Regenerating Kowloon East
In the heyday of Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry in the 1960s, Kwun Tong and the areas around Kowloon Bay and the old Kai Tak Airport provided work for hundreds of thousands.
But with the relocation of the airport to Chek Lap Kok, and the migration of production to the mainland, many industrial buildings fell silent.
But, pushed by government policy and pulled by the city’s changing economic needs, Kowloon East (KE) is now being transformed. Beyond the creation of landmark infrastructure, and commercial demand for new office space, the opening of the Dorsett Regency Kwun Tong and L’hotel elan is a clear sign of regeneration.
“Hotel development in KE has multiple purposes,” says Traley Chau, senior information officer with the Development Bureau. “It signifies transformation of the area through redevelopment of industrial sites. It is also key tourism infrastructure, serving local and oversees business people and visitors, and it enhances vibrancy, particularly after office hours.
“Development of high-grade hotels, in particular, would serve the needs of the evolving CBD and contribute to its branding, as well as boosting its potential in terms of entertainment and tourism.”
Picking up on proposals in then chief executive Donald Tsang’s 2011-12 Policy Address to turn KE into an attractive alternative CBD, the Development Bureau’s Energising Kowloon East initiative aims to create “a place where people would like to work, to do business, to walk, to stay, and to play”, according to Chau.
The initiative plans to: steer the improvement of transport links to, and within, KE; help create a pedestrian-friendly and green environment; promote quality urban design and innovative architecture; and encourage schemes to bring people to the waterfront.
Public-works projects should largely be finished by 2022. Undertakings such as building public rental housing and an international cruise terminal at Kai Tak, plus a waterfront promenade in Kwun Tong, are underway. Chau sees this embracing everything from artistic and cultural performances to marinas and water sports..