Macau Urban Renewal Limited, a fully government-owned company tasked with the city’s urban renewal process, announced on Wednesday that 90.8 per cent of the Pearl Horizon pre-sale buyers who are eligible to buy a unit in its “home swap” housing project, which will be built on the plot where the ill-fated residential project is located, have filed their applications during the two-month application period which ended in the middle of last month.
Peter Lam Kam Seng, who chairs the company’s board of directors, made the announcement during a press conference at the Government Service Centre in Areia Preta which briefed the media about the ongoing assessments of the submitted applications and the upcoming development of the “home swap” project on the Pearl Horizon plot.
Lam also said that his company was now striving to complete the detailed construction plan of the “home swap” project and then obtain the construction permit from the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) within six months to get the project off the ground. Lam also said that his company expected the construction of the project to take three years.
Macau Urban Renewal Limited, which was established earlier this year, launched the application process for the purchase of the “home swap” units by Pearl Horizon pre-sale buyers on June 17 and ended on August 16. The company had commissioned the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) to assist in the application process. Pre-sale buyers wanting to buy a “home swap” unit had to file their applications during the two-month period at the Areia Preta Government Service Centre which is run by the bureau.
Nearly 2,000 applications
Lam said that the Municipal Affairs Bureau received 1,932 applications during the application period. Lam said that among the 1,932 applications, his company has accepted 1,716 applications and suspended the assessments of the remaining 216 applications.
The 216 applications have been suspended as these pre-sale buyers have filed lawsuits against the government for compensation based on the government’s cancellation of the Pearl Horizon site’s provisional land concession, Lam pointed out.
According to Lam, the possible resumptions of the assessments of the 216 applications would depend on the outcomes of the respective lawsuits. If a pre-sale buyer wins the lawsuit, he or she will then be disqualified from buying a “home swap” unit. If a pre-sale buyer loses the lawsuit, the assessment of his or her application will then be resumed, Lam said.
Lam noted that 2,128 Pearl Horizon pre-sale buyers were eligible to buy a “home swap” unit, showing that 90.8 per cent — the 1,932 received applications — of them have filed their applications.
Lam also said that in addition to the 1,932 applications, 12 pre-sale buyers have directly submitted their applications to his company in sealed letters. Lam said that his company has rejected the 12 applications as the 12 pre-sale buyers did not formally register the property ownership of the units they purchased from the developer.
Mothballed since 2015
The ill-fated Pearl Horizon residential project has been mothballed since December 2015 when its 25-year provisional land concession expired. The government then annulled the site’s provisional land concession in January 2016. The project’s developer — Polytex — then sued the government over the land concession’s cancellation.
Based on a ruling by the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) in May last year which turned down the project developer’s appeal against the government’s cancellation of the site’s provisional land concession, the government then announced its proposed solution to the long-running Pearl Horizon row – repossessing the Pearl Horizon plot and planning to develop a “home swap” housing project on the site with some of the project’s units to be set aside for Pearl Horizon pre-sale buyers to purchase.
In order to get the “home swap” project on the Pearl Horizon plot off the ground, the government last year proposed a bill on its temporary housing and “home swap” schemes for residents affected by the future urban renewal process. The bill was passed article-by-article in its final reading by the legislature in April this year. While the law is about regulating the development of the government’s temporary housing and “home swap” housing projects in general, it includes a specific article – Article 12 – that apparently aims to solve the long-running Pearl Horizon row.
Article 12 of the law states that pre-sale buyers of private residential projects that were initially to be built on sites whose provisional land concessions expired so that the buildings could not be constructed are also eligible to buy “home swap” units. However, according to Article 12 of the law, only presale buyers who have registered the property ownership of the units they purchased from the developer are eligible to buy a “home swap” unit.
Article 12 also states that if presale buyers of private residential projects who were affected by the government’s cancellation of the respective sites’ provisional land concession file lawsuits against the government for compensation, they are still eligible to apply for a “home swap” unit, but the assessments of their applications will be suspended before a court’s ruling on each case. The article states that if the pre-sale buyer wins the lawsuit, in which case the government will have to pay compensation, he or she shall then be disqualified from buying a “home swap” unit.
The Pearl Horizon plot in Areia Preta district, officially known as plot “P”, covers an area of 68,000 square metres.
Lam also reaffirmed that the “home swap” housing project to be built on plot “P” will be designed and built in line with the standards of private residential buildings. Lam revealed that his company plans that the “home swap” housing estate will include car parks and a clubhouse.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Lam also revealed that the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau has already issued the draft version of the proposed legal development conditions for the Pearl Horizon plot. Lam said that the bureau has asked his company for a discussion on the proposed legal development conditions.