Thanks again to Chris, our friend in Hong Kong, who checks in frequently with new info on progress in Macau. Keep reading after the jump to get the latest on everyone's favorite S.A.R.
Updates on the Sands, Galaxy, Cotai, the condo market and more.
* There is simply no way that Crown Macau will open on April 28 as announced. There are just too many parts of the building that appear nowhere close to completion for them to finish both the building and the interior fit-out to a high degree of quality, train staff, iron out any wrinkles and be ready to open and operate to a self-proclaimed "6 star" standard in 3 and a half months. The end of Q2 is also very ambitious.
* They are still at the piling / foundation stage for City of Dreams.
* Other than the Four Seasons site (which seems to now be moving beyond foundation work to the early stages of structural work), progress on the other LVS sites still appears to be negligible.
* I hear that there will be a second tower at Galaxy Starworld identical to the first tower, to be built in the space immediately behind the first tower. Foundation work is already well-advanced.
* The main floor of the Sands was absolutely heaving with people when we visited at about 2pm on Saturday. It was impossible to walk through some areas there were so many people. The Sands hotel tower is now roughly 30 stories high.
* Apartment prices in Macau continue to rise. In Taipa, prices of remaining apartments at "The Manhattan" (by far the best quality development in Taipa – and perhaps the only international standard development to date, though only small in scale with 175 apartments) range from roughly US$385 to US$500 per square foot depending on the floor. They are holding back on sales of the "south tower" - wouldn't be surprised if the whole block is sold to a fund.
* New mass-produced and decidedly average apartments nearby (ie, those at the Shun Tak "Nova Taipa" development) are selling for an average of around US$300 psf. On the Macau peninsula, there is almost nothing new selling for less than US$250 psf, with prices for new decent quality apartments generally ranging from US$250 to around US$400 psf.
* At the top end of the residential property market, "One Central" (which will be adjacent to MGM Grand, but not scheduled for completion until late 2009) is selling for up to US$800 psf and some agents firmly believe that prices in the secondary market (yes, there is a strong secondary market for yet-to-be-completed apartments) could reach HK$10,000 or roughly US$1300 psf this year. This is likely to be the most relevant benchmark used by LVS when it commences sales of its own apartments. Apart from The Manhattan, there are no new residential developments due for completion in Taipa prior to the opening of Crown and the Venetian, so it probably isn't a stretch for LVS to look towards the high end of its price expectations when it starts sales (in their investor presentations they have pegged US$1400 as the high end).
* Am wondering what's going to happen to the existing Mandarin Oriental once the new Mandarin Oriental (part of the "Once Central" development) opens in 2009. Stanley Ho owns the current Mandarin Oriental, and it sits on a prime site right next to the Sands.