New World Development (NWD, 00017.HK) owns several commercial projects near the harbourfront area, making it vulnerable to criticisms that it will profit from its proposal to redevelop the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, Apple Daily reported on Friday.
The property company insists that it wants to undertake the redevelopment project not for profit but to fulfill its social responsibility.
At a joint press conference with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), NWD senior project director Jeff Tung Jing-kong said the group hasn’t turned a profit in the past 11 years operating the Avenue of Stars, which is part of the promenade, and will probably continue to be losing money for the remaining nine years of its 20-year management contract.
Even so, it is still willing to lead the harbourfront enhancement project that is estimated to cost more than HK$100 million (US$12.9 million) to benefit as many people as it could, Tung said.
The Town Planning Board last week gave conditional approval to the project that was jointly put forward by NWD and LCSD.
Under the plan, the promenade would be closed off for three years for renovation, which will see the addition of new facilities, including restaurants, retail shops, observation decks, performance venues and other rest and recreation options. Construction is expected to begin as soon as in October.
NWD will bear the total construction cost in return for a new 20-year management contract.
However, as socially conscious as NWD sounds, Apple Daily found the New World Center currently being remodeled is adjacent to the extended promenade. The NWD property will have a shopping mall, a hotel and office space available after completion.
On the west end of the promenade, the retail shops and restaurants planned in the enhancement project will be right across the street from where NWD’s new shopping center will be located. On the east end will be opposite NWD’s New World Millennium Hong Kong Hotel.
Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of the independent think tank Professional Commons, said NWD will clearly benefit from the enhancement plan as more people will visit the area.
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