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Old July 24th, 2009, 12:42 PM   #81
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Old July 24th, 2009, 06:18 PM   #82
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Shek Mun
Source : http://www.fotop.net/nohead





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Old July 24th, 2009, 07:30 PM   #83
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Wow so pretty.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 07:39 PM   #84
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That Shek Mun development is quite good. It sits right next to the MTR station and it is not surrounded by a lot of other tall buildings. The down side is it's in an industrial area, but yet it's only a river away from City One.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 05:32 PM   #85
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The Link defends rent rises as more than 100 shopping centre tenants protest
30 July 2009
SCMP

The Link Management defended its policy on rent rises yesterday as more than 100 tenants in its shopping centres protested at charges they said were driving them out of business.

During the protest, organised by various retail groups and political parties, tenants chanted slogans and waved banners outside the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in Wan Chai where The Link was holding its annual general meeting.

After the meeting, Nicholas Sallnow-Smith, chairman of The Link Management, defended the company's strategy.

"On average, our rents are not going up tremendously fast," he said. "The Link team is dedicated to running the greatest business in Hong Kong that is constructively engaged in the local community in Hong Kong. Yet what I read in the press makes me feel you don't believe that. However, this is absolutely the case."

Chief executive Ian Robins said rents had increased by 25 per cent over the past three years - an annual rate of 8.3 per cent - which he described as "a responsible level".

The Link, a publicly listed real estate investment trust, took control of 180 shopping centres, fresh-food markets and car parks when the Housing Authority privatised the commercial spaces on public-housing estates and sold them to the company in 2005.

The Link has since implemented a series of major renovation projects in a strategy to attract more shoppers and boost profits. Rents have also gone up.

Mr Sallnow-Smith said: "If we want to be a successful business in Hong Kong, we have to be financially successful first ... then we can invest in assets, improve shopping centres and gradually improve the economy of the community."

The Link pledges to be a responsible employer, but many small retailers say they are under mounting pressure in dealing with rent rises amid a grim economy.

Lau Ma-hong, 52, who sells hardware on Lung Hang Estate in Sha Tin, said he struggled after The Link raised his monthly rent from HK$29,500 to HK$36,000 in 2007.

"Residents in our estate are getting old. Many families are receiving government financial assistance and the economy is not good, yet no matter what the market is like, The Link is set to charge us more," he said.

Pressure group The Link Watch, which joined the protest yesterday, said it surveyed 14 of The Link's shopping centres last month and found that 20 per cent of small traders had closed over the past year, and had largely been replaced by chain stores.

Fred Li Wah-ming, a Democratic Party lawmaker, said the management of The Link was ignorant of the needs of the community and only knew how to make "fast money".

He said the only way to give tenants a say was for the government to buy back control from The Link.

Last month, The Link announced a 13.75 per cent rise in earnings. It said distributable income for the year to March was HK$1.82 billion.

Mr Sallnow-Smith said The Link had earmarked HK$1.17 billion for 11 asset-enhancement projects in the next two years and HK$1.39 billion for another 11 from 2011 onwards.
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Old August 6th, 2009, 12:33 PM   #86
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STH visits Ching Ho Estate and Tin Ching Estate

The Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, today (August 3) visited Ching Ho Estate in Sheung Shui and Tin Ching Estate in Tin Shui Wai to see the living environment of new public rental housing estates, which is well supported by community facilities.

Ching Ho Estate consists of eight domestic blocks, three of which were completed in 2006 while the remaining five in 2008. It provides about 7,200 flats of various sizes with community and recreational facilities. Vertical greening of the external walls and the green rooftop of the refuse collection point at the estate had achieved very good results.

There are currently over 6,500 households in the estate. Ms Cheng visited a nuclear family to better understand their daily life. The family rented a small private unit in Sham Shui Po before moving in Ching Ho Estate last year. They told the Secretary that they were satisfied with the much-improved living environment.

Ms Cheng then visited Tin Ching Estate in Tin Shui Wai. Tin Ching Estate comprises seven domestic blocks with about 6,200 flats. Four domestic blocks were completed in 2008 while the remaining three are to be completed at the end of 2009.

