Hong Kong billionaire to build $1.4 billion cultural complex on China’s Shenzhen coast

42-year-old Hong Kong billionaire, art collector and property developer, Adrian Cheng, plans unveiled this week to open a vast cultural and commercial complex in mainland China.

Called K11 ECOAST, the development is said to be worth $1.4 billion and span over 2.4 million square feet. Located on the waterfront of Shenzhen, a rapidly growing region in southeast China, the complex is slated to open in 2024 and house a multi-use arts, 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 centers by 2035. This aligns with the lofty ambitions of the billionaire developer to make K11 ECOAST the new creative cultural benchmark in the Greater Bay Area.

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

A year prior, the real estate scion had taken over the development of his family’s new world with the intention of steering the establishment in a different direction, imbuing luxury residential properties with works commissioned from artists and artisans.

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

In 2019, Cheng took his distinctive blend of art and retail to a whole new level with the $2.6 billion redevelopment of Victoria Dockside on Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, with his main highlight K11 MUSEA.

Double “the Silicon Valley of culture” by its founder, K11 MUSEA best exemplifies Cheng’s approach of bringing arts and culture to life – 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 partner with a wide range of leading artists and architects for K11 ECOAST. British architect David Chipperfield along with the OMA of Rem Koolhaas and Sou Fujimoto from Japan were brought in to work on the huge complex. Works by artists from China and other parts of the world will be featured in various spaces at K11 ECOAST, with British artist Phyllida Barlow and Polish artist Monika Sosnowska in the lineup.

James C. Tibbs