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Discovery Bay, Hong Kong's carfree community /HK#5

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Discovery Bay, Hong Kong's carfree community /HK#5

Are residents in Paradise, or in "the Prisoner" ?



"A million miles from the teaming morass of Hong Kong island"



(Back when the Sienna Area was being built.)


Whether you are "just a number" or a free man, in Discovery Bay, HK's best-known carfree community inspires a range of reactions. Many love its "resort" feeling with open space, gardens, play-grounds for children, and its banning of automobiles. Others find it reminds them of the community from the TV's series The Prisoner. Some say, "I didnt come to Asia to live in a place that is so dominated by foreigners." Some also say, "It is heaven for dogs, and Filipino helpers." For those who ask me about it, I tell them you can sum it up with two words: expats, and families.


Great for those that fit, but not for every one. Still like to visit, and have a meal or a coffee at one of the myraid restaurants in DB's Water Margin. while soaking up its Mediterranean atmosphere

== ==



(If this picture makes you feel great, you will love DB.)


Where: Discovery Bay, Lantau Island

Who...: Expats and (english-speaking) locals

Why...: Resort living with a community feel

What..: Sales and rents are almost at their 1997 peak

Sales..: Highrise units sell for an average of around HK$3,400-3,500 psf, lowrise fro about HK$6,200 psf

..........: (that's hk$3 million for 1BR, and as much as hk$22 mn. for luxury 3BR flats in new Chianti)

Rental.: Studios: HK$6500, family-sized apartments for hk$50,000 - 100,000; houses for over hk$100,000

Trans. : Ferry to Central: every half hour, takes less than 30 minutes; Bus+MTR: 20 minutes+ 20minutes


Now controversy and outrage come to DB. The developer, HK Resorts, is trying to get permission to increase the density, and "make better use of the land." Square Mile has just had a story about it. Some highlights:


+ Dbay's current plot ratio stands at just 0.18 - which is very low for Hong Kong, and there is still 2 million sf near the DB-TC tunnel which is available for new construction. They have already begun to clear the ground. What will the new buildings look like?


+ Seven years ago, it announced plans to build a hk$1 billion hotel complex (at the northern end), and residents tried and failed to squash the plan.


+ The developer may just be testing the waters, since the government has not yet received a formal proposal


Hong Kong Resorts (HK:480) Monthly Chart ... update



== == == == ==


Discovery Bay website : http://www.hkr-intl.com/icms2/template?series=1

Ferry schedule........... : http://www.hkr-intl.com/icms2/template?ser...amp;article=198

DB's online chatboard. : http://www.discoverybayforum.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl

HKR- hk:480 charts..... : http://www.advfn.com/cmn/fbb/thread.php3?id=17633391

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...from the DB Forum...

/see: http://www.discoverybayforum.com/cgi-bin/y...;num=1209897874


1/ PlazaTart:

DB property market / « on: May 4th, 2008 »


There has been a lot of property come onto the market in recent days in DB and some with quite motivated sellers


Is this a trend as the market slows up overall or has there been some new news come out recently that makes people suddenly more cautious



2/ WhyNot

change in school catchment area?


3/ VauxhaulViva


-Lack of Transparency on new ferry pier location

-and any assoc shops / supermarkets etc in same location

-Rumours of Reduction in Ferry sailings during the night which is 100% the wrong message to send to prospective buyers to DB

- Lack of Tenant/owner occupier takeup in Chianti ((DB: interesting. will they start dumping?))


We need to start selling DB a lot more as a great place to live than HKR marketing seem capable of.



Prices still seem to be dropping and we still cant sell our flat even though have taken 500k off this week


- Has there been any update on resolving the school situation?

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* HKR International, the co-developer of Discovery Bay on Lantau

Island, plans to ask the government to increase the plot ratio of the

residential community to make a better use of land on the 650-hectare


* Under the current plot ratio, there is still 2 million sq ft

near the Tung Chung-Discovery Bay Tunnel available for building. A

company once developed Discovery Bay says if the plot ratio is doubled,

there will be an additional 8 million sq ft of gross floor area for

development, without revealing the plot ratio HKR wants.

* Discovery Bay is almost the same size as the Kowloon peninsula

south of Boundary Street, with 16,000 people living in 8,000 units.

* The plan is likely to spark controversy among residents as many

of them choose the place for its low-density setting and natural

surroundings. A real estate firm, however, says even if the developers

succeed in doubling the plot ratio to 0.36, it would still compare

favourably to other low-density areas such as Repulse Bay at the south

of Hong Kong Island, which has a ratio of 0.5.

* The Planning Department says if the Town Planning Board

receives an application for the revisions of the outline zoning plans,

it will take into account all the relevant planning considerations,

including public comments.



