Luxury property used to be easily identified by price. With new properties regularly launching at $8 million these days — luxury was previously pegged at $10 million and above — the idea of luxury is shifting, as is the idea of where luxury can be found. Real estate is increasingly being judged on a property-by-property basis, and as a result, some previously non-existent luxury players are getting into the game.
North Point has a rich immigration and wartime history and therefore has been a hotbed of social and economic activity for decades. At one time referred to as Little Shanghai due to the influx of refugees and merchants from the Mainland that set up shop in the district, the area remains a densely populated, bustling one with a little of everything.
Though North Point is home to the city’s oldest public housing estate, the last few decades have seen the area transform a good deal. The public housing is still there, plenty of massive private housing estates have moved in, and hotels (Ibis, Harbour Plaza) and serviced residences (Shama, the forthcoming Somerset) are slowly but surely becoming entrenched.
More than anything, it’s become clear a relatively cosmopolitan section of the city is becoming more so, judging from the retailers and food and beverage outlets moving in. Just a few years ago there were scant Italian, French or Indian restaurants around, and the only burgers came from McDonald’s. Supermarkets were of the standard variety to complement the local markets, and brie, gorgonzola and tortilla shells did not grace their shelves. The arrival of Marketplace by Jasons and the overhaul area of PARKnSHOP stores have remedied that. But North Point’s excellent connectivity to the rest of the city and its close proximity to the cluster of office towers at Taikoo Place — and rising prices in other districts of course — have changed the face of the residential demographic. As could be expected, developers have taken note and have started offering a very different type of residence.
For All Tastes
According to Centaline, prices in various North Point properties are currently sitting anywhere between approximately $8,000 per square foot (gross) in City Garden to $16,000 at Le Sommet. Regardless of where the buildings are located they share one trait: prices are trending upwards. Whether new developments are driving the increase or developers are seeing new value in North Point is anybody’s guess, but either way a few years ago the idea of a high-end tower in the area was hard to fathom. That’s no longer the case.
Swire Properties may not have been the first to wade into premium residential property when it launched its Mount Parker Residences but it’s arguably the most high profile. The first wave of flats at Mount Parker hit the market March 2014, they ranged between roughly $21,000 and $28,000 per saleable square foot. In January those averages had crept up to $23,000 to $30,000.
Admittedly, Mount Parker Residences are a little east of North Point proper, on Sai Wan Terrace in Quarry Bay. But the development signals a reconsideration of Island East as an upscale market. Designed by international architecture firm Arquitectonica and boasting a unique curvilinear design that stands out in the area, Mount Parker Residences are essentially a Mid-Levels structure in the east end. Comprising three- to five-bedroom flats, the properties are also defined by what is considered luxury now: space. The smallest unit in the building is 1,242 square feet.
Back in North Point, The Pavilia Hill by New World Development and Henderson Land’s The Hemispheres are set to raise the district’s profile. The Pavilia Hill’s selling point as NWD sees it is its Zen design that complements and is complemented by the surrounding greenery. Located at 18 Tin Hau Temple Road, it’s across from Victoria Park and backs up onto the surrounding hills. The development will feature landscape design by Shunmyo Masuno, whose work includes Nassim Park Residences in Singapore. Interiors come courtesy of Koichiro Ikebuchi, whose signature simplicity can be seen in The Westminster Terrace. Pavilia Hill is actually a series of five towers, each with “refuge floors” that provide a spa-like retreat for residents. Properties range between 596 and 3,751 square feet and are currently running roughly $25,000 to $47,000 per saleable square foot, up from $22,000 to $35,000 last September.
Rounding out the trio is The Hemispheres at 3 Gordon Road, near Electric Road. The oldest of the three projects, The Hemispheres launched at the tail end of 2013, when Hong Kong was still reeling from new stamp duties. The tower’s flats are sized at a more mainstream 280 to 883 saleable square feet, which doesn’t mean it won’t have a resident’s clubhouse and a roof garden. In November ’13 prices were set at approximately $23,000 to $37,000 per saleable square foot, and as of April they were stable at those same levels. The building is one of Henderson’s H Collection, which aims to put a lifestyle spin on the properties and this one is no different. Some of The Hemisphere’s amenities include indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a garden gym, barbeque space and balconies for each flat, a few minutes from a hip corner of Tin Hau and at the edge of the shopping area in Causeway Bay. For prospective buyers looking for a slightly more urban vibe, this could be the one. But one thing’s for sure: there will be more to come.