Nam Cheong project attracts 12 builders

HONG KONG: The MTR Corp's HK$33 billion (RM13.6 billion) Nam Cheong Station project has attracted interest from 12  developers - four more than when it was first launched five years ago.

In 2005, when the KCRC was managing the project in Sham Shui Po, eight developers expressed an interest before  the residential development was shelved due to concerns of green groups that the 20 high-rise towers would cause  a wall effect.

The railway operator has since modified the design and lowered the density of the development on top of Nam  Cheong Station, close to the Fu Cheong and Nam Cheong public housing estates.

The 6.2-hectare site will now house nine seven- to nine-storey low-rise blocks and nine 42- to 46-storey high- rise residential towers, plus a 287,732-square-foot shopping centre. The project will provide 3,300 flats with a  total residential floor area of 2.96 million square feet and is due for completion in 2016.

All the major developers, such as Cheung Kong (Holdings), Sun Hung Kai Properties, Sino Land, Kerry Properties ,  Henderson Land, and Nam Fung Development were among the 12 to express interest yesterday. MTR is currently  negotiating the land premium with the government and will put the project up for tender in the near future, a  spokesman said.

Even though there has been a better response this time it does not mean the developers are more optimistic about  the property market's outlook, according to analysts.

Alnwick Chan Chi-hing, executive director at Knight Frank, said only a few of the developers could afford the  large investment cost and he expects only four of them to eventually join the tendering process.

"But it does present an opportunity for the developers to get the inside information on land premiums if they  submit expressions of interest. It can also show the MTR that you are still a market player," Chan said.

According to the transaction data of Centaline Property Agency, prices at the seven-year-old Metro Harbour View  in the area range between HK$4,964 and HK$5,137 per square foot.

A further indication on the state of the property market will be available over the next three months when the  Lands Department sells four development sites in Fanling, Tung Chung, Ho Man Tin and The Peak.

The two residential sites at Mount Nicholson Road on The Peak and Fat Kwong Street in Ho Man Tin are expected to  be major targets as they offer an opportunity for luxury residential projects.

Chan said Nam Cheong Station was still competitive, being a mass residential project on top of an MTR station,  although he did not believe the developers would be submitting aggressive offers for it or any of the other  sites due to the uncertain market outlook.

"The latest housing policies show the government is paying special attention to the property market. The  government may release new measures to curb the growth in property prices." he said. - South China Morning Post
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