/see: http://www.discoverybayforum.com/cgi-bin/y...;num=1205981949

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flyroy ... on: Mar 8th, 2008,



Yeah keep building even though we don't have enough schools in DB, only one grocery store,

and the Sunny Bay bus is jammed packed in the morning. Service the people who live here first by building at least 4 more schools before you bring more families in.


Not shocked, but still had to vent.



Michelle's response:

"Having bilked the Hong Kong exchequer out of huge land premiums with the connivance of a friendly administration and turned it into a large real estate devlopment, HKR now wants to move the goalposts yet again. If it happens, imagine the effect on DB life. Where will the infrastructure (schools, shops, recreational facilities) and services to support a much larger community come from? Do you think the roads won't be opened to general traffic? Don't you think it will effect the value of your property? If you moved here years ago for a better quality of live, won't you feel cheated? "





/more: http://www.discoverybayforum.com/cgi-bin/y...;num=1205981949

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(Following are my first impressions of DBay, from my old HK Diary):


Upon my return to Hongkong, I find myself living at Disco Bay. But maybe only for one month.




This is an interesting place. And in some ways it is a utopia.


Carfree Living

To start with, they have done away with the private car- and this is something I like. No one here is allowed to own a car and bring it into the complex. Actually, this is not precisely true, you can get a car or truck into the DB complex, but you have to pay HK$500 (over £36, about $64) at the toll booth to get onto the private road. This is rarely done, unless people take delivery of furniture or other heavy items. How do people get around? By bus, by walking, and by golf cart.




About 10-12 minutes away by bus are two MTR stops. So most people just jump on the bus at the MTR, and ride it to the bus stop nearest their homes. And nearly all homes are within easy walk of a bus stop. At worst, they take a second bus. The golf cars are not allowed out of the complex. Another way into the complex is by ferry. At the opposite end of DB away from the MTR, there is a pier where a regular ferry service is operated. Also at the far end from where we live is a gold course. So those nice golf carts we see cruising around here can make it all the way onto a golf course, but not onto Hong Kong island.



Another DB advantage is that population density- much less than what you find on HK island. Sure, people here live ontop of each other in highrises. But between the skyscrapers are low-rise buildings, gardens, and water features. Walkways are often shaded, and there are loads of excellent views, overlooking the sea and the man-made gardens. I have seen pages of professional-looking photographs taken amateurs, who just wandered around Disco Bay on a casual afternoon.


DB is a quiet and less polluted place to live. You see lots of happy families, and people walking their dogs, jogging, and sometimes just relaxing. In some ways, this is the dream-come-true of a California 1960's hippy. And getting rid of all those private cars must mean that the average energy consumption per capita is way below the average for a surburb in the US or Europe.


Am I living in the energy-wise future? I hope not, because there is a dark side.


Tight Management

Along with all the good points of living here, are some important disadvantages. They mostly flow from the tight regulation and intense profit-motive of the owners of DB. I checked the website, and found this:


"Discovery Bay is managed by Discovery Bay Services Management Limited. Adopting a customer-oriented approach, they provide quality and personalised management services which cater to residents' needs and take care of their daily lives. The major responsibilities of Discovery Bay Services Management Limited are community relations, estate management and maintenance of the whole area, including landscaping, security, cleaning of common areas, refuse collection, road maintenance, street lighting, and drainage and sewage, etc."


DB is not a self-governing township with a mayor and elected officials, it is a profit-making enterprise. Some futher checking on the web revealed that it is owned by a mainland Chinese-controlled public outfit, CITIC Pacific, who describes DB as: "A self-contained township development with 24-hour ferry services to Hong Kong central business district". (Link) Fair enough, but it wasn't easy to find out much about DB's profit contribution.


The Discovery Bay community does not tolerate competition. The buses are run by a single company, which has a full monopoly on all that nice traffic generated by a community without cars. They charge HK$8.00 for a short 10-12 minute journey to the MTR. The buses are often full, especially during rush hour, when you will find them crowded with people standing up- some commuters will be late for work, when buses are full.* I have taken bus journeys of similar length (near Park Island) and paid a fare of HK$4.50. So $8 seems excessive. If you spread this amongst x,xxx residents in DB, and multipy it by 365 days, it adds up.


The golf cars are not free either. You cannot simply bring your own golf cart into DB. You have to buy or rent a licensed vehicle. And they are expensive. HK$500,000 wil get you a secondhand golf cart, and the license to run it. For those that think in Pounds Sterling, that's over £35,000. Or in US dollars, $64,000. Which could buy alot of car, even a hybrid. Why so expensive? It is a limited supply. I was told that only 400 carts are allowed in the whole complex, despite the fact that new buildings are being added to the complex. This is too expensive, in a community which is few transport options, and if the DB management were as "customer-oriented" as it says it is, it might offer more licenses to get the price down. Or perhaps make the place more bicycle-friendly by providing more parking for cycles close to DB's various attractions.



