A decade after it began acquiring parts of Hong Kong’s State Theatre complex, New World Development has won approval from the Buildings Department to redevelop the historic site into a mixed-use project.
The development in North Point will have a gross floor area of 35,790 square metres (385,240 square feet), including 18,726 square metres for residential and 17,064 square metres for commercial use, according to the Buildings Department’s Monthly Digest for May.
“The State Theatre will return as a new cultural performing arts landmark,” New World chief executive Adrian Cheng said in a statement last year. “With our conservation project, the State Theatre will return once again as a culture and arts landmark with more riveting stories to tell.”
New World took over the former cinema in October 2020 through a compulsory sale that valued the project at HK$4.8 billion (now $610 million), which was the highest assessment ever for a property purchased under Hong Kong’s rules for redeveloping ageing buildings.
New World’s project site comprises 277-291 King’s Road, 2-16 Tin Chong Street and 4-6D Java Road in eastern Hong Kong Island. Plans have been approved for two blocks of 27 and 19 storeys, four retail podium levels and three basement levels, according to the Monthly Digest.
In 2019, New World bought retail units 15, 16 and 17 at 277-291 King’s Road for HK$188 million, paying a 132 percent premium over a third-party valuation of the property, which would have valued the properties at HK$80.83 million. Following the 2020 compulsory sale, New World received the all-clear from building code inspectors that was finally granted in May of this year.
Originally known as the Empire Theatre when it opened in 1952, the property was rechristened as the State Theatre in 1959 and has long been an icon of Hong Kong popular culture.
Topped by a distinctive set of concrete arches and visible along the streetcar line that winds through the middle-class neighbourhood, the theatre featured in Bruce Lee’s 1978 film Game of Death, while Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng performed there in 1970.
New World has referred to the State Theatre redevelopment as the company’s first conservation project, stating that it “has a view to conserve relevant parts of the building”.
Surge of Approvals
The Buildings Department in May approved a total of 34 plans — the most since the end of 2011, online news portal HKET reported.
Other key developers receiving the green light for their plans included Li Ka-shing’s CK Asset, which got the nod for a residential project in Kai Tak, and Swire Properties, which can now move forward with its redevelopment of a disused bus depot in Chai Wan.
In February of last year, CK Asset won the final residential plot on the former airport runway, known as New Kowloon Inland Lot No.6604 at Kai Tak Area 4E Site 2, with a bid of HK$10.28 billion ($1.33 billion). The company has been approved to build residences with a gross floor area of 58,023 square metres across six 29-storey buildings, one 28-storey building and a six-storey building.
Swire had teamed up with China Motor Bus Company in 2018 to build a pair of 36- and 38-storey residential towers of up to 40,877 square metres on the site of the former bus depot at 391 Chai Wan Road in eastern Hong Kong Island. Under the revised plan, the developer has permission for a single 41-storey apartment building with a gross floor area of 24,361 square metres.