Ms Cheng dropped in on a Housing Advisory and Service Team and discussed briefly with team members. The team was set up in April 2008 to help new tenants adapt to the community. Services provided by the team, including orientation briefings, outreaching, offering professional advice or counseling to new tenants and conducting home visits, were well received by the tenants.

Community service will be further improved with the completion of a six-storey amenity and community building scheduled for end-2010. More social services will be provided to the community then.

There are currently over 3,700 households in the estate. Ms Cheng visited a young couple with a small child who have been living in Tin Ching Estate for about a year. They are happy to find the estate a self-contained community with all kinds of facilities they need.

During today's visit, Ms Cheng inspected vacant flats of different sizes in the two estates. She requested the Housing Department to make available sufficient units in Ching Ho Estate and Tin Ching Estate to residents to be affected by large-scale infrastructure projects for rehousing purpose.

Government Press Release
Ends/Monday, August 3, 2009
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Old August 25th, 2009, 10:32 AM   #87
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Housing officials block short cut used by residents for 20 years
24 August 2009
South China Morning Post

For more than 20 years, residents of two Ngau Tau Kok housing estates used a path formed by their own feet as a short cut to a nearby shopping centre. According to one resident, several hundred used it every day.

So four months ago the residents of Lok Wah North and the adjacent Lok Nga Court were shocked to find high metal barriers erected at each end of the track to stop them using it.

The Housing Department, which administers Lok Wah North estate, said it had decided the 100 metre path, which had never been an authorised access route, was too dangerous. It has refused to change its mind despite a 1,500-signature petition from residents.

"The residents have been using the path for 20 years without any serious accidents," Lok Nga Court resident Cheng Chung-pong said. "Some even put stone slabs there to make the path easier to walk along, so we do not think it is dangerous at all."

Residents now have to walk a circuitous route that takes about 15 minutes compared with what was once a five-minute stroll.

"The staircase is certainly safer than the footpath," Lok Nga Court resident Leung Chiu-wah said. "But the extra time and distance it takes is unwarranted and causes much inconvenience."

Kwun Tong district councillor Wong Wai-tag, who has been campaigning to have the route reopened, said the footpath was as old as Lok Wah North estate - which took in its first residents in 1985 - and its use had been tolerated since then.

A spokeswoman for the Housing Department said the slope had always been fenced off and signs warned people against using it.

"However, some residents just climbed over the fences and formed their own short cuts for their own convenience," she said. "Those paths are not proper access and are uneven. Some residents, even including elderly people, use the paths while carrying toddlers in one hand and several bags in another. This can be very dangerous."

Mr Cheng said residents could take a service lift up to the podium but often faced delays because it was used for loading and unloading goods for the estate shopping centre.

Mr Wong said he had collected 1,500 signatures from residents during his campaign but the department had been unmoved.

The department had also dismissed, for "geotechnical" reasons, any suggestion of building a new set of steps down the slope. But the department had now agreed to look into the feasibility of opening a path of about 30 metres between the lower floor of Lok Wah North and the concrete staircase. This was prompted by an approach from the management advisory committee that demanded the original path be closed.

In the meantime, however, the blockade remains.
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Old August 30th, 2009, 09:33 AM   #88
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Thankiossk Cool!
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Old September 1st, 2009, 04:39 AM   #89
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Opinion : Link Management providing housing estate tenants with better choices
2 August 2009
South China Morning Post

Although the shopping malls and car parks of The Link Management are no longer Housing Authority properties, in the eyes of The Link's very vocal critics, its decision to introduce more chain stores and, in some cases, to not renew contracts with some small tenants, is seen as an unforgivable sin.

The Link's decisions are being made in the public interest. As a major owner of shopping malls in Hong Kong, it should be accountable to the members of the community.

The needs of the communities these malls serve are of paramount importance and take precedence over the interests of selected tenants.

I am a user of malls run by The Link [a publicly listed real estate investment trust] and I would encourage it to continue with its policy of trying to provide shoppers with variety and greater choice. It is also good that prices have been kept competitive.

The overall tenant mix has been improved over the past few years because The Link selects those businesses that its customers want to see in the malls. The choices made have evolved with shoppers' changing consumption patterns.

Critics argue that The Link Management lacks transparency. You cannot go on to the Housing Authority's website and find out how it selects its tenant mix, so why should you expect to be able to do that on The Link's website? Criticism of the company has been unreasonable.

