Thursday, January 14, 2021

SCMP: Prime harbourfront plot in Hong Kong's Central district

Dan Voellm, MRICS

AP quoted in South China Morning Post - Site 3

Source: South China Morning Post, 13 January 2021, @Sandy Li

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, an iconic development site up for tender. Closing on 18 June 2021, the Site 3 submissions will - hopefully - provide a new vision and way forward in a city which has suffered more than necessary over the past months. Creativity, authenticity, sustainability and human scale are just a few of the aspects a submission needs to encompass to satisfy the city's opinionated residents, professionals and visitors alike. Development restrictions are causing headaches on too many levels.

Other voices in the article push for a similar level of innovation, be it William Cheng Kai-man of Magnificent Hotel Investments Ltd, Hannah Jeong of Colliers or Mark Blackwell of Morphis.

“While a hotel may not provide the highest financial returns, mixed-use developments often gain a distinct character by featuring a hotel,” said Dan Voellm, CEO and founder of AP Hospitality Advisors.

Can we hope for a hotel though?

Voellm further notes: "the location on the waterfront with expansive harbour vistas will offer a unique perspective on a key part of what makes Hong Kong. The trend of ultra-luxury hotels has yet to take hold in the city where it is lagging other markets in Asia like Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and (soon) Bangkok. As the most prized site for decades to come, an ultra-luxury hotel is an obvious choice from a hotelier point of view. Real estate developers chasing yields may very well disagree."

Ultimately, it will depend on the developer to get the mix right and attain their financial targets.

"Hong Kong has a scarcity of quality, public outdoor areas. Things have improved over the years, yet other cities in Asia have done way better. An integration of public spaces with outdoor dining and recreational space would be most welcome. We can already see the popularity of the stretches of accessible/activated waterfront. Naturally, retail and office uses are essential for the investment to provide compelling yields. At the same time, the planning brief creates challenges for developers to attain attractive yields", so Voellm.

Under a novel two-envelope submission by the HK government, there is more hope to witness something remarkable come to life. Let's see who will put their best foot forward!

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