Abused Clubhouse Facilitates Turning Private Flats into Pseudo Luxurious Apartments Bulky Buildings with “Cake-shape” Podium Blocking Airflow
The Council for Sustainable Development will submit a report in review of the current GFA concession policy soon. It is expected that a series of control measures will be suggested for Development Bureau’s consideration. Since the government may grant up to an area equivalent to 5% of permissible GFA for covered clubhouse area, it forms a trend that the area of covered clubhouse is over 100,000ft2 for large private housing estates. The clubhouses are becoming bigger and more luxurious so that the whole estate can be imaged as “pseudo luxurious apartments”.
Green Sense has probed for 13 large private housing estates and is surprised to find that these white elephants include many superfluous facilities such as climbing wall, cigar smoking room, pet room, band room, skating board avenue, skiing room, bumper car avenue and banquet hall, etc. However, these facilities are by no means in free lunch: buyers have to pay more not only for their own flats (since the area of clubhouse is shared by GFA of each flat) but also for the management fee for maintenance of facilities. Yet, the environment is another loser as the podium becomes bulky for placement of the white elephant, which blocks the low level airflow while consuming huge amount of electricity for air-conditioning.
The residential / commercial development atop Nam Cheong Station, tenders for which to be returned on Tuesday, is one of the projects that Green Sense has fought for lowering of building density. It is anticipated that merely the covered portion of the clubhouse will be over 140,000ft2. In consideration of the glamorous clubhouse and the location of the development, the selling price shall reach $10,000 per square foot which is not affordable by the middle class and thus evidenced that the whole development is not for the sake of satisfying the general public’s demand for housing.
Mr. Roy Tam, president of Green Sense, criticized “We have been fighting for substantial lowering of development density of Nam Cheong Station for years as well as discussion with Secretary for Development, Ms. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. However, it is disappointing that the government only omitted two blocks of building so as to protect the treasury revenue. Worst still, the whole residential development is not built for our living – not even for the middle class but for investment and speculation sake. Residents of Fu Cheong Estate, whose flats are blocked by these walled buildings, sacrifice for nothing.”
He also supplement that there is a structural problem in the private housing market. The supply is tightened due to investment and speculation, particular through influx of hot money from Mainland. The result is burdening the whole Hong Kong citizens.
The ultra glamorous clubhouse also functions well for the upsurge of selling price for private housing estates and packaging as pseudo luxurious apartments. There is at least a separate booklet describing clubhouse facilities among recent sale brochures, in which the whole clubhouse is named as “palace” or “garden”. Since developers aim to fully utilize the 5% GFA concession and that uncovered area is non-GFA countable, clubhouse as a white elephant is born.
The revelation is that buyers will soon recognize that these clubhouse facilities are user-unfriendly after moving-in. Take Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung as an example, TV game room and the pub are closed so far (perhaps due to the license problem). The climbing wall seldom opens as a resident coach is required. There are ten pools in Ocean Shores but one of them was hired to a swimming club in a certain period of time. We also find that seldom do residents of Coastal Skyline use the band room either. All these superfluous clubhouse facilities only bring forth large amounts of management and maintenance fee for the owners. Ironically, the management companies are typically subsidiary of developer firms which gain extra profit again indirectly.
In response, Green Sense would make the following recommendations:
1. The government can no longer grant GFA concession for clubhouse unconditionally. Developers have to trade off with equivalent permissible GFA, i.e. in the ratio of 1:1 for any concession. In addition, total area of covered clubhouse shall not exceed by 3% of the total GFA so that the volume of podium will be reduced and hence less air-conditioning is required.
2. Heat island effect in Hong Kong, especially during summer, is already serious due to her scarcity of land resources which resulted in high density development. Unnecessary buildings shall not be erected anymore; private housing shall not be misused as investment or speculative tools. The government’s housing policy should aim at providing accommodations for local citizens. We suggest that all land lots provided by government including land auctions and those provided by MTRC and Urban Renewal Authority shall include the following provisions to ensure that the flats will not be sold:
i) to companies;
ii) to persons without holding a HKID card or not staying in Hong Kong;
iii) in more than one unit per person / couple.
We believe the structural problem of shortage of housing supply can be solved with implementation of the above three measures which aim to alienate investors and speculators.
Table of comparison for clubhouse information of 3 private housing estatesComments