A few months ago, in Siu Sai Wan where I live, a shop selling Chinese hot buns opened and it has proved to be very popular with residents. That's not only because of its reasonable prices and good quality, but also its convenient location. Critics of this change of business said the stationery store that was there had to close, but this is not the case. It was relocated in the neighbourhood.

There is no reason why housing estate residents should only be served by small tenants.

We are now seeing a more balanced mix of tenants, big and small, new and old.

Fighting for the continuous operation of selected "small tenants", regardless of quality or performance, is acting against the interests of the rest of the community.

David Chan, Siu Sai Wan
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Old September 7th, 2009, 07:34 PM   #90
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Job protest dogs Link bid for hands-on role
2 September 2009
The Standard

Link REIT has moved to take a more hands-on role in managing all its shopping centers and pledged to ensure job stability for the 2,900-strong staff hired by contractors tasked with looking after the malls.

Deputy general manager David Chan Tsan- fai, in announcing the on-site management initiatives yesterday, said Link REIT will hire 230 staff over the next two months as part of a more hands-on drive.

Currently, the 2,900 staff are hired by nine contractors, whose agreements to provide property management, security, cleaning and maintenance services will be terminated at the end of next month.

However, Link REIT eased job fears, saying the 2,900 staff ``will be given a job.'' The services will be retendered out under 16 new contracts that will take effect on November 1.

``We decided to make the changes to enhance service quality. We believe that better communication with our tenants, customers and the community is key to taking our service to a higher standard and better align with good market practice,'' Chan said.

Link REIT will require the contractors to provide three eight-hour shifts for security guards. Their wages and those for cleaning workers will be no less than the industry's average.

But unions were unconvinced and protested outside the venue of the press conference yesterday.

Labor-sector legislator Ip Wai-ming said at least 60 employees have been laid off at Tseung Kwan O shopping centers. In July, Link REIT was accused of firing at least 37 staff, and others were later offered lower pay at some shopping centers and car parks.

That same month, the company made moves to lengthen security guards' shifts from eight to 12 hours, without raising their wages.

In addition, five car park security heads at public housing estates in Tuen Mun were told their salaries had been cut from HK$7,000 or more to HK$6,700, well below the HK$9,783 stated in a quarterly report by the Census and Statistics Department for a security head.

Link REIT has about 180 car parks and 11 million square feet of retail space in its portfolio of prpoerties that were formerly owned by the Housing Authority.
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Old September 17th, 2009, 06:04 PM   #91
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No wastage in lift modernisation project in Kai Yip Estate
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Government Press Release





All lift cars procured for the lift modernisation project in Kai Yip Estate would fit in with the lift shafts and there was no question of wastage, a spokesman for Housing Department (HD) said today (September 17).

The lift modernisation project to replace the 27 lifts of six domestic blocks in Kai Yip Estate will be carried out in six phases. The project started in September last year and is scheduled for completion in 2011.

In response to media enquiries, the spokesman said that for technical reasons, the completion date of Phase I of the project, which involves five lifts at Kai Shing House, Kai Ning House and Kai Yin House, would be extended from end June to November this year.

For the same reason, the completion date of Phase II of the programme, which involves four lifts at Kai Cheung House and Kai Lok House, would be extended from end September to December this year.

The spokesman refuted allegations by news reports that the delay was caused by the purchase of new lift cars that did not fit in with the lift shafts.

"Lift openings will be added under the modernisation project. During inspection, it was found that the wall enclosing the lift shaft is built with reinforced concrete instead of bricks as shown in the old building record drawings. For safety reasons, it is necessary to check the structural aspect of the lift opening and submit the revised design for approval by the Independent Checking Unit of the department. This is the main cause of the delay," the spokesman explained.

The total project cost, which is estimated at $30 million, will remain unchanged.

The spokesman apologised to the affected tenants for the inconvenience caused by the delay, adding that the department would provide assistance to tenants with special needs.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 04:05 AM   #92
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Firm fined HK$5,000 over estate lift plunge
1 October 2009
South China Morning Post

The contractor responsible for maintaining a lift that plummeted 14 floors at a public housing estate was fined HK$5,000 yesterday after pleading guilty to failing to carry out repairs.

