Mid-Levels apartment complex 39 Conduit Road. Photo: Google Maps

Developers are out to break records when it comes to selling luxurious homes in Hong Kong. The latest attempt is by Henderson Land (00012.HK), with an apartment complex in Mid-Levels called 39 Conduit Road.

It offered a nearly 5,000 square foot penthouse unit for HK$522 million (US$66.9 million) on Friday. In other words, Henderson is trying to sell the most expensive apartment in Asia, at a six-digit amount per square foot.

At the price of HK$105,000 per square foot, or about HK$1 million per square meter, it stands to break a record set last November by Mount Nicholson, a high-end luxury project. Nan Fung Development and Wheelock Properties shocked the market by selling a penthouse in the Peak for a record HK$912 million, or HK$104,803 per square foot.

Interestingly, 39 Conduit Road, developed by tycoon Lee Shau-kee’s Henderson Land, enticed a buyer with a nearly 3% discount and free furniture.

This project, which has recorded some of the most expensive apartment transactions in Asia, is controversial. It was acquired by Henderson Land in 2002. It had been set up by civil servants as a residential cooperative back in 1965.

When 39 Conduit Road first launched in 2009, there were no end of controversies. First, the developer marketed the top floor as the 88th while in fact it was only the 46th floor.

That was because the developer took out the inauspicious number 4 (despite Lee Shau-kee being widely known as “Uncle Four”) on every floor and 13 until the 39th floor. It named the 40th floor the 60th, the 45th floor as the 68th and the top 46th floor became the 88th.

Local media cried foul at this uncommon practice, and in the wake of the controversy, Henderson Land restored it to the original scale.

To make things worse, many of the expensive units that were priced at some HK$40,000 per square foot, at least twice as high as a neighboring complex on Conduit Road, were not completed.

A year after its initial launch, Henderson Land confirmed that only four of the 24 units had been completed, including six units purchased by a certain disc jockey for more than HK$1.16 billion.

Other buyers included tycoons from mainland China and Vietnam.

This expensive project by Henderson Land has turned low-key since then, but still occasionally makes headlines because of its aspiration to break records.

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