Even though thousands of people live there, Kennedy Town still flies under the radar for some reason. Sitting at the end of the tram line and out of reach of the MTR — at least until recently — the district rarely gets the respect it deserves. Increasingly upmarket and with some of Hong Kong’s best leisure facilities (the relatively new Kennedy Town pool is a stunner) and mostly low-key streets, the relaxed retro vibe stems directly from the districts heretofore isolation. Things are going to change when the MTR opens but for now, Kennedy Town is something of a hidden gem.
The New Kid
It’s not without developments that flirt with luxury. The Belchers, The Merton and Manhattan Heights started the trend of moving west, and with rents and prices in Mid-Levels forcing buyers and renters first to Sheung Wan then to Kennedy Town, developers have put more stock in the area. But serviced apartments are still on the scarce side with Manhattan Heights and S-Residence about it.
Tucked away on Sands Street just a few steps from the tram line, is Skyla, the first development by Thousand World Limited (leased and managed by Jones Lang LaSalle). The boutique tower comprises 34 studio flats (about 600 gross square feet) and eight one-bedroom duplex suites (approximately 1,200 gross). Skyla opened in April and promptly leased 20 percent of its units, hinting that demand for Kennedy Town does indeed exist.
“We anticipate enthusiastic response from the market … due to the increasing demand for luxury serviced apartments amongst young executives and expatriates,” said Mandy Wong, national director for residential leasing with JLL.
Kennedy Town is heating up because of its relatively reasonable prices. The district may be “far away”, but that’s a fluid concept in a city where people are loathe to take a seven-minute ride across the harbour. Kennedy Town is every bit as decked out as any other part of Hong Kong. Within minutes of Skyla are banks, grocers, restaurants (with more moving in every day), and boutique retailers and swanky lounges are likely not far behind.
Skyla does have the veneer of luxury — walk-in closets, wood decking terraces and balconies, L’Occitane toiletries—but is one of the few recent developments of its kind that is not overdesigned. The main lobby is notable for its neutral tones and sparse decor. The suites themselves are breezy, open concept designs with plenty of glass, stainless steel and marble to complement textured furniture and linens. There are no jangly chandeliers, no ostentatious patterns. Skyla is a lifestyle property and in the duplex units the bedrooms have a decidedly loft vibe to them. Distinctly contemporary and located in a out of the way corner, it’s the kind of residence that Mid-Levels was rife with until it filled up, and that Island South charges much higher rents for.
Apartments are equipped with the amenities expected of a property like it: 3D LED television units, 3D Blu-ray players, appliances by Smeg and the requisite 24-hour security, complimentary WiFi and full housekeeping services. As Thousand World co-directors Judy Ng and James Wong describe it, they simply wanted to design residences that they themselves would like to live in. The property’s facilities include an on-site gym (in case you don’t feel like a swim down the road), a garden terrace with barbeque pit and a Sky Garden Playroom. Monthly rental rates at Skyla start at $19,500 for studios and $56,000 for duplexes on one-year leases.