But the magistrate said the fine, the maximum that could be imposed under the law, was not big enough to reflect the gravity of the incident.

The lift dropped 14 floors to the ground minutes after its last passenger stepped out of it in Shin Nga House, on the Fu Shin Estate in Tai Po, on October 25 last year.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator (HK) was summonsed to Sha Tin Court yesterday for failing to carry out or supervise maintenance and repairs in accordance with the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance.

A report said seven of the lift's eight cables had broken and the counterweight mechanism designed to prevent such a fall was seriously corroded. The safety mechanism slowed the lift but failed to stop it.

Court documents showed that ThyssenKrupp, which took over maintenance of the lift in August last year, inspected it on August 18 and pronounced it to be in safe working order. Two workers were sent to inspect the lift again eight hours before the fall after a resident complained of an abnormality in the lift. CCTV footage showed that the workers got into the lift and rode in it, but did not carry out an inspection. The lift had been in use for 22 years.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to carry out maintenance and repairs. A second charge of failing to supervise the carrying out of the maintenance and repair of the lift was dismissed when the prosecution offered no evidence.

In mitigation, the defence said the company had since installed new counterweight pulley bearings on lifts in six residential blocks on the estate. It had informed residents of the replacement to ease their worries.

Outside court, a company spokesman said the parts replacement involved 11 lifts of the same model that plunged. Their counterweight suspension system had also been enhanced.

The defence said the two workers who failed to comply with the company's procedures and instructions on carrying out inspections were experienced and could not explain why the incident had occurred. They had since been disciplined.

Passing sentence, Acting Principal Magistrate Li Wai-chi said it was lucky that no one was hurt.

He said the maximum fine of HK$5,000 was insufficient and the ordinance was outdated.

The magistrate also said the company should not have solely relied on reports by the two workers' for information about the condition of the lifts and should have conducted counter-checks to ensure the lifts were in good condition.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 03:13 PM   #93
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Public estates to benefit from greening panels
2 November 2009
South China Morning Post



Housing officials are turning to nature to beat global warming and bring fresher air to public housing tenants - while defying the law of gravity - by growing grass and herbs on walls in housing estates.

The Housing Authority has spent HK$1 million on vertical greening on Yau Lai Estate, a public rental housing development in Kwun Tong.

Deputy director Ada Fung Yin-suen said the extra greening cost would not be recovered from tenants' management fees.

A study of the "vertical greening panels" on Yau Lai Estate Phase 4, completed this year, had demonstrated the benefits, Fung said. "An external wall mounted with plants can be cooled by 16 degrees Celsius," she said, adding that the temperature of the inside surface could stay at 26.5 degrees, or 1.5 to 3.5 degrees lower than those without vertical planting.

The department's senior architect, Clifford Cheng Chiu-yeung, said a 40 sq ft office could save 1.45 kilowatt-hours a day on air conditioning if its west-facing wall were screened. Fung said vertical greening panels used grass and herbs planted in a panel of rockwool, a kind of artificial mineral fibre. A few panels are then fitted into metal cladding that is hung on an external wall.

Chinese University biology professor Chu Lee-man, who participated in the Yau Lai Estate study, said the cooling effect could be better.

"In the [housing] unit where we conducted experiments, a flimsy door was fitted," he said. "In ordinary domestic units where more robust doors are used, and with different orientations, the cooling effect should be more significant."

Chu said a type of grass, Zoysia japonica, was tested during the study. Vertical greening panels cost between HK$5,000 and HK$6,000 per square metre.

They have also been installed on Kwai Chung Estate, Sheung Shui's Ching Ho Estate and Sau Mau Ping Estate.
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Old November 11th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #94
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彩字村項目 by fatshe :

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Old November 12th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #95
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'So Uk Retrospect - Heritage Items and Photo Exhibition' Opens
(Thursday, 05 November 2009)
Housing Authority Press Release



A vacant flat at Azalea House is redecorated with old furniture to mimic the living conditions in the old days.



Guided tours led by former So Uk residents were arranged at the Opening Ceremony (31 Oct 2009) to share the fond memories of the old days.



