There’s a place in Hong Kong where residential towers are within walking distance of an expansive town park – where nature abounds on its doorstep, and traditional villages rub shoulders with modern malls. Residents can buy or lease a home there for comparatively less than the denser urban locales – yet, Tin Shui Wai has endured its share of detractors, and fans. Mud tends to stick and, while some residents tell of friendly locals, interesting leisure experiences and a cheaper cost of living, the northwestern New Territories new town has had a hard time shaking off its ignominious nickname as the “city of sadness”. However, Hong Kong’s most prominent developers have identified the district’s potential. Early in 2015, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), Sino Land, Henderson Land Development and Far East Consortium all vied for rights to develop a site with nearly 1 million sq ft of gross floor area at Tin Wing light rail terminus in Tin Shui Wai, offered by MTR Corp. The successful bidder, SHKP, announced its intent to invest HK$7 billion in a 1,500-unit development on the site, expected to be completed in 2021. This is on top of SHKP’s 2014 acquisition of two large-scale sites in the district, near the scenic Hong Kong Wetland Park, announced as land-banking for future population growth. David Ji, Knight Frank director and head of research and consultancy, Greater China, says that in a city where home ownership is out of the reach for many, Tin Shui Wai “is still one of the places in Hong Kong where there is relatively cheap housing”. Originally a marshland, Tin Shui Wai was developed in the 1980s as the second new town in Yuen Long district, and the eighth in Hong Kong. Lying some 25km from Central, the district was certainly considered far-flung by those reluctant to even cross the harbour. But while Tin Shui Wai might not have the affluence of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, Ji says the town is developing in terms of its infrastructure, and becoming more accessible to central business districts. “There is now an extensive light rail and rail network in the area,” he says. “Schools and other community facilities have been built. A couple of shopping malls are being revamped to give them a more modern appeal.” The district’s proximity to mainland hubs such as Shenzhen and Qianhai, via the Western Corridor, is also an incentive for people engaged in cross-border business, Ji adds. Tin Shui Wai is still one of the places in Hong Kong where there is relatively cheap housing. There is now an extensive light rail and rail network in the area David Ji, Knight Frank director and head of research and consultancy, Greater China Perry Fong Kai-ming, Centaline Property agency’s principal sales director in charge of the northwest New Territories, believes Tin Shui Wai’s bad reputation is undeserved compared to the lifestyle it offers. He cites Kingswood Villas, a large private estate developed by Cheung Kong Holdings in the 1990s providing extensive clubhouse facilities, a shopping plaza and integrated country club complete with indoor and outdoor pools, bowling alley, tennis courts and various sport halls. The development – now sold out – is also situated next to an LRT station, giving access to Tuen Mun and Yuen Long, and to all parts of Hong Kong via the West Rail. He expects that SHKP’s future developments, notably the Tin Wing station project, offering mainly small- to medium-sized units connected by a footbridge to a nearby bus terminus and park, and two large-scale, lower-density projects beside the nature-rich Hong Kong Wetland Park, to be well received by the market. The agents also point to concerted government efforts to meet residents’ lifestyle expectations and create jobs locally or in nearby areas. Notable in achieving both has been the construction of Tin Shui Wai Hospital, a 12-storey, 300-bed public health complex due to open soon. The biggest impetus for the area, Fong says, will be the realisation of plans for Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area, a “green city” positioned as a regional economic and civic hub. It will provide 60,000 new flats and 150,000 employment opportunities, according to the government. Development spaces will be allocated for various housing, commercial and special industrial uses as well as government, institutional and community facilities to serve the population in the new development area the nearby Tin Shui Wai, Tuen Mun and Yuen Long districts. Fong believes the scope of professional and blue-collar jobs will add to the appeal of Tin Shui Wai. He expects that the housing supply pipeline will deliver the cheapest private flats in Hong Kong – at a lower price than neighbouring Shenzhen. Fong believes, that makes for a compelling proposition from an investment and owner-occupier perspective.