Date
25 July 2017
The heavily overbudget West Kowloon Cultural District may resort to selling land to private developers to cover funding shortfalls. Photo: Bloomberg
The heavily overbudget West Kowloon Cultural District may resort to selling land to private developers to cover funding shortfalls. Photo: Bloomberg

West Kowloon Cultural District mulls land auctions for funding

West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong’s largest arts and cultural project, could put some or all of its commercial and residential land up for tender, Sing Tao Daily reported Monday.

WKCD is in financial distress that is jeopardizing its third phase of development, including a musical theater and a music center, the report said.

While the district — which aims to become one of the world’s largest cultural quarters, comprising facilities for art and education as well as public space — now sits on cumulative funding of as much as HK$23.5 billion (US$5.82 billion), that is not enough to pay the construction costs of all the planned facilities.

The government confirmed it is now considering whether to allow the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to seek tenders for three land plots in the Artist Square Development Area.

The objective is to obtain funds for the sustainable development of the district and to prevent the authority from asking the Legislative Council for more funding.

The land plots cover a combined area of 65,000 square meters, of which about 12,600 square meters are zoned for residential purposes.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who chairs the authority, told legislators selling the land to private developers is expected to bring in profit that can be used for operating expenses and construction.

She said extra funding appropriations will be necessary if the land is not auctioned off.

The authority, which has commissioned a consulting firm to evaluate feasible financial options, said the proposal to sell land is still only at the conceptual stage and it will discuss details with the government before reporting its conclusions to the Legislative Council.

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