Uncertain future for The Boxes border mall

Hong Kong shopping centre The Boxes faces uncertainty in renewing its land-use permit following losses of HK$18 million (US$2.29 million).

The Boxes, Hong Kong’s first outlet mall near the Shenzhen border, has been running poorly since its opening in February this year, with many shops yet to open.

Wong Ting-kwong, the project’s advocate and lawmaker, said: “We are seeking a three-year renewal from the Town Planning Board. Because of this uncertainty, our tenants don’t want to take a risk and waste their investment even for these few months. We’ve also put on hold our promotion plans to bring in mainland tour groups because we want to wait for the decision.”

The tenants’ uncertainty is the reported cause of the losses, with all rents waived until the land-use permit can be renewed. The mall operator has borne the operating costs of HK$2 million a month since the its launch, which was significantly delayed due to the complexity of the mall’s design to resemble shipping containers.

Wong is confidence the permit will be renewed. “When the permit is renewed, we will sign new contracts with tenants, and actually a lot of prospective tenants will join us too. We will then start introducing a lot of initiatives such as bringing in inbound tour groups with our tour partners,” he said.

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