Residential developments: The Capitol


Yesterday, for various reasons, I attended one of those pre-construction presentations where a property developer tries to convince you to pre-buy a flat in an upcoming development. This development was a Lohas Park, over in Tseung Kwan O.

The brochures actually looked promising: it's an attempt at a pretty green development on the southern spur from the Tseung Kwan O line. Flat sizes range from 650-odd square feet to 1165 sq.ft. These sizes are probably lower-middle to middle-middle class in Hong Kong terms. The 1165 unit was interesting to us as we currently live in 1120sq.ft, which suits us fine.

(Note: HK flat sizes are specified as Gross Floor Area (GFA), which includes an allowance for the common areas, such as the entrance ways, lift lobbies, etc. Generally, they like to claim a utilisation of 75% or so, which means that you're getting 75% of what you paid for. In places with actual competition laws, property developers would have to tell you the actual size. In HK, you put up *AND* shut up.)

Once into the presentation itself (after queueing for more than an hour or two), we were treated to some aspirational video telling us that our new neighbours will all be very attractive Westerners with hobbies like lounging around the pool, shopping, being massaged and having western servants. This seemed a bit out of odds with the crowd actually gathered to view these presentations, but I guess the main point was: "Your neighbours won't really be the obnoxious market stall holders who are elbowing you in the ribs right now, and who smell of durian and don't understand the concept of standing in line."

(The man who smelled like sweaty durian was standing directly behind us and kept saying things like "Why can't I go in front of the gweilo? They never buy anyway, he's just here to look.")

Once past the aspirational videos, we were treated to displays of how glorious the clubhouse, sorry -- Premier Club Spa -- would be, and how wonderful the vaguely Germanic stock photo people would be when shopping. (A HK shopping mall full of blonde hair? Seriously?)

Then, we finally got to see the mockups of the biggest of the potential flats as recreated in a Jordan showroom. Despite the fact that the developer could have made the show flats bigger than reality, despite the fact the the show flats had no internal doors, despite the fact that there were no internal doorways just huge gaping openings, despite the fact that this was all marketing material, the show flats appeared to be far smaller than advertised.

We looked at the largest one first. 1165 square feet. Officially, about the same net size as our current flat. (We have a huge living/dining room, and three fairly large bedrooms, one of which is my office and the kids playroom.) It was tiny. They couldn't even get four bedrooms (as advertised) in the mockup -- they had to make two rooms into one just to *fit* a double bed in the master bedroom, and there was no storage. The two child rooms only worked because they had half of the beds into the bay windows.

In terms of actual usable living room, it looked like less than 600 sq.ft. My cousin's public housing flat in Shek Kip Mei looked more appealing.

The smaller flat, of 900sq.ft. was one of the worst laid out flats I've ever seen.

We came away from the whole travesty with the realisation that, for us to even think about living there, we'd have to buy two flats and knock them into one.

We may still buy a unit there, but purely for investment purposes. We'll continue to live in human sized older units over here on Hong Kong Island, not whatever shoeboxes Li Ka Shing thinks he can convince HongKongers in 400sq.ft. public housing to buy.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on February 23, 2008 9:04 PM.

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