Now there's a word. Perhaps this is the biggest difference I have found between London and Hong Kong: the lack of attractions for people with free time. Disco Bay, and much of HK for that matter, has very few pubs, only one tiny coffee shop, and has simply not provided freespace where people might fritter away their spare time in a relaxed manner. I can recall reading somewhere that what makes an urban environment liveable and attractive for people are two things: interesting architecture (rather than uniformity), and public spaces full of rich and varied street life. DB succeeds with the former: the architecture is very suitable for human living. DB's architecture is mostly free of depressingly monatonous uniformity. The mixture of interesting buildings, and nature succeeds beautifully. But Disco Bay does not provide a rich and varied street life.


Half Hour Test *

I have a simple test that I like to use is what I call, the casual half hour test. If you have a half hour to kill on you way to or from work, is there somewhere pleasant to go to kill that half hour. Well there is, if you like walking through nature. But if you want to enjoy a cup of coffee, read a newspaper, find a pub and pour down a pint, forget it. DB management forces you into a small number of choices. It is as if they expect everyone to head to one of the two social clubs at either end of the complex. There, you can buy a cup of coffee for HK$20 if you are a member, or HK$30 if you are a guest- about twice what you would pay at Starbucks or Pacific Coffee. So do not expect casual or spontaneous meetings with friends.


The Social Clubs are a real scam. You pay three times for your privileges. First, there's an activation fee or debenture, costing thousands, then you pay a monthly fee to gain access to the club. Not finished paying, there's also a "consumption cost" for your half hour of tennis, or your aerobics class. And the food is pricey too. Just what you would expect from a monopoly institution.


What DB needs too do, is open up coffee shops, pubs and/or small kiosks right around the complex. This way its citizens could freely walk only 5-10 minutes for some casual socialising. This would dramatically improve the quality of life, in a place which currently feels overly-regimented.


Management is incredibly short-sighted. They do not seem to realise that an improvement of quality of life at this rather beautiful complex, would make it a better place to live, and more popular. The better word of mouth would attract more demand, and put up property values.


Unfortunately, I do not think DB management will see the light. So when my month here is up, I shall be moving out. As i do that, i will recall the times i raced to the ferry at old Silvermine Bay. Once again, I will be looking to escape so I do not get trapped in the wrong place overnight.


/see: http://www.greenenergyinvestors.com/index.php?showtopic=866

= = = = =


*This comment was written over 18 months ago while there was a renovation going on.

Later, Water Margin was opened, and it provided lots of good quality restaurants, and

a nice Pacific Coffee. Nevertheless, the comment still applies to the North part of DBay.

Near Siena, SienaTwo, and Chianti, there is still almost nothing to do, within walking distance.\

And transport in the mornings out of Chianti etc, remains a big problem

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting, pertinent stuff. Any reason for the recent interest in DB Bubb?


I will have to admit that DB is not really a place for me. I find it too inconvenient to get to, especially if you work in Kowloon, Wan Chai, etc... Central is cope-able. My priorities would be to minimse travel time and cost, and I don't like the fact that everything costs more over there. I like to have the option of dining at a Dai Pai Dong round the corner if I feel like it, and not be restricted to mostly expensive al fresco restuarants. With a young family I can see some benefits, however, I am unmarried and in my 20's. The fact that it is generally a mini english speaking community is a bonus, and which is one of the reasons why I bought a flat there. I'm hoping it makes it easier to communicate with tenants. I bought mainly as an investment a few years ago, and would mostly likely rent elsewhere in HK if I ever moved back there to work. I have family living there which help me keep an eye on it. I intend to buy in the US or UK in a few years time when hopefully things bottom out. Depending on HK property prices then I will likely sell to fund that purchase. If there is further upward movement in HK property prices I will probably hang on to it.


Paradise or Prisoner? Somewhere in between? Depends on the individual no doubt.

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Interesting, pertinent stuff. Any reason for the recent interest in DB Bubb?


I will have to admit that DB is not really a place for me. I find it too inconvenient to get to, especially if you work in Kowloon, Wan Chai, etc... Central is cope-able. My priorities would be to minimse travel time and cost... however, I am unmarried and in my 20's.


That's it.

DB works for those couples who want an "Expat friendly" environment for their families,

where "Daddy" is willing to pay the cost, and put up with the longer commute to get it.


It will be interesting to see how many workers moving into the ICC wind up there in the years to come.


I think tht DB management needs to have a regular bus service to Sunny bay, for those who bought the

expensive flats in Chianti


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  • 3 weeks later...
There is a bus service to Sunny Bay, but I don't know how regular it is. It seemed reasonable to me.


if you are living at chianti, the problem is getting onto the bus

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  • 2 weeks later...
if you are living at chianti, the peroblem is getting onto the bus


Ah, because it fills up at the 1st stop (ferry pier) and the first few blocks along the way? A common issue for HK commuters. The advantage is that you're not sat on the bus for so long as it picks everyone up, but when you do get on you often can't fit! I generally don't mind squeezing in last if it shortens my travel time.