Jointly presented by the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) and the Salvation Army's So Uk Estate Community Service Team, an exhibition of heritage items and photographs of So Uk Estate will be open every Saturday from this Saturday (7 November 2009) until the end of Jan 2010. Members of the public are welcome to visit the exhibition and share the residents' fond memories of the beautiful, historic estate.

Two vacant shops at Azalea House in the estate have turned into exhibition galleries displaying old household items donated by former residents and photos taken by photographer Ducky Tse. A vacant flat at Azalea House has also been redecorated with old furniture to mimic the living conditions of So Uk residents in the old days.

On the first Saturday of each month during the exhibition period (i.e. November 7, December 5 and January 2), some former residents will share their interesting stories and the history of So Uk Estate, enabling visitors to learn more about the estate and its community bonds from different perspectives.

The opening ceremony of the exhibition was held at Azalea House last Saturday (31 Oct 2009). Entitled 'So Uk Retrospect' and comprising an exhibition, guided tours and modern dance performance, the event attracted over 200 former and current residents as well as the younger generation to savour the exhilarating So Uk experience before its demolition.

The modern dance performance, 'Positioning', was a meaningful initiative brought by choreographer Rick Cheung, who has spent his childhood in the estate. Six vivacious dancers took So Uk Estate as the stage to act out the residents¡¦ fond memories of the old days and their aspirations for the future.

'So Uk Retrospect - Heritage Items and Photo Exhibition' will be open to the public on every Saturday from November 2009 to end of January 2010 (except 26 December 2009) between 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Admission is free.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 04:39 PM   #96
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High prices see more rich public households
Poor people lose out after HOS suspension

16 November 2009
South China Morning Post

The Housing Authority has seen 11,000 more "rich public housing households" since it suspended the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) in 2003, an increase of 60 per cent over the past six years.

A government housing adviser put the increase down to more better-off tenants being stuck in public rental flats since the scheme was suspended, because they could not afford to buy on the mass market.

However, other observers disagreed, saying richer tenants could afford to buy private homes if they wanted. This is one of the arguments in the debate on whether the HOS should be resumed.

The number of well-off tenants is one of the indicators the South China Morning Post has used to examine the impact of suspending the HOS. Other figures analysed are the average waiting time to get a public housing flat, the number of private rental households who are eligible to buy HOS flats, the number of HOS flats put on sale every year and fluctuations in the sales of low-end flats (which sell for less than HK$2 million) on the private market.

The latest Housing Authority statistics show that the number of better-off public housing households grew from 18,000 in June 2003 to 29,000 this June. Richer households are required to pay more rent because their household income exceeds that set by the means test.

In contrast, the total number of tenants rose by only 10 per cent, up from 610,000 to 670,000 households, during the same period.

The subsidised housing scheme was launched in the late 1970s to help green-form applicants (those living in public housing or those eligible for public housing) and white-form applicants (low-income families renting private apartments) buy flats.

The scheme was suspended at the end of 2002 when the government was trying to help the ailing property market. No new HOS flats were put on the market between 2003 and 2006. Leftover flats were released in 2007, 2008 and this year, with the remainder expected to sell next year.

"It's no wonder there are more well-off tenants stuck in public housing flats. They simply have no way out," Housing Authority member Fred Li Wah-ming said.

Li is one of the government housing advisers who, as well s some analysts, believe that suspending the HOS has had an effect on the public housing rental market because flats that should go to people in need are being occupied by richer tenants.

Observers are divided over whether the scheme should resume, with some saying it is inefficient in allocating public resources and others insisting it is needed as a tool to manipulate the housing market.

Currently, public housing tenants who have been renting a flat for 10 years or more are required to pay more if their monthly income is higher than the government-set limit. These households are identified as better-off tenants. For example, a four-person public housing household with a monthly income of between HK$31,601 and HK$47,400 must pay 50 per cent more rent. Those earning more than HK$47,400, and those who refuse to declare their income have to pay double rent.

"Suspending the HOS will slow down the circulation rate of public housing rental flats. Without the HOS, there is no incentive to encourage rich tenants to move out, " Li said.

But despite Li's remarks, official figures show that the average waiting time for a public housing flat has improved since the scheme was suspended. In 2002, the waiting time was 2.3 years, compared to 1.8 years last year.

