New World gets closer to realising State Theatre plan

Hong Kong property giant New World Development, owned by the Cheng family, is a step closer to realising plans for its first heritage project in the territory. 

The company has secured the purchase of three more shops in the former State Theatre building in North Point, paying more than double their worth according to real-estate news site Mingtiandi. 

That takes its ownership to 95 per cent of the 67-year-old theatre, seven years after it started progressively buying units. 

An application for compulsory sale was lodged last October but the company is continuing to acquire stores on the street front in the meantime. 

The prominent building on Kings Road originally opened in 1952 as the Empire Theatre, but was renamed State Theatre seven years later. At the time it was at the heart of the district dubbed Little Shanghai following the Second World War. 

The building hosted a performance by Taiwanese singer teresa Tang in 1970 and featured in the Bruce Lee film Game of Death in 1978. 

It building takes up a 36,200sqft plot of land on the corner of Tin Chong Street. 

New World plans to preserve and restore parts of the historic theatre but says it will not reveal its complete plan until it owns 100 per cent of the site. 

Mingtiandi says New World is working with conservationists, museum creators and academics to document the history of the theatre. Given Adrian Cheng’s passion for art and culture – he is the creator of the K11 art malls and K11 Musea due to open in Kowloon this year – it is highly likely the theatre space will be preserved as the anchor of whatever commercial development is planned. 

New World acquired about 12 per cent of the building – including the theatre space and three ground-floor shops – about two months ago for $737 million. The latest acquisition of three units cost $188 million, representing a 132 per cent premium over the a third-party valuation of the property.

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