A Hong Kong megaproject could mean trillions

Kaizer Lau Ping-cheung, a former surveyor and lawmaker, says the 1,700 hectare Lantau land reclamation project proposed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is too small.

He claims the 1,700-hectare reclamation project off Lantau Island will break even within 20 years and could make trillions of dollars from the deal.

Those opposing Lam’s “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” believe the scheme will come at high environmental and economic costs – conservative estimates put the price tag at about HK$500 billion (US$63.8 billion), roughly half of the city’s fiscal reserves, while others put it closer to HK$1 trillion.

Lau said that based on potential land sales for residential development – assuming that one in every five square meters could be developed, sold at HK$10,000 per square foot and with a 70/30 split between public and private housing – plus commercial and industrial uses, about HK$1.6 trillion in land revenue could be generated.

GDP growth in the Greater Bay Area (Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities) will support an even larger project.

Lau proposes financing the project without spending public money by issuing bonds or putting the reclamation works up for public bidding.

Yeung Ha-chi, of land concern group Liber Research Community, warned that such partnerships were also prone to failure, and cited the examples of development areas such as Tin Shui Wai in the New Territories, and Ma Wan, near Tsing Yi.

West Kowloon [reclamation] project was supposed to ease the urban density of Yau Tsim Mong district, but it was used to build luxury estates.