Hong Kong’s Lofter Group is moving closer to building a HK$1.9 billion ($242 million) commercial tower in Kowloon, having this week applied for a compulsory sale to acquire full ownership of an ageing building in Jordan with a pair of local partners, which media reports identified as private equity firm Alphalex Capital Management and Primas Asset Management.
Having acquired more than 90 percent ownership in the 60-year-old property at 19 to 21 Nanking Street, which is said to be valued at HK$109 million ($13.8 million), should the acquisition under Hong Kong rules streamlining acquisitions of aging properties succeed in winning full ownership of the property, Lofter and its partners would be set up to build a Grade A office building just north of Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui area.
The compulsory sale would give Lofter and its partners an opportunity to consolidate the building with three adjacent properties which they already own to form a single 7,250 square foot (674 square metre site), with Lofter having said in December that it was planning to redevelop the four plots on Nanking Street into a 87,002 square foot (8,082 square metre) commercial project.
With Lofter and friends estimating total investment in the project at more than HK$1.3 billion, the Jordan project adds to a string of Kowloon redevelopment efforts by the value-add specialist.
“The site is strategically located in (an) urban area and is only a minute’s walk from Jordan MTR station,” Lofter Group founder and chairperson Carol Chow told Mingtiandi. As no new commercial projects have been built in the district for more than 15 years, Chow believes that there is high demand for new Grade A buildings in the area.
The joint venture partners had last year acquired most of the ownership interest in the plots spanning from 11 to 21 Nanking Street for a price of HK$750 million,
Zoned for commercial use, the total purchase price of the project is expected to reach HK$830 million upon completion of the acquisitions of all land plots, the developer said in its December announcement, which would translate to a unit price of HK$9,540 per square foot of maximum floor area.
Given that the project is still in the planning stages, Lofter did not disclose the details of its intentions for the Nanking Street site — although CHFT Advisory and Appraisal senior director Alex Leung noted that the site could be used for a Ginza-style office block with a retail podium, or the developer could apply to update the land use permit to develop a composite residential and retail project on the site.
Asking rents for offices in the area currently average HK$30 per square foot per month, said Leung, adding that retail rents vary depending on the property’s location and scale.
Lofter’s core strategy is urban redevelopment, with the developer typically aggregating sites through strata-title purchases, Chow said in an earlier interview with Mingtiandi, noting that even with plots being offered through tenders by the government, the MTR Corporation and the Urban Renewal Authority, opportunities to acquire land in Hong Kong are scarce.
About two months ago, the developer and Singapore’s SC Capital Partners took a step towards building a HK$850 million residential and retail project in Hong Kong, having applied for the compulsory sale of a 4,000 square foot site on Ap Lei Chau Island valued at HK$145 million.
Lofter’s latest acquisition comes as analysts are expecting a 20 percent year-on-year increase in the number of compulsory sale applications in 2022, due to the relaxation of social distancing restrictions in May, as well as a gradual economic recovery that has given greater confidence to developers.
Among Lofter’s partners in this acquisition, the developer is teaming up with a familiar face, having just last year teamed with Alphalex Capital Management to unify a site at 1-15 Ki Lung Street in the Prince Edward area for development of a HK$1.1 billion mixed-use project
That acquisition took place about four months after the partners had agreed to acquire the properties at 1-7 Ki Lung Street from Hong Kong’s “Shop King” Tang Shing-bor for HK$347 million in November 2020.