Tuesday, 25 April 2017

At the Mercy of Landlords

This hotel has a good location, so why does it need to be knocked down?
A property investment company that owns a hotel in Causeway Bay wants to tear it down and turn it into an office building.

SEA Holdings, a publicly-listed company, recently applied to the Town Planning Board to demolish the 29-storey hotel and turn it into a 22-storey office tower with restaurants and shops.

Why? Because it is more profitable to rent out space on a monthly basis than hire staff to look after hotel rooms and guests, and try to fill them on a daily basis.

Remember the Ritz-Carlton and the Furama in Central?
What's also contentious is that the hotel, the Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay is only eight years old so knocking it down would not only mean more waste in our landfills, but more importantly less rooms for visitors to stay in.

In Central there used to be a handful of hotels like the Hilton, Furama, and Ritz-Carlton; now it's only the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and the Landmark Mandarin Oriental.

How can the Hong Kong Tourism Board lure more visitors to the city if more hotels get torn down?

But it seems like there is actually a glut in the market when it comes to hotel rooms in Hong Kong -- many low to mid-range ones are struggling to be able to charge HK$1,000 a night.

The Murray Building will be turned into a hotel by 2018
For example Ibis Hong Kong in Sheung Wan,  charges just under HK$1,000 a night on weekends, but come weekdays, it's just over HK$600 a night.

One critic of the plans to knock down the Crowne Plaza says property developers don't lose a night's sleep squeezing as much as they can out of us, neither do landlords who double our rents -- they think someone else will take it.

That's why these people are called psychopaths.

But in the meantime, The Murray Building in Central used to be an office building and is now being refurbished into a hotel by keeping the outer shell intact.

Quick fixes aren't what we need in Hong Kong. We need a more visonary, steady approach to development. Knocking down an eight-year-old building is not the way to go.

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