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 hundred of 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 1.95 million m2 commercial/office space have been completed.
The National 12th Five-Year Plan has given support to Hong Kong's position as an international financial, trade and shipping centre, and support for Hong Kong's development as an international asset management centre and an offshore Renminbi (RMB) business centre, increasing her impact on a global scale. 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 expedite the transformation of Kowloon East into an attractive, alternative CBD to support Hong Kong’s economic development. This initiative was reiterated in the 2013 and 2014 Policy Addresses. Specifically, this involves land use review, urban design, improved 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 June 2014, 88 applications have been approved for wholesale conversion or redevelopment and 35 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 1.70 million m2 of commercial/office space has been planned for within the 320 hectare Kai Tak Development (KTD). We are building a Kai Tak Government Office and are planning to relocate other government offices to Kai Tak. With some 41,000 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.