The number of HOS flats has fluctuated dramatically, falling from nearly 30,000 flats in 1999 to less than 4,000 in 2002, when plunging property prices scared off buyers. More than 6,000 remaining HOS flats were put on the market in 2007 and last year, and there are 1,400 flats available for sale this year.

Demand, however, has remained stable over the years. According to the authority, the number of potential white-form applicants who are eligible to apply for HOS flats has remained fairly stable between 83,600 and 98,000 since 1999. The latest figures show that up to last month, there were 82,300 eligible households in the city.

Chau Kwong-wing, chair professor of real estate and construction at the University of Hong Kong, said the HOS was an inefficient way of providing low-income families with housing and that the mass market would provide more choice.

"Actually, HOS applicants have the funds to buy low-end flats of less than HK$2 million on the mass market. The government should spend taxpayers' money more on public housing flats to ensure accommodation for those who really need it," he said.

Wong Leung-sing, head of research at Centaline Property Agency, said suspending the HOS had helped the property market recover more quickly, but other factors also had to be considered. "I think the devaluation of the US dollar, which leads to a devaluation of the Hong Kong dollar, and an increase in commodity prices have determined the market's direction," he said.

Having studied the city's public housing policies for years, Wong Kwun, chairman of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, said we should look at the impact on people's lives when considering whether to resume the HOS.

He said the HOS allowed low-income families to move up the social ladder. "About the Home Ownership Scheme, it should not be a matter of yes or no, but a matter of more or less. The HOS will always be a useful means for people to move up the social ladder in Hong Kong ," he said.
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 11:22 AM   #97
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LCQ3: Rental of shops and stalls under the HA
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Vincent Fang and an oral reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (December 2):

Question:

It has been learned that in recent years, The Link Management Limited ("The Link") has kept increasing substantially the rents of the shops in its shopping arcades and the stalls in its markets, resulting in many small business tenants who had operated for many years closing their business. Some of the small business tenants have indicated that they hope to continue to operate by renting the shops and stalls under the Hong Kong Housing Authority ("HA"). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the rent levels and changes in rents as well as letting rates of the shops under HA in the past three years; whether HA will make reference to the practice of establishing the Business Opportunity Centre in 2003 and simplify the procedure for letting its shops and stalls, as well as give priority to the tenants of The Link in taking up the tenancies;

(b) given that a surveyor firm which has been appointed as the leasing adviser of the retail section of the development of Yau Tong Phase 4 is at the same time the sole leasing agent and valuer of some of the shopping arcades under The Link, whether the authorities have assessed if there is any conflict of interests in that situation; whether the adviser is responsible for determining the rents of the shops concerned; if so, how HA prevents the adviser from determining the rents according to the rent levels of the shopping arcades under The Link; and

(c) whether HA is still implementing its divestment strategy; if so, of the details; if not, whether HA plans to improve the operating environment in its existing shopping arcades and markets, so as to enhance their competitiveness?

Reply:

President,

Retail facilities (including markets) of the Housing Authority (HA) are normally let by tender for a fixed term of three years. It is the established policy of the HA that rents are adjusted according to the market level upon expiry of the existing tenancy. There are about 2,000 shops and 1,000 stalls under the HA. They are mainly situated in shopping arcades at 23 public housing estates, covering a total floor space of around 170,000 m2.

My reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) The HA maintains the rental of its commercial facilities at a reasonable level, taking into account factors such as comparable rental statistics, the physical characteristics of the premises, and the population and environmental changes of the public housing estates where the premises are located. Sitting tenants may express their views on the business environment and factors affecting the rent levels to facilitate the HA in assessing the renewal rents. The average renewal rent for commercial facilities was $270/m2, $274/m2 and $290/m2 as at the end of March in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively, showing a relatively stable trend. The letting rate of commercial facilities was 93%, 95% and 95% as at the end of March in 07, 08 and 09 respectively.

While the Business Opportunity Centre (BOC) set up by the HA in 2002 ceased operation in May 2005 following the HA's divestment of the majority of its commercial facilities, the HA has been actively providing interested parties with suitable venues for business operation. At present, around 100 vacant shops and stalls are available for leasing by commercial tenants through open tenders and simplified leasing modes introduced by the then BOC such as "Open Instant Tender" and "Walk-in Application on a First-come-first-serve Basis". Besides, the HA offers extra rent-free periods in letting out long-standing vacant shops and stalls to increase their attractiveness.

