Taking a design-driven approach to real estate, this Hong Kong-based company is on a mission is to grow local neighbourhoods by infusing them with developments that involve and inspire their communities. Here, Co-founder Alex Bent tells us about what’s on the cards for the next couple of years.
Yat Fu Lane, as envisaged by Fearon Hay
District15 is named after Western District – Hong Kong’s 15th district out of a total of 18. Its name stems from the fact that its founders, Alexander Bent and Dinesh Nihalchand, have long had their eyes on property in this area.
“We try to use different designers from around the world and from Hong Kong. We try to reposition assets we think are interesting and in areas that we think are interesting,” says Bent.
The first property they launched with was the design-led services apartments, Kush, on Hollywood Road. While they are no longer involved with Kush, their attention still remains on Sai Ying Pun, with Warehouses on West newly launched on Connaught Road West – a series of warehouse spaces that can function as offices, galleries, F&B spaces and more. Most will be leased to tenants – some already are – but one will stay as a pop-up space for parties, exhibitions and other events. “It’s taken us five years, but we’ve finally consolidated the whole thing. We finished demolition in March, and we’re leasing a number of spaces on the strip,” says Bent. “With Warehouses 4-7, we’ve redone the façade but we’re leaving the inside as it is so that the tenant can do it up the way they want to.”
Also in Western District is Yat Fu Lane, in a side lane off Queen’s Road West, in Shek Tong Tsui. At around 20,000 square feet, the development will be a mix of lifestyle and creative restaurant, office and retail tenants, and once again, it’s design-led. Bent and Nihalchand are working with New Zealand architects Fearon Hay to put together an open, light-filled space that invites the eye in thanks to its glass façade and spiral staircase that will run through every floor. Fearon Hay’s style is very simple in nature and very minimalist,” says Bent.
The aim with Yat Fu Lane, as with many of District15’s other properties, is to become part of the neighbourhood, to fit in and to enhance the area around it.
Supporting the local community is also part of District15’s approach – and it’s something that shines through with the soon-to-open Tribute Hotel on Shanghai Street. Located in Yau Ma Tei, the hotel is not in Western District, but at the same time, it’s a similarly up-and-coming neighbourhood.
Bent and Nihalchand collaborated with a host of Hong Kong designers, creative and entrepreneurs to give the hotel a detailed narrative that speaks to the local culture. Hong Kong-based firm Spawton Architecture were project architects on Tribute Hotels, turning an office building into a beautiful boutique hotel with striking concrete, glass and steel exteriors.
Meanwhile Candace Campos of ID Interiors & Design – the brains behind the design for Hong Kong F&B spaces NEO, NOM, Tate and Fatty Crab – was responsible for the interiors. The rooms are compact but fresh and warm, with herringbone wood floors and a mix of contemporary and vintage furnishings. Brass elements and metal pieces powder-coated in black, such as lamps and clothes racks, pay tribute to Yau Ma Tei’s famous theatre; while green terrazzo tiles recall the local cha chaan teng diners.
Other collaborators include the team behind EDIT on Hollywood Road, “they did our uniforms,” says Bent, while Latitude 22N did a set of ceramics for the hotel. The ceramics – along with clothing, homewares and accessories, all by Hong Kong designers – are available for sale on the Tribute Hotels Community site.
Warehouses on West
Yat Fu Lane