Sai Ying Pun is the proud owner of one of Hong Kong’s newest MTR station. It was the last to the party at the end of 2014, finally opening its turnstiles (which no longer turn) in March. The buzz around Sai Ying Pun has dimmed a tiny bit since the Island Line extension was announced years ago and then finished. Nonetheless, it’s officially in the big leagues now, and like North Point, Sai Ying Pun is taking a turn for the upscale — if not on as large a scale or as fast.
No Longer Sleepy
“The area still has a more middle-class feel about it, and because of that people are looking to buy or rent here because it’s ‘island’ without the prices,” says a local independent property agent who wished to remain anonymous. “But that could change as more and more people move west looking for better rents. Sai Ying Pun going over to Shek Tong Tsui also still has a number of low-rise walk-ups that are a bit bigger than new flats. It’s still kind of low-key. Who knows how long those will last though.”
Sai Ying Pun is also blessed by being on the border of Sheung Wan — where prices are still climbing, although at a more moderate pace — and so is on the receiving end of Sheung Wan’s hip cachet. “I get a lot of renters looking in Sheung Wan and then opting for a flat two blocks down the street, technically in Sai Ying Pun. Officially it may be another district but in practise it’s like the suburbs of Sheung Wan, and they like that. The businesses — like bars and restaurants — are starting to follow too,” says the agent. A rash of cool watering holes (Ping Pong, Craft Brew & Company) have opened lately, to go along with equally chic eateries (pancake house Stack, vegetarian diner Grassroots). He admits it’s not quite Lan Kwai Fong yet, but notes, “It was only about five or 10 years ago Sheung Wan had nothing. It will happen.”
Even though Sai Ying Pun has held on to its more relaxed vibe (kind of like Kennedy Town) the neighbourhood is indeed seeing something of a transformation already. A few years back, that neutral zone on Queen’s Road leading into Sheung Wan, welcomed Soho 189, an upscale apartment tower by Kerry Properties, complete with facilities like a swimming pool, sauna, clubhouse and where upper floor flats have recently sold for as much as $50 million. That’s actually not surprising, given that Sai Ying Pun stretches south towards Mid-Levels, and the streets and lanes winding up the hill from Queen’s — Bonham Road, Pok Fu Lam Road, High Street — are already home to prestige addresses. “That’s true,” agrees the agent, “But the time is coming when the main streets going towards the harbour are going to be developed at the high end.”
Glamming it Up
Two of the most prominent developments right now are Henderson Land’s HighWest, part of its H Collection, and Wheelock Properties’ Kensington Hill. Located at 36 Clarence Terrace, HighWest is closer to HKU station, but still just a few minutes from the hip corners of Sai Ying Pun, and perhaps most appealing for some buyers, situated in one of the city’s best school networks — which includes King’s College, St Paul’s, St Stephen’s, Sacred Heart Canossian, Kau Yan and German Swiss International among others.
But HighWest, like all the H Collection developments, is also about lifestyle. The 30-storey tower (with a total of 133 flats) is glass-heavy, with a modern “urban aesthetic” and a bronze, white and grey colour scheme to highlight the contemporary architecture. Each property features a balcony and the common amenities include a barbeque area, gym, and podium garden, and flats are outfitted with fittings and appliances by Siemens, Smeg, Miele, Scarabeo, Kohler, Zucchetti and KDK. The building also includes a Carrot-based smart home automation system in each unit. HighWest flat sizes range from 293 to 862 saleable square feet. Listed prices are currently running in the neighbourhood of $27,000 to $38,000 per square foot.
Down the street at 98 High Street, Kensington Hill — blessed with the same prestigious school network — prides itself on its cultural heritage, boutiques and antique dealers and art galleries, all giving the address a bohemian-chic cachet. Interior design by Munge Leung (Suites at Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, Thompson Hotel, Seattle) aims to give the 32-storey property a, “refined sophistication where modern luxury and timeless elegance take centre stage,” with hotel-level luxury. Kensington Hill’s properties are also smart enabled, and the address will feature a concierge service and fully equipped clubhouse: gym, barbeque terrace, swimming pool, reading room and function room. The 75 units are sized between 532 and 2,277 saleable square feet and as of early May, prices at Kensington Hill ranged between $20,000 and $47,000 per square foot.