Kowloon East (KE) is an area comprising the former Kai Tak Airport, Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay Business Areas. This area witnessed the rapid growth of an important industrial base in the heyday of Hong Kong's manufacturing industries, creating some hundred thousands of jobs and propelling Hong Kong's prosperity. Following relocation of the Airport to Chek Lap Kok and our manufacturing base to the Mainland, this area has lost some of its past vibrancy, leaving a huge stock of industrial buildings not being fully utilized. On the other hand, with the booming in Hong Kong's financial and service sectors as well as large numbers of regional headquarters and regional offices of multi-national companies setting their foot in Hong Kong, the demand for quality office space can no longer be met by our traditional Central Business District (CBD). Thanks to good market sense and first-mover initiatives of some private developers, high grade office building and retail centres are emerging in KE. About 2.4 million m2 commercial/office space have been completed.
The National 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans have given support to Hong Kong's status as an international centre for financial services, trade and shipping, strengthening its global influence as a financial centre. To capitalize on the fast-growing opportunities of the Mainland and sustain Hong Kong's position and longer term development, a steady and adequate supply of quality office space is pivotal.
In the 2011-12 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced the adoption of a visionary, coordinated and integrated approach to transform Kowloon East into an additional attractive CBD to sustain Hong Kong’s economic development. This initiative was reiterated in the subsequent Policy Addresses. Specifically, this involves land use review, enhanced urban design, and improvement to connectivity and the associated infrastructure.
All industrial land in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay was rezoned to "Business" use in 2001, which would allow conversion of industrial premises to office use and redevelopment of industrial buildings for office and commercial uses. In April 2010, the Government introduced measures to revitalize industrial buildings in Hong Kong. By end December 2016, 83 applications have been approved and executed for wholesale conversion or redevelopment and 42 of them are in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay. These industrial buildings will be redeveloped or converted into offices, shops and services, and hotels.
About 2 million m2 of commercial/office space has been planned for within the 320 hectare Kai Tak Development (KTD). Other than the completed Trade and Industry Tower, the government offices in Inland Revenue Tower, Wan Chai will also be relocated to Kai Tak. With some 49,900 public and private housing units, an international cruise terminal, sports and tourism facilities, KTD will inject new developments, vibrancy and diversity into the area. Together with 168 hectares in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay Business Areas, KE has great potential to evolve into a vibrant premier business district in Hong Kong.