San Po Kong. It’s a neighbourhood with a lot of history, but many Hongkongers have no idea where it is. They should take out their maps, because it’s worth getting to know – especially as it becomes one of the city’s new hotspots for real estate development.
Located in Wong Tai Sin District between the Kai Tak River and the former Kai Tak airport, San Po Kong has a history that stretches back hundreds of years, to when it was a stretch of fertile farmland dotted by walled villages like Nga Tsin Wai, which was founded by the Ng clan more than 700 years ago. Factories were built in the area after World War II, and it was at one of the neighbourhood’s plastic flower factories that a labour dispute triggered the 1967 riots.
Well-considered street names
It’s a neighbourhood full of quirky surprises, like many of its street names, which were named after numbers from one to eight. Sze Mei Street (???) means Four Beauties Street; Tsat Po Street (???) means Seven Treasures. Whoever named the streets clearly had a lot of fun: the street representing the number two is Sheung Hei Street (???), which is an old-fashioned way of saying Double Happiness.
With the closure of many factories and the redevelopment of the old airport, San Po Kong is set for radical change in the near future. The Shatin-to-Central MTR link is currently under construction with a planned station at Kai Tak. When it opens in the early 2020s, it will give San Po Kong a fast link to the rest of Hong Kong. The journey from San Po Kong to Wan Chai is expected to take just 30 minutes.
New commercial energy
Developers are already getting ready. The AIA Financial Centre paved the way for office development when it opened in 2000. It is joined this year by Billion Development’s new 3 Tai Yau Street office tower. Expect even more exciting projects like this as transportation links to San Po Kong improve and the nearby Kai Tak redevelopment takes off. Many of the area’s industrial buildings are ripe for conversion into office space, too. It is worth noting that a number of hotels are planned in the pipeline of The Lands Department, HKSAR Government.
It’s a similar story for residential development. Sun Hung Kai’s massive housing estate, The Latitude, has dominated the area’s skyline since it opened in 2011. It includes a footbridge across Prince Edward Road that provides a direct link to Kai Tak, which will be home to many large housing developments in the near future. The government hopes to use more than just footbridges to link Kai Tak with San Po Kong. It has proposed a network of underground shopping streets that will radiate out from the future Kai Tak MTR station, though these are still being planned and no concrete proposals have been approved.
Don't miss their infrastructure
Another new connection will be the Kai Tak River, which borders San Po Kong to the west. Originally a stream that flowed down from the Kowloon Hills, it was transformed into a nullah by the Japanese army during World War II. It became heavily polluted during the industrial era, but in recent years it has been cleaned up so much that large schools of fish now thrive in its waters. The river is now being transformed into a green corridor lined by a walking path that will lead out to Victoria Harbour.
Next to the river, Kowloon’s last walled village, Nga Tsin Wai, is being redeveloped into a heritage theme park with a large new residential development by the Urban Renewal Authority and Cheung Kong Properties. Several historic village houses will be preserved, along with an ancient Tin Hau temple.
With all of these new developments, San Po Kong seems set to attract a new, younger generation of residents drawn to the area’s new office space and its proximity to CBD2 in Kowloon East. So far, this new demographic is relatively underserved – the only new retail in the area is Mikiki, the shopping mall in The Latitude’s podium. Keep an eye out for exciting changes in the near future.