SwireHong Kong developer Swire Properties is starting the year on an active note. With the real estate giant’s last headline generating property being the Frank Gehry-designed Opus on Stubbs Road, Swire is launching two more luxury residential developments this year.

“We are excited to introduce both residences to the luxury property market. Swire Properties has a long-standing tradition of creating prestigious residences in prime locations,” said Swire’s General Manager, Residential, Adrian To. “Dunbar Place and Mount Parker Residences reflect our pursuit of exceptional quality and a unique style of luxury.”

Designing for the Future
The first is Dunbar Place at 23 Dunbar Road in Ho Man Tin. Set for completion in the first half of 2014, the eponymously named Dunbar Place is a stone’s throw from Mongkok East MTR station, nestled in a relatively affluent pocket in the area. Perhaps best known for being a hive of prestigious education and leisure facilities, the Ho Man Tin location is among the most elite in Kowloon.

Dunbar Place’s architectural design comes courtesy of London-based Make Architects, an innovative studio well known for its sustainable design that’s been making a lot of noise in China and Hong Kong over the last couple of years. The 23-storey tower comprising 53 residences will range from approximately 1,500 to 2,300 square feet and incorporate what Swire refers to as “contemporary architectural ideals.”

Of those ideals, John Puttick, lead architect with Make in Beijing says, “Building sustainable, low energy buildings is very important to us and is something we try to achieve in every project, including Dunbar Place,” he begins. “One of the reasons we were able to achieve this is because we were involved in all design aspects of the building, from the interiors to the landscaping to the exterior façade.” Dunbar Place will be an exemplar of sustainable design that doesn’t necessarily demand the bells and whistles of that philosophy. The tower’s position and its aluminium façade will reduce solar gain and maximise natural light without heating it up and inspiring a rush to the A/C panel, a major factor in Hong Kong’s soupy summers.

“[Dunbar Place] is a fantastic project for us — partly because it’s our first [here], partly because we have a strong partnership of working with Swire and they are very designforward. The site is interesting, and allowed us to design something that would be very prominent and complementary to its location,” finishes Puttick.

A New East End Landmark
Second is Mount Parker Residences at 1 Sai Wan Terrace in Island East, also forecast to be ready in first half 2014. Swire is intensely familiar with Island East and is to the district what Hysan is to Causeway Bay. That stretch of the east end is dominated by Swire’s Taikoo Shing, the massive development that made Island East a viable option for middle class buyers when it was completed in 1986 and still is now. Not long after the residences went up, Taikoo Place and Cityplaza rounded out the location and made it into a major retail and office hub. It’s home to scads of multinationals looking for bigger, more reasonably priced office space. The icing on the cake and proof that Island East was its own brand came when EAST opened, the swanky lifestyle hotel.

Indeed perched on Mount Parker, the development comprises 92 flats in a 21-storey tower, which range from between 1,500 and 2,200 square feet. The units will boast direct lift access and this time the architects involved are American studio Arquitectonica, the designers behind Swire’s TaiKoo Hui in Guangzhou and Macau’s City of Dreams.

Lasting Influence?
“These two developments underline Swire Properties’ key business strategy of continuing to expand our signature luxury residential portfolio in Hong Kong,” said To. But how do a pair of traditionally middle class neighbourhoods incorporate a luxury development? “Honestly speaking, I don’t think either of these properties will have an impact on the surrounding areas,” theorises Ricky Poon, executive director for residential at Colliers International in Hong Kong. Dunbar Place is not in a “true luxury” district, according to Poon, which would include Kadoorie Avenue or Ho Man Tin Hill Road. Comparable recent transactions in Ho Man Tin recorded sales at $16,000 and $20,000 per square foot. Former Swire tower The Floridian, a stone’s throw from the future Mount Parker Residences, recorded units selling for approximately $18,000 per square foot — prices that flirt with luxury for sure. “All developers will call their projects ‘luxury’,” notes Poon, and a large unit in the Floridian will run around $10 million. “When you’re talking about lump sums, anything between $7 and 10 million is considered luxury residential.” Additionally, in the next two to three years very little in the way of new stock will come online in either district. A luxury boom that will push nearby property prices into the stratosphere seems unlikely.

Prices on both properties have not been set. Dunbar Place is scheduled for sales in the first half of 2013 while an estimated sales date for Mount Parker Residences has yet to be determined.