Henderson Land Development has submitted a design plan for its Site 3 harbourfront development in Hong Kong’s Central district, according an application by the builder to the Town Planning Board, with the project expected to be worth as much as HK$73 billion ($9.3 billion) upon completion.
Plans for the 1.8 million square foot (172,819 square metre) project, which Henderson won last November with a HK$50.8 billion bid, include three commercial towers, government facilities and a reconstruction of the historic Star Ferry Clock Tower, which Henderson plans to rebuild with a slightly more prominent profile on the waterfront, according to documents submitted to the Town Planning Board.
“In terms of absolute height, (the buildings) are not skyscrapers, and as Henderson is one of the major landlords in the area, I trust the application would be acceptable,” said Vincent Cheung, managing director at Vincorn Consulting and Appraisal. “The extensive public space to be provided and the reestablishment of the clock tower would work in the developer’s favour while the planning application is under consideration,” he said.
The plot will be developed in two phases, according to Henderson’s plan, with the community element known as Site 3A expected to be completed in 2026. The office and retail section – Site 3B – is set to debut in 2031.
Of the total commercial area to be developed on Site 3, the office portion would cover about 691,301 square feet, with retail spanning the remaining 923,285 square feet, according to Henderson’s planning documents. To ensure clear views of the city’s famous harbour from Central, the buildings would each stand six to ten floors high, reaching no taller than 50 metres above the Principal Datum (mPD) baseline.
The towers will be connected via a landscaped deck, which tops the project and includes public open space, as well as a connecting footbridge that links to nearby developments such as the International Finance Centre. Tower 3 in the project would sit in front of Hongkong Land’s Jardine House, and across Man Yiu Street from the Exchange Square Complex.
The application for Site 3’s design, which was developed by consultants from Lead8, Wong & Ouyang, PWP Landscape Architecture, Arup and Urbis, came six years after the government submitted a planning brief setting out broad development parameters, as well as planning and design requirements for the site, to the Town Planning Board’s Metro Planning Committee (MPC).
The brief for the project required the eventual developer of Site 3 to reconstruct the Star Ferry Clock Tower, which in 2006 was demolished as part of the Central Reclamation Plan (CRP) to expand the city’s limited supply of usable land, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
“The reconstruction should pay due respect to its original design to allow visitors to reminisce the old Star Ferry Pier and the previous Central shoreline,” said the government in its earlier brief.
Under the proposal, the height of the rebuilt clock tower would exceed the height limit for the complex specified in the tender by more than 50 percent, and Henderson’s application requests a relaxation of height restrictions to allow for the taller structure.
“Coupled with its prime harbourfront location, the integrated development will benefit Hong Kong both economically and socially,” a government spokesperson said in an announcement when Henderson was announced as the tender winner. “The Government hopes that this project can optimise development space by providing the maximum possible commercial floor space to address the city’s strong demand for prime Grade A offices, while creating a world-class harbourfront with quality public open space and pedestrian-oriented connectivity.”
While Hong Kong’s third-largest developer by market capitalisation makes progress on its harbourfront site, it has been working hard to market space in the Henderson, an office project a few blocks to the west which is currently nearing completion.
In July US private equity giant Carlyle Group agreed to lease about 20,000 square feet (1,858 square metres) of space in the 36-storey office tower, with Henderson having paid a record HK$23.3 billion to acquire the site in 2017.
Henderson has also continued adding to its residential land bank in the city, and just last week won approval for the compulsory sale of an aging building in Wan Chai at a reserve price of HK$300 million, according to the HK01.
That project on Wing Cheung Street would allow the firm to add nearly 71,000 square feet of new space to its portfolio, when combined with adjoining sites.
In addition to that Hong Kong Island project, in September, the developer secured the third of four adjoining sites for a residential project in Kowloon’s To Kwa Wan neighbourhood with a HK$1.2 billion compulsory sale of another ageing building.
About a month before that purchase, Henderson won a residential site in Hong Kong Island’s Tai Hang neighbourhood, an upscale residential area uphill from Causeway Bay, through a compulsory sale which valued the property at HK$588.7 million.