Pub owners have blamed an invasion of hipsters swilling cheap beer at the local 7-Eleven for killing off some of Lan Kwai Fong’s best bars and clubs. Now the millennial menaces are poised to claim another victim in the famed Hong Kong nightlife district, as the world’s most valuable co-working startup is said to be eyeing a new centre in the former Hotel LKF.
New York-based shared office provider WeWork is reportedly in advanced talks to set up its latest Hong Kong centre in the property, which has been closed for conversion into an office building, according to an account in Bloomberg. The company is looking to expand its network in Asia as the region’s co-working market heats up and local rivals mount their own challenges to the $20 billion flexible office startup.
Just last week, WeWork revealed that it would set up a new location in Tokyo early next year, on the same day that mainland China’s naked Hub and Singapore’s JustCo announced a merger to create the region’s largest premium office platform.
Boutique Hotel May Make Way for Co-Working Space
Opened in 2006, Hotel LKF is located at 55 D’Aguilar Street and provides pedestrian access from Central to the SOHO cultural and entertainment district. The nine-story boutique hotel owned by Peterson Group closed its doors for renovation on July 1 and is expected to re-open as an office property by the middle of next year.
The hotel closure comes as an influx of mainland tenants has driven office rents in Hong Kong’s Central district to the highest levels worldwide. WeWork is poised to benefit from Central’s increasingly heated office market, where co-working operators can charge prime rates for their varied offerings of hot desks, dedicated seats and private offices.
WeWork’s current Hong Kong footprint consists of two centres, at 33 Lockhart Road in the city’s Wan Chai area, and 535 Jaffe Road in Causeway Bay. The price of a dedicated desk starts at HK$6,300 ($807) per month at the Wan Chai location and HK$6,990 at the Causeway Bay centre.
The agreement with WeWork over the prospective Lan Kwai Fong centre is not final and the talks may still fall through, according to the news agency report.
WeWork Grows Its Asia Presence
Founded in 2010, the rapidly-growing WeWork took its shared office platform to Asia for the first time last July with a space in Shanghai’s Jing An district. The company has since opened another seven locations in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, while preparing to launch its first centre in Singapore.
Last week, WeWork announced a partnership with Japan’s SoftBank Group to open its first shared office space in Tokyo by early next year. On the same day, Shanghai-based naked Hub said it was merging with Singapore’s JustCo to create a 41-centre shared office platform spanning 140,000 square metres of space across nine cities in six countries.
The tie-up between the WeWork rivals creates Asia’s leading operator of high-end shared office space. The announcement came shortly after Gaw Capital-backed naked Hub unveiled its first non-mainland location in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan area, said to be almost fully occupied.