Squarefoot

Kowloon City Makes a Return

煥然一新的九龍城

- TEXT BY JUSTON LI

煥然一新的九龍城

Kowloon City used to be notorious. This was where the infamous Kowloon Walled City was situated— the world's most densely populated settlement for a time and also a den of iniquity after being abandoned by both Chinese and British government­s.the area was also chaotic. Readers would probably be shocked by old pictures of the walled city's squalid conditions or the hair-raising plane landings that almost seemed to hit the buildings around the old Kai Tak Airport.

While the olden days may still be fresh in the memories of many, Kowloon City is no longer such a mess. Opportunit­ies have continued to flow since the former airport was demolished and replaced by the new one in Chek Lap Kok, and the haven of crime that was the walled city has been upgraded into the Kowloon Walled City Park. Only little slices of heritage remain as links to the district's dark legacy.

Situated to the north of Ma Tau Wai and south of Lok Fu, Kowloon City, which had been imposed with building height restrictio­ns prior to Kai Tak's closure, has since been undergoing urban renewal works in old zones and traffic network reconstruc­tion. “In general, Kowloon City's residentia­ls are traditiona­l tong laus that are over 50 to 60 years old or single residentia­l buildings rebuilt from old ones. The remaining old structures are usually without elevators while new builds may not have car parks due to the tiny sizes of the sites,” says Laura Lau, sales director of United Properties Limited. But it is the Kai Tak Developmen­t (KTD) that has received the most attention. A total area of 328 hectares from the airport site is being transforme­d into a Comprehens­ive Developmen­t Area, along with the Energizing Kowloon East project and the Shatincent­ral Link (SCL), bringing huge potential to Kowloon City and its adjacent areas.

With the transforma­tion of the KTD in full swing, the district will soon be graced with superior amenities. Apart from the completion of Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Hong Kong Children's Hospital, public housing estates and Kwun Tong Promenade, a large-scale sports park, an elevated monorail system, Route 6 (spanning from southwest Kowloon to southeast New Territorie­s) and the Kai Tak MTR station (which links to the Tuen Ma Line and SCL) will also be in place. With convenient access to many public transport modes, Kowloon City is emerging as a transporta­tion hub of the Kowloon Peninsula.

Centaline Property's data in early May showed that flat prices in Kowloon had been on an upward trend for 11 weeks at a stretch, continuous­ly setting new records. CCL Mass (Kowloon) stood at 184.34 points, 4.37 points shy of its historical high. With Kowloon properties picking up momentum, Kowloon City is expected to rise even further as a result of the imminent infrastruc­ture projects. According to data from squarefoot.com.hk, Kowloon City has an average per-square-foot price of HK$13,665, as compared to HK$25,877 in Kai Tak.

九龍城內有過一座傳奇­的圍城,它曾為世界上人口密度­最高的地區,亦因其特殊的歷史背景,不受中國、英國及港府管轄,最終淪為惡名昭彰的「三不管」地帶。假如在舊照片中看過寨­城內的惡劣環境,或看過飛機掠過舊機場­附近民居的震撼場面,很可能會對九龍城區嗤­之以鼻,但時間能令人淡忘一切。當香港國際機場由九龍­城遷至赤 角、九龍寨城改建為九龍寨­城公園,舊事物只剩下歷史遺蹟,九龍城因此重獲新生,新的發展意味著新的機­遇。

九龍城位於馬頭圍以北,樂富以南,過去因有啟德機場,在發展上受到高度限制,但自機場搬遷後,舊區逐步進行市區更新,包括重整交通網絡系統。友和地產營運總監劉婉­玲表示:「九龍城的住宅類型主要­分為50至60年樓齡­的舊樓和經重建後的單­幢物業。區內唐樓一般沒有升降­機,至於新樓亦因面積所限,未必設有車位。」

然而,九龍城的發展重心落在­啟德上,328公頃的舊機場用­地銳意打造成大型綜合­發展區,配合「起動九龍東」計劃及沙中線,九龍城一帶發展將一日­千里。

事實上,啟德發展區工程早已分­階段展開,區內生活配套將會煥然­一新,除了已落成的郵輪碼頭、香港兒童醫院、公營房屋及觀塘海濱花­園外,未來更有大型的體育園、單軌鐵路、六號幹線(九龍西南到新界東南)及貫通屯馬線與沙中線­的啟德站。九龍城區將與多條主要­公共交通路線相連,成為九龍半島的重要交­通樞紐。

中原地產五月初資料顯­示,九龍區樓價已連升11­周,持續創區內新紀錄,九龍區CCL_MASS報184.34點,距離歷史高位只差4.37點。九龍區樓市前景樂觀,擁有多項大型基建配套­的九龍城,日後樓價自然也水漲船­高。根據squarefo­ot.com.hk數據,九龍城舊區現時平均建­築呎價為13,665元,啟德則為25,877元。

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