A consortium led by a Hong Kong media tycoon yesterday announced plans for the Taipei Twin Towers development project, which would involve digital features blended with physical commercial spaces if it wins the contract.“Taipei has not seen eye-catching buildings for quite a while, not since the construction of Taipei 101, but we aim to rescue the city from the architectural doldrums with the Taipei City One project,” Hong Kong-based Nan Hai Corp chairman Yu Pun-hoi told a media briefing in Taipei.
Nan Hai is a holding company primarily engaged with businesses in China, Hong Kong, North America, Europe and Australia that are involved in the culture and media sectors, property development and IT application services.
The firm has teamed up with Malaysian property developer Pavilion Group to compete against a local consortium — computer maker Clevo Co and affiliate Hongwell Group — to win a multibillion-dollar development project near Taipei Railway Station.
The city government is to announce the winner later this month after being unsuccessful in auctioning off the contract over the past 20 years.
The Nan Hai-Pavilion team aims to build two towers — one 65 stories and the other 53 stories — that would house retail stores on their lower floors, office spaces on the middle floors and hotel rooms on the upper floors, Yu said.
The Taipei City One project presents a real-estate development opportunity as well as a venue for launching an “online merge offline” business model — persuading consumers within a physical business to make purchases based on digital engagement — in Taiwan, said Yu, whose business interests have extended in the past few years to information technology and e-commerce.
If completed, the project would add more than 60,000 ping (198,347.4m2) of commercial space to the vicinity of Taipei Railway Station by 2024, Yu said.
“I would not worry about a supply glut, because there are no similar competitors in the neighborhood,” he added.
The area has a competitive edge over the Xinyi District, where commercial space totals more than 100,000 ping, thanks to the proximity of historical sites and tourism resources, the team said.
The project might cost NT$60 billion (US$1.94 billion), with 50 percent coming from bank loans, Yu said, adding that his consortium does not have an exit plan, as it favors long-term investments.
Compared with real-estate prices in international cities across Asia, prices in Taipei are relatively affordable, and there is ample room to improve on the team’s investment, he said.
However, Yu said he was frustrated by Taiwan’s requirement that no Chinese company own more than a 30 percent stake in his Hong Kong-listed firm.
The requirement could scare away foreign direct investment as foreign funds can purchase company shares on the open market, he said.
“Taiwan should be more open and friendly toward foreign investment,” Yu added.