As the HA's commercial facilities are let by open tender, the public is welcome to take up the tenancies concerned. Interested parties can obtain updated information on the premises through the Housing Department's (HD) website, estate offices and the newspaper or by calling the HD.

(b) Assessment and determination of the rent levels of commercial facilities (including the Yau Tong Phase 4 development project, hereinafter referred to as "Yau Tong Phase 4") under the HA are carried out by the HD's in-house estate surveyors by making reference to various factors, including comparable rental statistics, the physical characteristics of the rental premises, and population and environmental changes of the concerned public housing estates. In appointing a surveying consultancy firm as the leasing adviser of Yau Tong Phase 4, the HA intends to draw in private sector experience in shopping centre design and trade mix, and to keep abreast of the latest trends in the retail market. This would facilitate operating Yau Tong Phase 4 in a market-led approach. This firm will only provide consultancy services in relation to the leasing mode, development strategy, overall design, marketing and publicity of Yau Tong Phase 4. It will not take part in rent fixing or represent the HA in contacting potential tenants directly. It is therefore unlikely that the appointment will give rise to any conflict of interest.

(c) At present, the HA has no plan to divest its properties further. It will continue to formulate conversion and improvement programmes for existing commercial facilities to meet customer needs. It will also organise more promotional activities to enhance the business environment in these venues.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 07:47 AM   #98
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A blast from the past :

Interest seen in public estate plan
1 December 1999
South China Morning Post

Redevelopment schemes for old public housing estates in urban areas are likely to arouse substantial public interest and debate as the Government seeks to bring in private-sector participation, according to industry players.

Last week, Housing Department officials floated the idea of encouraging the private sector to take part in the redevelopment of public housing projects.

One suggestion was to set up a mechanism for the Housing Authority to swap sites with private developers.

For example, the authority would give public housing sites to developers for private housing development in exchange for land owned by those developers.

Developers would be required to pay the difference in land value between the sites.

Another option was to sell public housing sites in prime areas to developers for private development. The authority could use the cash returns to build more public housing or increase the quota for home loans.

Government officials are also studying the possibility of a joint venture with developers for public housing redevelopment.

Property experts said the ideas should be welcomed and, if they went ahead, would allow for better use of land resources, particularly those in urban areas.

A senior executive of a property company said the proposals to have greater private-sector participation should be explored.

"It will provide long-term benefits to society as a whole if such schemes are successfully launched," he said.

Many old public housing estates were built 20 or 30 years ago and often were located in prime urban areas, he said.

Allowing private-sector participation or selling the sites to developers for private development could generate substantial land revenues and maximise their potential for use, he said.

"The cash to be generated from the disposal of an old public housing site in prime location may be enough to build 10 new public housing estates," the executive said.

"This will allow the best use of land resources to bring about the biggest economic benefits."

The Housing Authority is undertaking an intensive redevelopment programme of public housing estates built 20 years ago.

Some redeveloped projects are sold to qualified buyers as subsidised housing flats.

Studies are being conducted on the redevelopment of estates in areas such as Cheung Sha Wan, Shekkipmei, Ho Man Tin and Ngau Tau Kok.

The list for redevelopment includes Valley Road Estate, Cheung Sha Wan Estate, Shek Kip Mei Estate, Oi Man Estate and Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate.

These housing estates are located in central urban areas where large land lots are scarce.

Analysts said the release of public housing sites would open up opportunities for quality private developments in urban districts and should attract great interest from the private sector.

However, one teething problem could be the resettlement of affected residents living in those public housing estates, they said.

Redeveloping those sites into private housing would deprive the residents of their chance to be rehoused in the same area as it was almost impossible for the authority to find suitable, large sites on which to build replacement estates, analysts said.

It was likely that most displaced residents would have to be resettled and moved to public housing flats in more remote areas, possibly the New Territories.

While strong opposition is expected from public housing tenants and pressure groups, analysts and players say it is worth exploring the move so the best use can be made of land resources.

An executive of another property company said public housing sites in some prime locations were suitable for private development and developers would welcome land swap or land sale proposals.

