HONG KONG: Hong Kong's Festival Walk shopping mall is working towards either a partial or full opening by March next year, after it suffered extensive damage during protests last month.
"All efforts are being made to re-open the mall as soon as possible," said the manager of Singapore-listed Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (MNACT) on Wednesday (Dec 4). MNACT owns the shopping mall.
"We are working closely with our consultants and contractors to re-open, either partially or fully, in the first quarter of calendar year 2020," it added.
Festival Walk has been closed since Nov 13 after groups of protesters stormed the upmarket shopping mall in Kowloon Tong, setting fire to the Christmas tree in the atrium and smashing glass panels at entrances to the property, including the office lobby and balustrades on various levels of the mall.
"Major recovery and repair works" will have to be done on multiple levels of the mall, including the glass entrances, glass curtain walls, a portion of the skylight, escalators, lifts, and glass balustrades along the common area, the manager said.
Repair and replacement works are also expected to continue after it re-opens, MNACT said.
Rent will not be collected from Festival Walk's retail tenants for as long as the mall remains closed, the manager said.
RENT NOT COLLECTED FROM OFFICE TENANTS DURING CLOSURE
During the closure of the office tower from Nov 13 to 25, rent was also not collected from office tenants, it added.
Rental collection resumed after the office tower reponed on Nov 26.
"While the loss of retail and office revenue as well as property damage are covered under the insurance policies, the assessment of the quantum of revenue loss and property damage recoverable by insurance claims is currently underway and the timing of receiving the claims has yet to be determined," the manager said.
IMPACT ON MNACT'S DISTRIBUTION POLICY
Units in MNACT - which generates about 62 per cent of its net property income from Hong Kong - has dropped about 6 per cent since before Festival Walk was damaged on Nov 12.
MNACT warned on Wednesday that subject to the quantum of revenue loss recoverable, its second-half distribution per unit is expected to be significantly lower than the same period a year earlier.
Increasingly violent demonstrations have disrupted Hong Kong for nearly six months, battering its retail and tourism sector and plunging its economy into recession for the first time in a decade.
Hong Kong's retail sales fell the most on record in October, sinking 24.3 per cent from a year earlier, government data showed on Monday. Tourist arrivals plunged nearly 44 per cent.
The new figures will extend the technical recession recorded last quarter, with the government preparing to release a fourth round of economic stimulus.
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