Old-style romance

Updated: 2015-03-13 07:18

By Agnes Lu(China Daily USA)

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Old-style romance

Victoria Allan, founder of Habitat Property, rejuvenated the iconic Tung Fat Building but kept its original black terrazzo nameplate and gave it a New York loft-style makeover, with larger windows offering panoramic sea views, and color and material synergy creating a sense of tranquil harmony in the eight apartments across as many stories. [Provided to China Daily]

Game for more

The ground-floor mechanic's workshop now houses a Mexican-style fusion restaurant. Eight apartments, one on each floor, were all rented out within less than three months since being launched last December. Only rentals are offered currently.

Around HK$60 million in total, divided nearly equally between purchase and renovation costs, was spent on converting the building.

It took nine long years for the project to officially hit the market, well over Allan's initial estimate of three to five years. However, she observed the lack of such specially designed buildings nine years ago, and still thinks the same way.

"Bringing more unique products and more quirky conversions to the market is what a small developer would do to differentiate themselves. There was a gap for such kind of ideas and I still see it today," she said.

But such opportunities are dwindling, and it requires a keen nose to be able to sniff out redevelopment potential. Allan mentioned Chai Wan, North Point and Tin Hau as possible destinations for similar conversion projects, where old buildings, colorful neighborhoods and fine Western-style eateries cozily co-exist.

"I think certain kinds of plot ratio bonus or taxation benefits can be implemented for more developers to revitalize old buildings," said Allan. "But (they should restore) them properly, including finding the right interior design, instead of just keeping the faade."

Although the time spent on acquiring the building and renovating it was much longer than expected, Allan will not hesitate to plunge right in if a similar project presents itself. She said: "If I find somewhere with the same charm I'll do it again."

Contact the writer at agnes@chinadailyhk.com