Hong Kong billionaire to build $1.4bn cultural complex on the coast of China’s Shenzhen

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The 42-year-old Hong Kong billionaire, art collector and real estate developer, Adrian Cheng, revealed plans this week to open an expansive cultural-retail complex in mainland China.

Called K11 ECOAST, the development is reportedly worth $1.4bn and will span more than 2.4 million sq. ft. Located at the waterfront of Shenzhen, a fast-growing region in southeastern China, the complex is slated to open in 2024 and house a multi-purpose art space, office building and promenade.

Jointly developed by Cheng’s New World Development Company Limited in Hong Kong and China Merchants Shekou Holdings in Shenzhen, the seaside project is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to develop the country’s Greater Bay Area, comprising nine southern states, such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, into arts and business hubs by 2035. This aligns with the billionaire developer’s lofty ambitions of making K11 ECOAST the new creative cultural benchmark of the Greater Bay Area.

The upcoming complex is not Cheng’s first real estate foray in China. The art collector, featured on ArtReview’s Power 100 list since 2014, launched K11 in 2008: a slew of malls in Hong Kong and mainland China bringing together art and commerce by hosting large scale exhibitions in spaces around the stores. One of its first ventures was Shanghai K11 Art Mall, which opened in June 2013, according to the company website.

A year prior, the real estate scion took over his family’s New World Development with plans to steer the establishment into a different direction, by imbuing luxury residential properties with commissioned works from artists and craftsmen.

In a city heavily reliant on finance and real estate for its growth, New World Development is reportedly one of Hong Kong’s five largest builders, all owned by Hong Kong’s wealthiest families, totaling a $125bn fortune, a third of the city’s GDP.

In 2019, Cheng took his particular blend of art and retail to a whole new level with the $2.6bn redevelopment of Victoria Dockside on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong, featuring its main highlight K11 MUSEA.

Dubbed “the Silicon Valley of culture” by its founder, K11 MUSEA best exemplifies Cheng’s approach of bringing arts and culture—installations, exhibitions, pop-up events and film screenings featuring acclaimed local and international creatives—to a one-stop retail and lifestyle destination.

Similar to his approach for K11 MUSEA, Cheng will be partnering with a wide range of leading artists and architects for K11 ECOAST. The UK-based architect David Chipperfield as well as Rem Koolhaas’s OMA and Sou Fujimoto from Japan have been invited to work on the massive complex. Artworks by artists from China and other parts of the world will be shown in various spaces at K11 ECOAST, with British artist Phyllida Barlow and Poland’s Monika Sosnowska in the lineup.

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