularity, Heng Fa Chuen has long been viewed as a so-called “blue-chip” housing estate indicating residential market activity. Between March 2016 and last month, an average of 14 flats changed hand across the complex, and at an average price of HK$12,950 per square foot, according to Land Registry records.
There is always demand for good-quality rentals at Heng Fa Chuen and Island Resort, particularly from professionals who work in the nearby Quarry Bay office area, estate agents say. Wendy Chiu, an associate director at Qfang.com, which has several offices across Hong Kong and the New Territories, says the company recently rented out a 473 sq ft, two-bedroom flat in Heng fa Chuen for HK$17,000 per month, or about HK$35.90 per square foot.
Island Resort is a cluster of modern skyscrapers above a two-storey shopping arcade and bus terminus, and within easy walking distance of a long waterfront promenade.
Between March 2016 and last month, an average of eight transactions took place there each month, at an average price of about HK$12,150 per square foot, according to Land Registry records. A recent letting handled by Qfang.com involved the leasing of a 498 sq ft two-bedroom high floor flat with an internal staircase and rooftop at HK$24,500 per month, or around HK$49 per square foot.
The latest residential project on the market is Island Garden, built by Nan Fung Development in the quiet, tree-lined neighbourhood of Chai Wan Road, which leads to the country parks of Shek O and Tai Tam.
This year, the developer has further released two batches of units to the market. Of the 38 units it introduced earlier this year, 36 were snapped up. And of the other 28 units being put up for sale in the second round, 23 were sold.
Over one-half of the 470 units at Island Garden have been sold so far, according to Nan Fung.
Unlike Tai Kok Tsui or Tsuen Wan, where industrial buildings were torn down to make way for new residential neighbourhoods, Chai Wan can still claim its industrial past.
The area’s underused industrial and warehouse spaces have been turned into artists’, photographers’ and designers’ studios.
According to one studio owner, Chai Wan will soon become a creative hub, thanks to its access and reasonable rents. In recent years, the area has already hosted a range of arts and cultural events for local and international artists, such as the Chai Wan Mei Art and Design Festival.
Chai Wan, therefore, has much to offer to the contemporary art world. Agents say the area’s rental and sale prices are also bound to increase as it as it is so close to Shek O. Chai Wan is also a hiking gateway to the Dragon’s Back trail, and its future looks bright as the property market is red hot at the moment, experts add.