The Hong Kong government is said to have submitted proposals to the District Council and Town Planning Board for replacement of a number of low-density buildings in the Admiralty and Central districts with as many as 9 Grade A office buildings, am730 reported Monday.
Even as it is desperate to find land plots for residential buildings, the government is said to be keen on carving out additional space in the central business districts on the Hong Kong Island for new top-tier office buildings, the report said.
Authorities aim to create new office space equivalent to the combined floor area at the two IFC buildings, according to the report.
Queensway Plaza, a two-storey shopping arcade built in 1980, is rumored to be the first of the buildings targeted for reconstruction. Sources told am730 that the government plans to turn the 35-year-old building into a 50-storey Grade A office tower and a hotel. The project is expected to provide as many as 80,000 square meters of floor space.
Authorities are also said to be proposing to turn the existing headquarters facility for the Hong Kong Red Cross and the Harcourt Road Freshwater Pumping Station into an office building that will offer 21,000 square meters of office space. The pump station will be relocated to within the Hong Kong Park under the government’s proposal.
The Murray Road Carpark Building, which is right opposite Cheung Kong Centre, is also proposed to be rebuilt to an office building with 40,000 square meters of floor space.
If the construction work on all nine office buildings commences at the same time, citizens could be walking by a new construction site every five minutes, the report noted.
Stanley Lau, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, said the demand for Grade A office buildings has remained high throughout the years. Asked why the government has not considered allocating some of the office buildings to other districts, Lau said high density is a feature of financial hubs the world over.
James Cheung of Centaline Surveyors said rents for office space in Central have always been high due to strong demand and low vacancy rate. New supply will help meet market demand, he said.
According to figures from the Rating and Valuation Department earlier this month, 103,000 square meters of new office space was being made available in 2014, representing a decrease of 16 percent over the previous year.
Of the new supply last year, 85,000 square meters came from Grade A office buildings, but about 70 percent of that space was in districts such as Shatin and Tsuen Wan.
The government has forecast that some 219,000 square meters of new office space will be made available this year.
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