MTR Corp. is known for its well-managed properties but there are two things to know about its car park management.
First, its car parks are not exactly safe. Look at the Heng Fa Chuen car park, which Typhoon Hato turned into a Venetian canal on Wednesday. Thirty cars were like submarines, according to local dailies, in the over-flooded housing estate. Some car owners probably went to bed that night thinking about writing off their vehicles.
Second, MTRC car parks are getting more expensive. This month, the hourly rental in its Elements shopping mall has seen a 33 per cent rise.
The new hourly rental is HK$20 per hour, up from HK$15 in December. A company spokesman said the new rate reflects the market price and supply in neighboring areas.
The New Mandarin Plaza run by Wilson Parking and 1 Beijing Road car park have seen between 7.1 and 8.3 per cent hourly parking hike to between HK$28 and HK$30.
But a 33 per cent increase in Elements, where many ICC tenants work, along with many rich tenants above the Kowloon station, is more than just catching up with market rates.
To enjoy a three-hour valet parking, one has to spend over HK$2,000 at Elements, making it one of the most prohibitive offers in Hong Kong.
Parking can be expensive in West Kowloon and Tsim Sha Tsui, especially after Henderson Land bought a Middle Road car park through a land tender for HK$4.7 billion three years ago.
Interestingly, three months ago, the Lee Shau-kee flagship took over the Murray Building car park for a record price of HK$23.28 billion, making it one of the world’s most expensive land plots at HK$50,000 per square foot.
It has been reported that New World Development also raised its hourly parking fee by 20 per cent to HK$20.
The Henry Cheng flagship, which has been acquiring commercial plots in Cheung Sha Wan, having spent over HK$11 billion in three months, got a little bit more from car owners to finance its landbank acquisitions.
The overall car park rate seems inevitable after 22,546 cars were registered for the first time in the first half this year.
In a city that is getting smaller, the price of a car park goes in tandem with the price of small units, many of which are less than the area of two car parks.
For example, a car park in a middle-class new Tseung Kwan O residential building can fetch over HK$2 million compared with an average of HK$6 million for a two bedroom flat.
And now thanks to Typhoon Hato, we know that a car park can be a dangerous investment, too.
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