Hong Kong-listed Swire Properties has teamed up with China Motor Bus Company to redevelop a former bus depot in eastern Hong Kong into a large combined residential and commercial space, according to a Swire representative who spoke with Mingtiandi.
The project at 391 Chai Wan Road in Chai Wan, at the easternmost stop on the Hong Kong MTR’s Island Line was approved by the Hong Kong Building Department in an announcement last week from city planning authorities that permit the joint venture to develop a pair of 36 and 38-storey residential towers of up to 440,000 square feet (40,877 square metres).
A Swire representative who spoke with Mingtiandi, however, indicated that the project has been approved for construction of three residential towers, shops, a covered public transport terminus and a public open space with an aggregate gross floor area of approximately 692,000 square feet.
This cooperative effort between the operator of Hong Kong’s passenger buses and the property division of the city’s Swire conglomerate is only the most recent hook-up between the old-line Hong Kong corporates, after the companies launched a joint venture office tower in Wong Chuk Hang in April.
Building Homes on a Former Bus Depot
According to the August Monthly Digest published by the Buildings Department last week, China Motor Bus Company’s former bus depot in Chai Wan, which was the biggest facility operated by the company between 1977 and the late 1990s, has been approved for development into a residential and commercial complex, providing up to 436,800 square feet of homes above a three-storey commercial podium totaling 1,999 square feet.
Winning approval for this most recent construction plan for the 14,750 square foot site is the end of a decade-long journey for China Motor Bus Company. The company first applied to the government in 2002 for permission to build to a 1,316-home residential project, which won approval in 2004.
However, in 2008 China Motor Bus submitted a new plan which called for developing the site into four 57-storey skyscrapers. After that plan was rejected by the building department, the company submitted another plan for building three residential towers comprised of 780 units, only to have that scheme turned down in 2012.
Tie-Up With Swire Leads to Project Approval
According to an account in Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, following the earlier failed attempts to win approval for a larger project, a joint venture between Swire Properties and China Motor Bus bought the factory site for HK$850 million ($108 million) in 2015, with Swire Properties taking an 80 percent interest in the venture, and CMB retaining the remaining 20 percent.
The latest documents issued by the Buildings Department didn’t disclose the date the project could be started.
China Motor Bus Company was the first motor bus company in Hong Kong, and gained fame for introducing double-decker buses to Hong Kong Island before the MTR Island Line was opened in 1985. After its franchise lapsed in 1998, the company has primarily pursued property real estate project by re-developing former bus depot properties which it owned into new real estate projects.
Swire Launches Wong Chuk Hang Office Building
Most famous for its Pacific Place and Taikoo Place projects in Hong Kong, Swire Properties’ latest joint venture with the bus management firm comes soon after the two companies worked together on re-developing a former bus depot in the city’s Wong Chuk Hang area.
In April this year, Swire Properties and CMB celebrated the topping out of South Island Place in the southern Hong Kong Island neighbourhood. The 28-storey joint venture office tower was Swire’s first Grade-A office project in the up-and-coming commercial and residential hub of Wong Chuk Hang.
The development of the building took over twenty years since Swire and China Motor Bus jointly purchased the former bus station site in Wong Chuk Hang in 1994. The partners were able to modify the planning permission to allow development a commercial project on the site in 2014, while the development broke ground one year later in 2015.