Lee Shau-kee has closed down his 23-year-old hotel in North Point, and is turning it into a commercial tower.
Newton Hotel on Electric Road saw its last day of operation this week. Seventy staff were affected, of which 50 were redeployed within the hotel group.
Henderson Land secured a conversion approval early this year to turn the 362-room hotel into a 27-storey commercial tower.
The hotel, which opened in 1992, is located in an area that has seen an influx of expatriates.
The district is where many Chinese immigrants, most notably from Fujian, set up their first homes. It’s known for its many old buildings.
It’s also one of the strongholds of pro-establishment parties. In fact, many of their headquarters are located here.
A growing number of families and businesses have decided to move to the district to take advantage of the relatively cheaper property prices, as well as the convenience — it’s only 10 minutes away from Victoria Park.
In the last few years, big developers, most notably the big three — Sun Hung Kai Properties (00016.HK), Cheung Kong Property Holdings (01113.HK) and Henderson Land (00002.HK) — have been making big investments in the district.
CK Property is building a residential and office tower with art facilities next to its Harbour Grand Hotel, opposite Newton Hotel, and AIA Tower, which is owned by Henderson Land. SHKP is also investing over HK$10 billion to turn the former North Point pier into luxury residential projects.
As a result, the dynamic district has attracted new tenants, mostly small to medium-sized businesses like fashion retailer I.T and publishing firms that could no longer afford or stomach the soaring rents in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Taikoo Place.
The Newton Hotel closure came at a time when the tourism sector is facing a slump.
Visitor arrivals in June fell 2.9 percent to 4.36 million from the previous month. The number of mainland tourists on individual travel, multiple-entry or one-week permit dropped more than 10 percent.
But hotel spokesman said the closure was not related to the soft tourist market.
Newton has another hotel in North Point — oddly enough, inside the famous wet market — where many residents are booked for a short-term stay.
Despite the hotel’s closure, regulars won’t miss Newton’s Hong Kong Old Restaurant, a Michelin-rated eatery noted for its Shanghai and Yangzhou cuisines. It had relocated to Nan Fung Tower in Sheung Wan earlier.
I myself am astounded by all these changes taking place in North Point. I once lived on Electric Road for nearly a decade.
Looking at the place now, I noticed that there are only very few shops that have not relocated.
One of them is Hong Kong Jockey Club. That tells you a lot about who will last in the city.
– Contact us at [email protected]