Yen Dack Land Investment (仁德置業)

York Lo: Yen Dack Land Investment (仁德置業)

Yen Dack Land Investment Image 1 York Lo

Article about Yen Dack Land in 1962 with sketch of Yen Dack Building (WKYP, 1962-9-19)

Yen Dack Land Investment is one of the lesser known developers which has developed many buildings in Hong Kong with the character “Yen” in its names since the 1960s.

Yen Dack Land Investment Image 2 York Lo

Left: wedding picture of Chan Kwong-dew and Gwendolyn Ho at the St Margaret Church in Happy Valley in 1965 (WKYP, 1965-5-12); Right: Chan Kwong-dew and Seaker Chan on a 19th century fire engine in Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1965 during their visit to the US at the invitation of the State Department to research neighborhood associations. Seaker was on the left while Kwong-dew and his new wife Gwen and mother in law Mrs. Alfred Ho were on the right (WKYP, 1965-7-8)

Incorporated in 1960, Yen Dack operated out of 57 Wing Lok Street in Sheung Wan in the 1960s and its founder and chairman of Yen Dack was Chan Kwong-dew (陳廣就), a native of Kaiping in Guangdong province who was the eldest son of Chan Yu (陳宇), a Chinese community leader in Canada.  Aside from Yen Dack, Chan also operated Kar Wa & Co (嘉華置業) out of the same office address and a Chan Yee-yen associated with Hop Fung Investment Co Ltd. (合豐置業, renamed Hop Fung Construction (合豐建築) in 1973) was also attached to the same address who might be affiliated with Yen Dack based on the spelling of his name. (HK Government Gazette, 1969). Chan Kwong-dew’s wedding notice in 1965 also listed him as the owner of the popular Honolulu Coffee Shop (檀島冰室 now known as檀島咖啡) in HK and Kowloon. The chain is currently owned by the family of Yeung Jin-hei (楊展熙, 1933-2013) who attribute Yeung as the founder but that does not make sense as he would have been only 7 years old when the chain was founded in 1940.

In 1965, Chan Kwong-dew married Gwendolyn Ho (何嫣), a graduate of HKU and University of Edinburgh who was working for the Social Welfare department at the time. Ho is the daughter of Alfred S.U. Ho (何少庵), the longtime English secretary of Wah Kiu Yat Po and treasurer of the Newspaper Society of HK and sister of architect Edward Ho Sing-tin SBS OBE JP (何承天), who had served on the Legislative Council from 1991 to 2000 representing the architectural, surveying and planning constituency. (WKYP, 1965-5-12) This was not Chan’s first marriage as other articles indicate that he had children studying in Canada even back in the 1950s. (WKYP, 1958-8-21)

Outside of business, Chan was very active in community affairs in the 1950s to 1970s, having served as vice chairman of the North Point Kaifong Welfare Association and chairman of the Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce and was elected chairman of the Sze Yup Industrial & Commercial Society in 1978.

Yen Dack Tak Shun Yuen (2)

Yen Dack’s ad for Waterloo Heights Garden in 1963 (WKYP, 1963-10-8)

Some of Yen Dack’s earliest projects were Hoi Kwok (海角唐樓) in Tai Kok Tsui, Yen On Building (仁安大樓) at 28-30 Ma Tau Chung Road and Yen Wo Building (仁和大樓) at 41-43 Tam Kung Road in To Kwa Wan. In 1962, Yen Dack developed its namesake 20-story Yen Dack Building (仁德大廈) at 93-113 Chun Yeung Street in North Point and flats were selling for $30000-45000 each. (FEER) In 1963-65, Yen Dack developed Waterloo Heights Garden (德信園) on Waterloo Road in conjunction with Chen Hsin Co Ltd (仁信有限公司) and the architect S.S. Chien (錢湘壽), one of the few buildings developed by the firm which did not include the word “Yen” in its name. (See above ad)

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Two ads of Yen Dack in the early 1970s – Left: article and sketch of Yen Lok Building in 1971 (WKYP, 1971-5-6); Right: sketch of Yen Ning Building in 1970 (WKYP, 1970-4-16)

In 1970, Yen Dack developed the 24-story Yen Ning Building (仁寧大廈) at 100-102 Ting On Street in Kwun Tong, with flats selling for $30000-80000 each and available for 12-year mortgage provided by HK Buildings & Loans. This was followed by Yen Lok Building (仁樂大廈) at 4-12 Lin Shing Road in Chai Wan in 1971 which had flat starting at $27000 each (or $60 per square feet). In 1978, Yen Dack developed Yen Yee Mansion (仁儀苑) at 29-33 Soares Avenue in Ho Man Tin.

Yen Dack Land Investment Image 4 York Lo

Left: article and sketch of Yen Che Building in 1982 (WKYP, 1982-8-11); Right: Chan Kwong-dew addressing the staff and teachers of the Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School as supervisor of the school in 1981 (WKYP, 1981-9-16)

By the 1980s, Yen Dack had moved its offices to the HK Commercial Bank Building at 120-126 Des Voeux Road Central. In 1980, the firm developed Yen Kwong Mansion (仁光大廈) at 314-316 Tung Chow Street in Sham Shui Po. In 1982, the firm developed the 10-story Yen Che Building (仁智大廈) at 27-31 Kowloon City Road in To Kwa Wan with shops on the first two floors.

Yen Dack Yen Kwong (2)

Yen Dack’s ad for Yen Kwong Mansion in 1980 (WKYP, 1980-2-4)  

In 1984, Yen Dack developed the 20-story Yen Men Building (仁文大廈) at 98-108 Jaffe Road in Wanchai, with four flats ranging from 344-382 sq ft in size on each floor and starting at HK$250,000 per flat. (WKYP, 1984-7-18). In 1986, the firm developed Yen Oi Garden (仁愛苑) at 9-15 Po Tak Street in the Mid-Levels with 517 sq ft flat selling fo $400,000 ($800 per sq ft, which was cheaper than the average $1200-1300 in the Mid-Levels at the time) and available for mortgage with 20% down and monthly payments of $2000. (WKYP, 1986-1-22)

In addition to the buildings mentioned above, there are at least a dozen buildings with “Yen” (rather unique spelling as it is usually spelled “Yan”) in its names in HK which were likely developed by Yen Dack (to be verified) including Yen Yuen Building (仁苑大廈) and Yen Fu Mansion (仁富大廈)  in Kwun Tong, , Yen Kit Building (仁傑大廈) and Yen Chun Mansion (仁俊大廈)  in Yaumatei, Yen Ya Building (仁雅大廈) in Kwai Chung, Yen Fook Building (仁福大廈) in Sai Ying Pun,Yen Li Mansion (仁禮大廈) in Sham Shui Yen Ching Building (仁正大廈) in Ap Lei Chau, Yen Ying Building (仁英大廈) in Wanchai, Yen Shing Mansion (仁勝大廈) in Aberdeen, Po, Yen Tsui Gardens (仁翠苑) in Yuen Long, and Yen Wai Garden (仁蕙苑) in Tsuen Wan.

This article was first posted on 28th August 2020.

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