Soaring to new heights with Chinachem Group | Real Estate Asia
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Soaring to new heights with Chinachem Group

The company won multiple trophies at the Real Estate Asia Awards 2022 and CEO Donald Choi took home the coveted CEO of the Year Award. 

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate companies had a hard time trying to survive as assets stagnated due to low demand from the usual commercial tenants that shifted to remote working and from retail tenants due to low foot traffic as a result of government mandates and lockdowns. Despite these challenges, Chinachem Group thrived through the pandemic and beyond thanks to the leadership of Donald Choi, winning the CEO of the Year Award, Developer of the Year - Hong Kong Award, ESG Initiative of the Year - Hong Kong Award, and Redevelopment of the Year - Hong Kong Award at the Real Estate Asia Awards 2022. 

The awards programme recognises major breakthroughs, innovations, and key players in the real estate industry in Asia, and Chinachem Group under Choi, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company, distinguished themselves with multiple projects and initiatives to preserve Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage. 

Central Market Revitalisation 

Under the leadership of Donald Choi, Chinachem Group undertook the Central Market Revitalisation Project, which involved a combination of preservation and placemaking strategies to materialise a “playground for all” concept into the historic site, which was Hong Kong’s first wet market established in 1842. In cooperation with the Urban Renewal Authority in 2021, the grade-III heritage was reinvented into a new landmark that connects the community, safeguards cultural heritage, and drives innovation. 

To adapt to the latest building regulations, traditional Shanghai plastering techniques were used to recreate the original looks of the iconic Grand Staircase, whilst greenery fills the grounds both indoors and outdoors to mitigate the urban heat island effect, transforming the site into a green landmark in its neighbourhood. 

With a strong focus on promoting local brands, an open-plan design offers over 100 leasable units to cater to many tenants, offering start-ups basic fixtures and fitting-outs with the support of a comprehensive point-of-sale system, in the hope to encourage start-ups to find their footing and take their first steps on their business journey here. The revitalised site interweaves food experience, retailtainment, and cultural experience through choreographed space. 

The site also aims to promote and foster social cohesion and inclusion, sustain cultural legacy, and fuel innovation for future generations, along with the semi-open space that provides an ideal venue for performances and large-scale events to encourage connection and engagement. 

The revitalised site interweaves food experience, retailtainment, and cultural experience through choreographed space.

Developing like no other company 

Aside from the revitalisation of the Central Market, Chinachem Group cemented their position as a top real estate company with multiple groundbreaking projects such as the Sol City, Mount Anderson, and the Tonkin Street Redevelopment Project. 

Sol City offers a vibrant gateway to the neighbourhood, with buildings that allow natural light and ventilation to permeate through the site into the surroundings whilst fostering social fabric through its connection to Long Ping Station. 

Mount Anderson provides a peek into sustainable ageing, offering sustainable smart homes with 30% of the site covered in greenery and extensive plantings on the building facade, being BEAM Plus NB v1.2 (Provisional Gold) and WELL v2 pilot certified with the latter being Q1 2020 Core. 

Amongst the age-friendly design and cross-generation living features provided, the site includes larger lifts for emergency beds, stepless design at the entrance, shower and balconies, movable cabinet and extendable table to facilitate wheelchair users, and -specialised design of handles for better grip. The buildings also employ 5G, residential apps, and IoT devices. 

The Tonkin Street Redevelopment Project is the first private residential development to deploy modular integrated construction to reduce construction waste and noise. Also, Chinachem Group is the first real estate developer in Hong Kong to make use of the Enertainer system to replace diesel generators to improve construction site environments. Enertainer has been applied first on the Anderson Road project site and will be extended to the Group’s other development projects. 

Same roots, same origins 

As part of the UNESCO Project, Chinachem unveiled a Chinachem Lai Chi Wo Story Room which aims to educate the younger generation about Hakka culture, specifically on the four areas of Hakka village life namely wedding rituals, traditional medicine, daily lives, and folk songs, and promote eco-tourism. 

Revitalised from one of the village houses, the story room amplified the tourism potential of the community, with the increased popularity of the area indirectly bringing improvements to the facilities, infrastructure, and accessibility of the area. 

Opened in December 2021, the project serves as an embodiment of collaborative innovation and excellence, with public visitors, villages, and media members joining the opening ceremony with guided tours and lion dance performances. The project brought villagers together to recollect their memories and renew their ties with their heritage, as it was implemented with the full involvement of the communities. 

New frontier with Donald Choi

Having worked globally as an architect and developer for over three decades, Donald Choi has extensive expertise in real estate development and investment and serves as President of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design aside from his position as CEO with Chinachem Group. 

Under Choi’s leadership, the company has made great strides in manifesting its vision to make Hong Kong a better place to live, work and raise its future generations. In late 2020, Choi set a milestone by rebranding the company as a developer of “Places with Heart”, an embodiment of their commitment to making a positive impact on the community and environment. 

In 2021, he launched the CCG Innovation Ambassador Programme, offering workshops to help staff develop skillsets needed to come up with innovative ideas and problem-solving methods through design thinking, veering away from the traditional “top-down” management style. The programme encourages cross-departmental sharing, allowing “bottom-up” solution proposals, from identifying problems to developing solutions. 

Choi also cultivated the resilience of Nina Hospitality as the pandemic cut tourist arrivals, with Nina Hotel Island South becoming one of the first hotels in Hong Kong to accept a quarantine stay resulting in the brand becoming one of the few hotel groups in Hong Kong to achieve a positive GOP in 2020. 

Chinachem Group also enjoyed many partnerships thanks to the initiatives executed under Choi, such as those with Hysan Development, ATAL Engineering Group, the GBA Smart City Technology Venture Investment, PropTech Global Challenge 2020, and CCG Accel – Powered by HKSTP. 

Causeway Bay site with Hysan Development became Hong Kong’s largest vaccine centre on private property, boosting vaccination as Hong Kong battles with the 5th wave of COVID-19. The venture is located on Caroline Hill Road Site, allowing the HK government to launch a pop-up vaccination centre with a total of 18 booths. 

The company explored new services for the healthcare sector in the areas of medical tourism, telemedicine, and IoT with ATAL Engineering Group, delivering services in new, innovative, patient-centred ways. This partnership aims to meet the needs of the ageing population whilst relieving the burden on healthcare systems in HK and neighbouring areas. 

Greater Bay Area (GBA) Smart City technology venture investment involved Chinachem Group pumping US$100m to promote smart city technology application in GBA, accelerating digital development and collaboratively promoting the building of new smart cities in the region. 

Under Donald Choi, Chinachem Group gave back by donating to many COVID-19 charity initiatives and other donation drives such as Urban Climb, where the company donated HK$3.8m for spinal cord injury relief following a paraplegic’s daredevil climb of Nina Tower. No layoffs and no pay cuts occurred in the company despite the pandemic ravaging the industry.

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