New World Development Co., one of Hong Kong’s largest home builders, will donate 3 million square feet of land to help with the city’s housing crisis.
The move comes as developers in the former British colony have been widely criticized by Beijing for helping to push home prices to unaffordable levels. Protests that have rocked Hong Kong for months now are in part fueled by anger over sky-high property prices.
New World will donate the plots, about the size of Grand Central Station in New York, from its farm landbank, Adrian Cheng, executive vice-chairman, said at the company’s post-earnings media briefing Wednesday. It’s already leased 28,000 square feet for HKD1 ($0.13) to Light Be (Social Realty) Co. until 2047 and intends to grant an additional 1 million square feet to the social enterprise, which provides affordable housing for the underprivileged, the company said.
Cheng also said New World is open to giving some of the land for free to the government to use for public housing. Authorities have no mechanism in place currently for such a transfer but if one were introduced, “we can donate it and support their development of public housing, addressing social need,” he said.
New World has 16.9 million square feet of farmland, company filings show, so the donation would total almost 20% of that.
The project with Light Be will provide more than 100 affordable apartments and is expected to be completed in 2022, subject to the time required for land-use conversion. The units will be offered to low-income families with children at discounted rents. New World may contribute to some of the construction costs and help build the apartments, it said. MDT/Bloomberg