Peter Lam Kam Seng, who heads the government-owned Macau Urban Renewal Limited, said on Monday he expects the government’s “home swap” housing project, which will be built on the plot where the ill-fated Pearl Horizon residential project is located, to be completed in “several years”.
Lam made the remarks during a press conference at the Government Service Centre in Areia Preta which briefed the media about the ongoing application process for Pearl Horizon pre-sale buyers to apply to buy a unit in the “home swap” project on the Pearl Horizon plot.
Macau Urban Renewal Limited, a newly-established company fully owned by the government, launched the application process for the purchase of the “home swap” units by Pearl Horizon pre-sale buyers on June 17. The application process will end on August 16.
According to previous announcements by the company, the company is running the application procedure in two phases with the aim of making the process smoother. The company has commissioned the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) to assist in the application process.
Pre-sale buyers who want to buy a “home swap” unit will have to file their applications at the designated service counters on the ground floor of the Government Service Centre which is run by the bureau.
The company is running a dedicated website providing the pre-sale buyers with details on the application procedure. During the first phase of the application process which ended on Friday, eligible buyers could submit their applications at the respective time slots allocated for different pre-sale buyers based on the Pearl Horizon units they bought. The time slots could be checked on the dedicated website. Those who were unable to file their applications during the first phase can submit their applications during the second phase which runs from Monday until August 16. Those who fail to apply during the two-month period will be disqualified from buying one.
The ill-fated Pearl Horizon residential project has been mothballed since December 2015 when its 25-year provisional land concession expired. The government then announced the annulment of the site’s provisional land concession in January 2016. The project’s developer – Polytex – then sued the government over the land concession’s cancellation. Since then, dozens of disgruntled pre-sale buyers have held a string of protest rallies and repeatedly petitioned the government over their plight.
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 first announced its proposed solution to the long-running Pearl Horizon row during a press conference at that time, in which it said that it would repossess the plot where the abandoned Pearl Horizon project is located and that it planned 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 and took effect later that month. 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 that apparently aims to solve the long-running Pearl Horizon row.
The law states that temporary housing estates and “home swap” housing estates are to be built by the entity tasked with the city’s urban renewal process – Macau Urban Renewal Limited that was established earlier this year.
During Monday’s press conference, Lam urged those who want to buy a “home swap” unit but did not apply during the first phase to file their applications before the deadline of the second phase, reiterating that the company will not accept any applications after the deadline of August 16.
Lam said that his company received 1,686 applications during the first phase, adding that the number was higher than what the company had expected for the first phase. “The company is satisfied with the number,” Lam said.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Lam reiterated that after his company knows how many Pearl Horizon pre-sale buyers have submitted their applications following the completion of the application process, it will start to plan and design the “home swap” project on the plot in Areia Preta district, officially known as plot “P”.
Lam said that he hoped that his company will be able to come up with a concrete plan on the construction of the project by the end of this year, and complete the design and construction of the project within several years.