Why Invest in Wong Chuk Hang?
The opening of the Wong Chuk Hang MTR station is accelerating the transformation of the south side of Hong Kong Island into a new commercial and retail hub and luxury residential area that offers impressive long-term investment prospects.
Wong Chuk Hang is now a far cry from its industrial roots. The opening of the Wong Chuk Hang MTR station is accelerating the transformation of the south side of Hong Kong Island into a new commercial and retail hub and luxury residential area.
"The area has completely changed. Many new office buildings have launched and are up for lease. It's hard to find any single bloc buildings for sale because they are being held as long-term investments by owners who recognise the area's potential," says Cynthia Li, a Regional Director with JLL's Hong Kong Capital Markets team.
From an investment perspective, Wong Chuk Hang has many advantages. It is just 15 minutes from Central on the new MTR South Island Line. Cheaper rents are also pulling companies in from the established business districts of Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Quarry Bay.
"These spaces are attractive for insurance companies and banks looking for back offices, as they provide rare opportunities to secure a whole block and the associated naming rights"
Most office blocks in the area are around 20 storeys on 10,000 sq ft sites that deliver floor plates of a few thousand square feet, making them easy to manage and extremely leasable.
"Medium-sized advertising, trading and technology companies can easily take up a whole floor," says Li. "These spaces are also attractive for insurance companies and banks looking for back offices, as they provide rare opportunities to secure a whole block and the associated naming rights."
Wong Chuk Hang appeals to strata-title investors, who are looking for smaller-sized units for use as workshops, or to those who plan to lease out their property and gain returns on investment over the longer term. But it is en-bloc investors who should really take note.
"You can hardly own a single bloc of office towers on Hong Kong Island, especially for such an affordable sum for both local and institutional investors," observes Li. "That's why the market response for properties in Wong Chuk Hang is so good."
The recent sale of the former Zung Fu Aberdeen Garage at 36 Wong Chuk Hang Road for HKD 1.56 billion is just one reflection of investors' confidence in the area.
The Island South district will soon boast a large luxury residential area that will drive huge demand for office and retail space. February's sale of 126,595 sq ft of residential land in neighbouring Ap Lei Chau for a record HKD 16.86 billion underscores that these two South Side areas are rapidly moving upmarket. A joint venture between two mainland Chinese developers, Unicorn Bay (Hong Kong) Investments Ltd., is expected to turn the site into a combination of luxury houses and 4-6 apartment blocks that will come onto the primary market with a price tag in excess of HKD 38,000 per sq ft.
By the end of February, 14 developers—an all-time high—submitted bids in a tender for a 576,950 sq ft plot of MTR Corporation land next to Wong Chuk Hang station. This residential site—estimated to be worth HKD8 billion to 9.8 billion—is poised to fetch a price at the upper end of the spectrum in the wake of the Ap Lei Chau land sale that boosted market sentiment.
"Wong Chuk Hang will be turned into a mini Quarry Bay. It's a small community, but with all the amenities, including a hospital, parks and two hotels," Li points out.
"Its industrial buildings are fading out and will be converted into either hotels or offices. That includes 36 Wong Chuk Hang Road, which can be converted into offices through a lease modification," says Li.
"Even if you don't change your industrial building into offices, you can always convert them for retail use as restaurants and shops," she adds. "If you invest now, and look at it as a long-term prospect, it is a good area. In the long term it will be more attractive than Quarry Bay."