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CHIANTI PRICES - not cheap


Chianti, Phase 13 of Discovery Bay, in August 2007 was a remarkable success. With the Group’s strong branding in quality living, units were snapped up by both home buyers and investors alike. As of 31 March 2008, 519 units were sold at an average of HK$6,410 per square foot GFA, representing approximately 98% of the total number of Chianti units. Two of the specialty units, namely Spa Residence and Cristalli Duplex, also attained record-high selling prices of HK$14,113 and HK$10,294 per square foot GFA respectively


/see: http://www.quamnet.com/companySearchDetail...n?coId=433&

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  • 1 month later...

A mention in today's SCMP:


Disco bay rents hit record

2,099 sf house sets benchmark at HK$70 psf


"almost in line with rents paid in the Mid-Levels on HK Island"


48 Headland Road

High rent was thanks to the owner investing HK$1.5 mn, to upgrade a 28-year old house


Houses not recently upgraded are fetching: $40-45 psf.


Since the opening of the Int'l School. rents are up about 15 pc

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  • 1 month later...

Just joined and will write a bit about HK property. Here's the DB part.


Used to live in DB 8-10 years ago, in those blocks w/t walking distance to pier, middle of the mountain. Moved out to HK island after 2 years cos long work hours and also, believe it or not, the unit rented got infested with termites. That really caused a lot of pain and stress. The pestbuster people told me termites being a common problem in DB due to the mountains and also the extra humidity.


I returned to DB in late 2007 thinking of investing there. Was genuinely surprised that despite all the new developments put in with modernised pier fronts and cafes, the whole place simply feel SO MUCH MORE crowded. It also did not feel quite the same left-alone & tranquility that was so unique of DB in the past.


Also, 10 years on, DB has a lot more competitors with the rise of Tung Chung, Tsing Yi, Park Island, Tsueng Kwan O and even Ma On Shan.

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  • 4 weeks later...

DIscontent at Disco Bay / (from today's SCMP)


Rising ferry costs threaten to drive residents away,

as Discovery Bay Transit Services proposes a 16-64% rise in ferry rates


Family of three could see their transport costs rise to HK$7,260


Some people are threatening to abandon the "island of dogs and babies" in DB.


+ Resident population of 16,000

+ People are angered by HKR's style of management in presenting the price rise

+ Annual Mgmt fees at DB total hk$118 mn in year to March 2008



+ 5-10% of population would leave, and rents might fall by 20-30%

+ However, the big rise estimate could just be a "scare tactic"

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  • 4 years later...

In am looking at DBay versus Caribbean Coast (Tung Chung) property prices

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  • 2 weeks later...


I wrote this back in 2008

QUOTE (14k @ Jun 9 2008, 11:01 PM)

Interesting, pertinent stuff. Any reason for the recent interest in DB Bubb?


I will have to admit that DB is not really a place for me. I find it too inconvenient to get to, especially if you work in Kowloon, Wan Chai, etc... Central is cope-able. My priorities would be to minimse travel time and cost... however, I am unmarried and in my 20's.



That's it.

DB works for those couples who want an "Expat friendly" environment for their families,

where "Daddy" is willing to pay the cost, and put up with the longer commute to get it.


It will be interesting to see how many workers moving into the ICC wind up there in the years to come.


I think tht DB management needs to have a regular bus service to Sunny bay, for those who bought the

expensive flats in Chianti



They still need better transport to the North.

Maybe when they open the hotel (Spring?), then the cabs will be flowing more freely to service it.

That might be a huge improvement, but only if the taxis do not have to pay a special charge to use the Tunnel

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DB CHAT - from AX



What can you get for 4 million in DB?




Posted by mamadavid


We are looking to buy a flat in DB, 4 million max (purchase price+renovation as they all seem to need renovation). Need 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms or 1 bathroom + 1 toilet, or at least the possibility of putting in second toilet ourselves. So far Parkridge Village is the best we've seen in this price range (540 saleable sq feet, convenient for transportation to Plaza/airport/Tong Chong). Haven't visited Peninsula Village (Blossom, Jovial) which seems to be a bit cheaper than the average, but looking at the map not sure how convenient it is for the pier. Why is Peninsula cheaper (i.e. what's wrong with it)? Can anyone tell me the pros and cons of the various buildings / phases? Thanks. Also, what do your crystal balls say about where prices will go in the near future?




We had a look recently at Blossom.

Flats are of good size, and views are good too.

Problem: it is a long walk to the Ferry, and Two bus rides from the MTR.

If that doesn't bother you, it probably represents good value

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