A prized commercial property site in Hong Kong, currently being used as a public car park, has been sold to Henderson Land Development for a record HK$23.3 billion ($3 billion). As Sonia Legg reports, it outbid eight other developers including local giants Cheung Kong Property Holdings and Sun Hung Kai Properties to take ownership of the site in the Central area, where office vacancy rates are less than 2 percent.
The buildings are sky high and so is their price. An auction has just confirmed Hong Kong's status as one of the world's most expensive property markets. The lot under offer was this - a multi-storey public car park. It's location among the headquarters of some of Asia's biggest businesses was the main attraction. The final price $3 billion dollars - that's $6,400 for every square foot. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HONG KONG CBRE LTD MANAGING DIRECTOR, TOM GAFFNEY, SAYING: "We have extremely low vacancy of around about 1.4 percent vacancy in the current market, a huge amount of demand from mainland firms coming into Hong Kong, setting up their offices here in Central, and as a result it will alleviate a lot of the pressure we're seeing built up in core central." All four of Hong Kong's main property developers were bidding. The eventual winner was Henderson Land, a firm founded by Hong Kong's second richest man Lee Shau-kee. It has offices in 14 mainland Chinese cities but no flagship skyscraper in Hong Kong - yet. (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG RESIDENT, ELLA WONG, SAYING: "Not many people park their cars there. So I'm hoping the developer will be able to turn it into something that can help the economy." It's the first time in two decades that a plot of land with this much commercial potential has come on the market in Hong Kong. And whoever ends up living or working there will have some wealthy neighbours. The buildings either side are owned by Hong's richest man Li Ka-shing.