In a time and place where Hong Kong, as a mega-city faces a myriad of challenges regarding real estate, we see the issues compounded by the influx of large amounts of money and resources from China, raising the prices of an increasingly unaffordable property market. There might be a sliver of hope that arises from Qianhai. An hour’s drive from Hong Kong, the stage has been set to compete as a free trade zone to Shanghai, and become the financial hub of China, along with other partnerships between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
An article mentioned Hong Kong as “one island – two policies”, and as developments emerge that look to find mutually beneficial ground between Hong Kong and her neighbors, an intermingling and possibly a dilution of the unique identity and vibe of Hong Kong could arise.
Due to the naturally hilly terrain being ill-suited for proper development, barring the partnerships along the borders, the mega-city has thrived by making use of the limited land space by reinventing itself. With Central being “CBD 1” having many businesses with their main headquarters there, while Kowloon East has been strategically developed to be “CBD 2”, where the same companies position their back-end offices to manage rental costs.
The night skyline in Hong Kong, a mega-city with potential and possibilities
Perhaps due to the high urbanization we see in Hong Kong, certain districts have established an identity over the years. Becoming go to places for specific industries, spawning the possibility for related services and businesses to thrive.
Wong Chuk Hang is such an area that has come into its own through the years. With a rich and storied history, Wong Chuk Hang, initially developed with factories and industry in mind, failed to go according to that plan due to limited transport infrastructure and food places.
Quaint, trendy, and following much greater accessibility after the demolishment of Wong Chuk Hang Estate for the MTR station, the region has blossomed into a hub for fashion, arts, media related businesses, and restaurant and cafes. With some establishments that have come, and gone, exuding an energy that mirrors the bustle and transience of Hong Kong.
One of the key factors resulting in Wong Chuk Hang being a fashion magnet would be the Lane Crawford Joyce Group, setting up shop. Along with the relatively “cheaper” rent as compared to the surrounding areas, the industrial aesthetic left behind in its initial conception has helped turn it into a draw. With more space for less rent, and a communal spirit between kindred spirits of both fashion, and business, coworking spaces have popped up, accentuating its attractiveness to similar minded designers and entrepreneurs and helping cement its status as Hong Kong’s fashion street.
A quick glance at the lay of the land of Wong Chuk Hang
Such an outing from Wong Chuk Hang has not gone unnoticed, with MTR Corp stating that “it was the highest number of bids they have ever received for property tenders at stations along rail lines.” for a plot of MTR Corp land next to Wong Chuk Hang station.
Looking at both Qianhai and Wong Chuk Hang, we can see that even with the tax incentives for companies moving to Qianhai, it won’t be till 2020 before it becomes fully operational. And even with Wong Chuk Hang being a hotbed of art, and fashion, with some businesses more entrenched than others, there is still opportunities and space for newcomers and more collaborations.
Wong Chuk Hang is a story in which a failed attempt into a stable, run of the mill industrial space saw opportunities in its own shortcomings, to reinvent its state of commerce and identity. With space and pricing woes plaguing every discussion regarding real estate, maybe it’s time to take a closer look. That the answers do lie within, and amidst a culture of community and collaboration, lies a model that we can replicate across the different districts in a bid to bring about a consensus to match price and value between the rich history of Hong Kong and her inhabitants.
|Businesses that pool their expertise and resources together keep a keen, competitive market advantage|