GOOD NEWS. I had a glimpse of Hong Kong’s post-Covid future from the window of a coach taking me from the city’s airport to seven days of isolation: three in a hotel and the remainder maintaining my own “medical surveillance” at home.
I’ll spare readers the pricey pre-travel PCR rigmarole and form downloading required before being allowed to board a flight back to Hong Kong. Instead, let me share with you Skycity taking shape next to the airport’s third runway and the exit-entry point of the bridge and tunnel link to Macau and Zhuhai.
Such was my awe at the edifice of wet concrete that will form the exteriors of a massive hotel, retail, dining and leisure complex that I didn’t have time to whip the phone out for amateur shots that would do the HK$20 billion, 25-hectare complex no justice.
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Skycity (which is usually written in full capitals for marketing purposes) is scheduled to open in phases from next year to 2027. The New World Development complex will occupy a maximum gross floor area of 350,000 square metres and will be the largest facility if its kind in Hong Kong, where there is basically scant room to build anything so vast across ground level.
More crucially, once Covid has been vanquished and we commence the post-pandemic boom, Skycity will synergise – as they say these days – with Lantau Tomorrow, an economic blueprint for the island on which the airport is linked, the town of Tung Chung and of course, HZMB – the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
While Hong Kong still battles rising Covid cases with stop-start restrictions imposed and concessions to the local business events industry, such as allowing overseas buyers to attend exhibitions after three days of hotel quarantine, construction continues largely unabated.
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That is why the expertly organised tattiness on a construction site and the cranes and structures rising therefrom give a hopeful picture of how a city’s future will be charted.
As I write this on my second day of isolation in a hotel room (big shout out to Dorsett Tsuen Wan!) and watch health officials either squirm or lay down the law at their daily press conferences shown on the TV beside me, it’s difficult to make sense of the struggle.
There was a time when you barely had to walk two minutes to see a Hong Kong building site. Then there was a time in 2019 when within two minutes you’d see protesters of student age commandeering traffic cones and placing them at your inconvenience, when they weren’t up to more damaging activity like occupying the airport.
Once again we are noticing construction sites – and the sight I marvelled at from the Covid wagon was the most glorious of all – and it won’t be any old pie-in-the-Skycity
Main picture: Not exactly what I saw from the bus window, but an artist version of how Skycity may look