Is Hong Kong’s Discovery Bay about to be wrecked by developers?

Published:  1 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: Hong Kong, Money
Discovery Bay’s tranquil Hong Kong beachside suburb set on Lantau Island gives a welcome release from city life for its mostly expat community, but is now under threat by developers.

Low rise properties sit in this mountainous, green island suburb of chaotic Hong Kong are favoured by expat professionals as well as locals as an escape from life in the overcrowded city. Discovery Bay’s marina has been traditionally home to a community of 200 boat-dwellers, until a recent order evicted them to allow so-called renovations to take place. The overnight ferries from the main island providing late-night transportation to the area are about to be replaced by a bus route using the bridge, and a new shopping mall is under construction adjacent to the ferry pier.

Given the above and more, the 19,000 local and expat residents in Discovery Bay could be forgiven for suspecting their enviable lifestyle is about to come to an end as big money takes over their much-loved location. No-one has any idea what’s going down, although an ice-rink is to be built, presumable to entice tourists from the mainland via the new bridge linking Macau and Zhuhai with Hong Kong. Residents’ worst nightmare is the transforming of Discovery Bay from a residential expatriate haven to an outlet store hub complete with beach.

The worst affected to date have been the boat-dwellers, many of whom chose living on the water as an alternative to Hong Kong’s massive rents for tiny apartments. The marina acts as a typhoon shelter, hunkering down every autumn as the giant storms regularly roll in and threaten life on the boats as well as on the land. The marina boat owners have until the end of December to quit, and have been given no idea whether they will ever be allowed to return. Most are middle-class young professionals with growing families, and most have spent up to a million HK dollars and more to establish themselves on the water. The fees for moorings in the Discovery Bay Marina Club are expensive, but cheaper than similar onshore accommodation on Hong Kong’s main island. Around 80 per cent of the boats are owned and occupied by expats.
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