theDesk likes to do things properly and be a good neighbour. So we met our landlord in Causeway Bay, the legendary Hysan. We learned about what makes Hysan unique in the district and how they are working hard to enhance the environment for shoppers and businesses alike.
I stood in the lift lobby of Lee Gardens One, looking around at the opulent surroundings and wondering what to expect from the interview. After all, Hysan is a legend among Hong Kong developers. Deeply rooted in the Causeway Bay neighbourhood.We met on the 50th floor, taking in the staggering view across the district towards the harbour and The Peak.
A unique relationship
“What makes Hysan so unique?” I ask Mark Tung, General Manager of Corporate Communications.”Basically, I’d say it’s our history, he replies. “We’ve been here for close to 100 years. Very few developers in town have the opportunity to hold a portfolio in one district for so long.”
Looking at other key commercial areas, such as Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, it’s clear that no single developer stands out as being the heart and soul of the community.
But history can’t be the only reason. Given Hong Kong’s rapid pace of change and development, there must be other ways that Hysan differentiates itself from many other landlords.
“We have always believed in the term sustainability. Even before the term was coined by anyone.”
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Hysan has always had a long-term vision for the area. They feel a responsibility to sustain and enhance the neighbourhood for the benefit of tenants, residents and the thousands of people who come to work, shop, dine and enjoy themselves.
“If we keep it nice we will get the right kinds of tenants to come – like theDesk,” says Mark. “Quality tenants means having a quality community,” Mark says.
And we couldn’t agree more. As the new kid in the district, theDesk is bringing its unique brand of co-working to the district, bringing people together to form valuable and lasting relationships. It appears that Hysan’s vision is similar.
A sustainable neighbourhood
Sustainability can mean many things. Preparing for our meeting, I discovered that the developer received the prestigious LEED Platinum green building certification for the design, construction and management of its flagship Hysan Place.
“Even for our existing buildings in Lee Gardens we have achieved BEAM Plus Platinum standard,” explains Jessica Yip, Director, Office and Residential. “It is quite rare for an existing building to achieve that level of sustainability, and we have invested a lot into the building systems to achieve that.”
Jessica feels that Hysan have to do things right and to do things better. Competition from other landlords in this vibrant, eclectic district drives them to go the extra mile to achieve that.
“We are not the only developer in this area. We also have other landlords who compete with us to make it better. It’s one of the reasons we have to improve ourselves so that our tenants want to choose us.”
More than work
Enthusiasm and commitment towards building a sustainable and dynamic, inclusive community is something Hysan and theDesk share. But it’s not all about work and business.
“It’s good to be here from nine till five, but it’s even better to be here after five.”
“This is our slogan,” Kitty Choy, Director, Retail and Marketing, tells me, “It’s something we put into practice. People come here to work. But after work, you have a lot to enjoy; entertainment, food, everything.”
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Taking the initiative
Hysan’s demonstrates its commitment to the people and the place through the many initiatives they have introduced in recent years.
“It’s why we created the Lee Garden Plus membership programmes,” says Jessica, “so that tenants, staff and retailers can come together and create a community. It’s quite rare in other landlords portfolios,” she suggests.
Hysan has also made a splash by sponsoring major events such as the CX HSBC Rugby Sevens and Standard Chartered Bank’s Night Parade for the past two years.
“We have put on huge street carnivals. Take the Rugby Sevens Fan Walk, for example, people enjoyed themselves on the way up to the stadium and could even get a beer before you reached the stadium,” says Mark.
The commitment doesn’t end there. “Causeway Bay is incredibly vibrant,” says Mark. “But there are things that can be improved to take it even further. For example, traffic and pedestrian flow”
Hysan is constantly seeking ways to delight visitors. Recently, they submitted applications to construct pedestrian footbridges. “It’s something that a lot of people have been talking about for quite a long time so that people can walk from one end to the other without getting wet,” explains Mark.
Hysan has even been in talks with the government on the feasibility of moving some traffic underground by constructing tunnels. And the new Lee Gardens 3 building provides an extra 200 parking spaces. People can leave their cars and start walking around with less hassle. What’s more, Hysan’s apps give real-time updates on the availability of parking spaces, reducing the stress for visitors arriving by car.
“We want to find solutions that can tackle problems. We have the determination to do it.”
These large-scale projects will inevitably take time to achieve. But it says a great deal about Hysan’s long-term vision that they are prepared to take on challenging initiatives. “There are a lot of hurdles for us to get through. We will try our best to get through those. We’re not doing it simply. We want to find solutions that can tackle problems. We have the determination to do it,” says Mark.
Hysan x theDesk
I am interested to know how Hysan views theDesk. Let’s face it, we both provide space for work and to bring people together. Even though our styles and cultures differ, there is overlap in the services we both provide.
“When dealing with theDesk, as a co-working and events company, not only do we rent you space, we proactively come out to talk to you. And we want to do things with you because you’re building a community. We’re more than happy to go out and help you in anyway that is suitable. We really do take that extra step,” explains Mark.
Jessica explains how Hysan sees the value theDesk can bring, with our inclusive community ethos. “You are very enthusiastic about building up the community,” she says, “and all parties can have a win-win situation.”
Kitty sees how both companies can leverage resources for the good of the neighbourhood, “We often use the word leverage,” she says. “It’s about how we leverage our resources, no matter who the tenant is.”
“You will have a lot of different members in your spaces, with people from various industries and from everywhere in Hong Kong. We hope more people will come to Causeway Bay and know our offices and retail facilities, and discover the events and activities we create for the general public.”
“Hysan has been doing a lot of things for the local community and we want more people to discover what we do and build up that reputation,” Jessica explains.
Reputation is everything. Hysan is more than a company that just rents office and retail space. For example, did you know that Hysan has an Urban Farm on the roof of Hysan Place?
As the conversation came to an end, I wanted to know what impression Hysan would like our members and neighbours to have. “We see ourselves as part of the community,” says Kitty. “A kind of integration.”
“And I hope your members can understand our long-term commitment to this area,” continues Jessica.
For Mark, it’s about people. “We held a tennis carnival on Pak Sha Road, with some game stalls and attractions for kids and families,” he recalls, “and I took one of the most interesting photos I’ve ever taken in this neighbourhood. Kids were lining up to play in the mini tennis court, and behind them, we see the neon lights and signs. It genuinely was like a carnival. It tells you so much about what Causeway Bay is about. A hodgepodge of everything.”
I left our meeting and took the lift to the ground floor with a sense of excitement about becoming part of this living, evolving district. Hysan’s vision is broad and long term, built on the desire to do what is best for people who live, work and play in the neighbourhood. And theDesk is rather lucky to have the opportunity to play a role in that story, working with our members and neighbours to take things to a whole new level.