Tycoon donates land for cheap homes

Tycoon donates land for cheap homes

Hong Kong's second-richest man Lee Shau Kee is donating a parcel of land to build affordable housing for first-time home buyers - the first such act of philanthropy in the city.

The quid pro quo: The government has to waive the land premium to convert the land - currently zoned for farm use - to residential use.

The sum could amount to hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars, based on the difference between prevailing prices for the two types of land.

Officials are mulling over his offer, said Mr Lee, 85, chairman of Henderson Land Development, on Monday.

The land, which measures over 100,000 sq ft, is in Fanling in the New Territories, and has a market value of between HK$200 million (S$33 million) and HK$300 million, said the tycoon.

It can yield over 1,000 flats of 300 sq ft each, priced at HK$1 million - the cost of construction, at HK$3,000 per square foot.

This is half the current market rate for flats in the area, said property surveyor Vincent Cheung of real estate broker Cushman and Wakefield.

Mr Lee's proposal is an astute public relations move in the city, where the Hong Kong dream has always been anchored by property ownership. But that has floated out of the reach of many, given record prices in recent years.

This, plus a widening income gap, is fuelling growing resentment against the property barons.

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