Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) is kicking off Hong Kong’s first “multigeneration” housing project, offering facilities that cater equally for the young and the elderly, as the city’s largest developer adjusts its real estate designs to a rapidly greying population.
Up to 20 per cent, or 303 of the 1,1518 apartments at the developer’s proposed project in Tung Shing Lei, a seven-minute walk from the Yuen Long subway station in the New Territories, will be configured specifically for the elderly, with a wellness centre that sits alongside a kindergarten and a nursery, so that three generations of a family can have easy access to the facilities.
“There is a need in the market” for property projects to cater specifically to the elderly, said Spencer Lu, SHKP’s project director at at the planning and development department. “Our project feature elderly friendly designs for grandparents, while the children and grandchildren can live in a separate (standard) unit in the same housing estate.”
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Hong Kong has a rapidly greying population, with the number of residents older than 65 years projected to increase to 2.59 million by 2066, or 37 per cent of the city’s population, according to local authorities. Men and women in the city have also lived longer than other populations since 2010, with the median male life expectancy at 82 years, and female at 88 years, according to the World Bank’s data.
Such a demographic profile is exerting specific needs on housing, especially since Hong Kong families put more of their elderly in retirement homes than other markets, at 7 per cent compared with between 3 and 4 per cent in Japan and North America, Lu said.
“Families that can afford to buy two homes are financially sound, which means they have alternative options to take care of their parents,” said JLL’s chairman Joseph Tsang in Hong Kong. “It is worth it for private developers to test the market as ageing is a growing trend.”
The Tung Shing Lei project will come with a wellness centre measuring 10,764 square feet (1,000 square metres), equivalent to the aveareg publicly funded elderly day care centre with 65 beds. The design includes facilities for Chinese medical therapy, recreational amenities for the elderly to stretch and tone their bodies, and a gym, the developer said.
Doorways in the buildings will be extra wide to allow easy access for wheelchairs, while corridors will be built with handrails to make it easier and safer for senior citizens to move about.
“The wellness centre is similar to a club for seniors, where they can enjoy different activities to keep their health going,” said Rebecca Wong, planning director at SHKP’s project planning and development department, adding that the facilities are also open to non-residents, catering to nearby housing estates like the Grand Yoho. “It will offer other medical services like occupation therapy treatment or in-home therapist services. Everything is just within 10 minutes walk from their homes.”
Development of the project, located at the Wetland Buffer Area in the New Territories, is likely to be completed in four to five years, as the site usage would need to be converted into residential purpose before construction could begin, Wong said.
SHKP is not the sole developer to be pitching a multigeneration theme. ChinaChem’s new Mount Anderson residential project at the Anderson Road quarry in Kwun Tong has set aside 30 units out of the total 334-apartment enclave for senior residents. A clubhouse at the project will provide nursing services to residents, a spokesman said.
“Previously, developers were racing to build shoebox size flats aimed at the younger generation,” said Victor Lai Kin-fai, managing director of Centaline Surveyors, adding that the trend for so-called elderly designs is unsustainable without government support. “Builders have to sell other concepts when the building fever for tiny flats has subsided. It is more like a gimmick.”
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