As real estate professionals, we look at the world around us through a multi-faceted lens. Nowhere has this been more evident to me than on this trip to Hong Kong. We have so far met with government agencies, private developers, consultants, and community representatives. Our upcoming meeting with a group of investors will hopefully complete our picture of the opportunities and challenges of the real estate environment here.
Each group of stakeholders in the community looks at development from their own unique vantage point. More often than not, they are not looking at the perspective of the other stakeholders, but instead are myopic on their own preferred outcomes. Rarely can a project successfully balance the needs of so many different parties and still do so in a way that is efficient and financially successful. However, for a developer and the project to truly succeed in its community, the goals of these parties must be clearly defined and aligned with a system for measuring ultimate outcomes.
The Wan Chai neighborhood seems to epitomize this struggle, and reminds me so much of the ever-present tension that exists between developer and community in so many places in the United States. The community has organized a concern group for the Urban Renewal Authority’s H15 project, an ambitious redevelopment project that cleared a housing tenement area with a thriving retail and arts collective. Although these passionate and articulate citizens likely feel that their voices were not heard, they appear to have had a significant long-term effect on development policy and strategy in the concerned agencies.
Perhaps if the redevelopment process in Hong Kong included a clear set of measurements for non-financial project performance, there would be a greater chance of broad project success that includes the existing community residents and businesses.