Times Square (Chinese: 時代廣場) is a major shopping centre and office tower complex in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong.
The complex, owned by Wharf Properties Limited, part of The Wharf (Holdings) Limited group, was opened in April 1994.History
The site was previously occupied by the original tram depot of the Hong Kong Tramways, another of the Wharf's subsidiary operations acquired in 1974. The Executive Council approved Tramways' plan to relocate its depots to Sai Wan Ho and Sai Ying Pun in July 1986, on the argument that the HK$3.5 million in operating costs savings would allow for tram fares to be held down.
The area was predominantly residential, and the Town Planning Board insisted that the project did not include any more residential space. In July 1987, Wharf unveiled draft plans to redevelop the site into 1,600,000-square-foot (148,600 m2) of office and retail space. Following the relocation of Wanchai depot, the site was surrendered to its associate in 1988.
In 1991, the concrete plans were announced: the project would create 186,000 m² of retail and office complex, an estimated construction cost of HK$ 2 billion.
At the time, this part of Wanchai/Causeway Bay was deemed "not a very attractive part of town". The developer's debt levels and the uncertainty over sovereignty also rendered project financing more problematic. Now it is considered prime property in the heart of Causeway Bay.Project configuration
The project consists of 83,700 m² of retail space, and two office towers with 102,300 m² of accommodation.Shopping mall
Times Square is considered the first of its kind, the first "vertical mall" in Hong Kong. Due to the high land price in Hong Kong, and the higher yield on retail property, Times Square departs from the common western model of the flat shopping mall. The space allocated to retail is configured over 9 stories. The mall and lifts to the office tower are accessible by long escalators linking the ground floor podium and the first level of the mall.Office buildings
It is common practise for owners to allow naming buildings after its important tenants and giving illusion of ownership. The entire complex remains owned by Wharf, but western and eastern office towers of the complex have been named "Shell Tower" and "Tower One" respectively.Public open space controversy
Under the terms of a Deeds of Dedication signed with the Government, 3,010 square metres (32,400 sq ft) of the ground floor was set aside for public access, pedestrian passage and passive recreation. However, the company has the right to organise exhibitions there, and charge fees. The exact details of the concessions to the developers were not made public.
Between July 2003 and March 2005, a corner of the piazza was leased to Starbucks Coffee. The company claimed it was an "unintentional oversight" that was quickly corrected after notification was received from the Buildings Department.
In 2008, controversy was again sparked following complaints that private security guards attempted to stop people lingering in the public area, and building management apologised for their "over-zealous" guards. Since then, there has been a wider campaign in Hong Kong to re-examine provisions for public open space, and the government quid pro quo with property developers. Alan Leong lamented the poor quality of some of Hong Kong's public open spaces, and said he hoped that a Legco review would result in a "more transparent and predictable system".
The Secretary for Justice, filed a writ in the High Court on behalf of the Government against Times Square Ltd and its parent company Wharf Group, seeking to recover rental fees of as much as HK$124,000 a day for use of the Causeway Bay piazza dating back to 1993. Commentators describe it as a landmark lawsuit which may have significant implications for other property owners if it is successful.
The company believes that it has not charged more than what is allowed in the deed, but welcomed the case saying it would ultimately provide for guidance on the proper interpretation of the relevant clauses in the deed of dedication concerned.Transport
Times Square is served by the MTR's Causeway Bay station. There is an underground passage which directly links the building, and an exit, coined "A1" opens into the ground floor podium level.
It is also accessible by tram in the direction to Happy Valley or Shau Kei Wan.
Minibus 40 heading towards Stanley.Cultural reference
The Times Square Marketplace Mall was featured in the 2003 film Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life where a department store that is marked as 'closed for renovation' is secretly hiding a biological weapons production plant.Christmas and New Year celebrations
Mirroring its namesake in New York City, the plaza in front of the building is one of two main gathering points, along with the harbour, for Western New Year celebrations in Hong Kong. In the hours leading up to 00:00 on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, the area is packed with revellers waiting for the midnight countdown.See Also
- List of tallest buildings in Hong Kong