39 Conduit Road: the prequel

39 Conduit Road continues to be in the news. Last week it was about the reduction in the developer’s earnings because of the failed sales of 20 of 24 of the apartments there.  The sale of these 24 apartments at astronomical prices per square foot (the highest at the “auspicious” price of HK$88,000 psf) supposedly fed the rising sentiment on housing prices in Hong Kong. The failures of these sales, including the most expensive one, made the authorities suspicious, and they’re investigating.

Previously, the site was occupied by the apartment building “Rockmount.” Recently, a descendant of the owner of the original mansion “Rockymount” contacted me through HKU Press, and sent me a nice photo.

The owner of the mansion “Rockymount” was the Tyson family. George Tyson was a partner of Warren Delano Jr. and various members of the Forbes family in Shanghai Steam Navigation Company in the 1860’s.  (Forbes Street, in Kennedy Town, is named after William Howell Forbes, head partner of Russell & Co., the parent company of Shanghai Steam.)  In the 1920’s a Tyson purchased the property and, in 1960, Tyson Investment Co. was incorporated to redevelop the site with the apartment block.

In 1988 the family sold the shares of Tyson Investment Co. to a Carry Express Investment Ltd, a corporate vehicle of Henderson Land, on condition that the company’s name shall be changed.  The Tysons haven’t been involved with the property since.

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About Gillis Heller

Seattle born Gillis Heller is a long-time resident of Hong Kong, a lawyer for a public company, with a keen interest in Hong Kong history.
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