Also, it was logical for the Housing Authority to sell some old housing sites to raise cash as it was likely to suffer a fall in income following the Government's decision to scale down the Home Ownership Scheme, he said.

The authority's main source of income is from sales of housing flats.
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Old December 11th, 2009, 05:13 PM   #99
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Hong Kong, city of immigrants, sees historical preservation in public housing
By Violet Law
Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
6 December 2009

Marcus Tam still remembers growing up in the Lower Ngau Tau Kok public housing complex, playing in a dingy apartment with "mice the size of cats." His family moved away once their lot improved.

But in recent months Mr. Tam and other Hong Kongers have flocked to the 40-year-old public housing project to take their final pictures before it is demolished. To them, the squat concrete buildings are testament to the grittier side of their famously glitzy city, where, amid the futuristic skyscrapers, nearly half the population still lives in some form of government-subsidized housing.

Many of the projects were built to house refugees fleeing famine and political turmoil in mainland China.

Today, the steady stream of visitors reflects the nostalgia driving a nascent movement to preserve Hong Kong's heritage. "This place is part of Hong Kong culture," says Tam.

In a city that is only 160 years old and home to Chinese, British, other Europeans, and South Asians, with the majority of residents either foreign-born or children of immigrants, defining heritage can be tricky. Landmarks like Ngau Tau Kok can help provide an anchor, says Margaret Brooke, who in 2006 cofounded Heritage Hong Kong, a nonprofit preservation group.

"It really is about collective, social memories. A lot of people have no family history in Hong Kong ... so they're looking for something to latch onto," like the old public housing projects, she says.

Repurposing old buildings

Thanks to the city's budding preservation movement, two blocks of the Mei Ho Mansion, another public housing complex, are being converted into a youth hostel by a local nonprofit, as part of a government initiative to attract investors to find new uses for historical buildings.

The Savannah College of Art and Design, in Georgia, recently won a bid to turn an old courthouse in the neighborhood of Kowloon into the school's first-ever satellite campus in China.

But residents here won't accept just any foreign design. At public hearings they resoundingly rejected a proposal by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architects of the Bird's Nest, Beijing's Olympic Stadium, to stack an observation deck atop the Central Police Station. The station is the city's oldest and once held Sun Yat- sen, the founder of modern China.

That rejection didn't surprise Lee Ho-yin, director of the architectural conservation program at Hong Kong University. The preservation movement stems from the younger generation, many of whom prefer "local" flavor to "starchitects" from abroad, Dr. Lee says.

In a city that is used to seeing constant redevelopment, Lee continues, "preservation is also a way to regulate the pace of change in a society."

But Tam's visit to his old home is not about slowing change. "It's only human nature to retain the memories," he says.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 06:43 PM   #100
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Opinion : Government has the means but not will to eradicate cage hostels
16 December 2009
SCMP

As the season of goodwill approaches it would be timely for the government to consider the plight of the more than 100,000 of our fellow citizens who live in abject, third-world standard accommodation.

Challenging though this problem is for our government, surely it is not insurmountable.

Expressed as a proportion of the elderly living in public rental housing we now have some 22 per cent living in "bed spaces", or "cage dwellings" as they are more infamously known.

Emotive and sustained local research, along with international curiosity and shocking photographic coverage (BBC, CNN, Reuters to name three) of Hong Kong's bed space tenants has done little to coax the government to reduce their numbers.

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest there are today more cage dwellers than there has ever been. Sadly the sector now includes not only the elderly but as many as 10,000 children.

These Hong Kong people produce rental returns for their landlords of about four times the norm and well above the rent paid by public rental housing tenants - bed space tenants typically pay HK$1,000 to HK$1,500 per month while the current average public housing rent is HK$1,320.

Am I alone in believing that the resources, initiative and inherent caring qualities of Hong Kong people cannot eradicate this blight?

As long as this stigma exists Hong Kong can in no way consider itself a world-class city.

There will always be those who drop through the net in large cities but our leaders' complacency in addressing the problem is palpable, while enthusiasm for a prestige Housing Society project for the elderly at Tanner Road, which will produce 500 apartments in four years, is unbounded.

This is not good enough.

A government spokesman's response to CNN's coverage elicited the reply that "the government has always attached importance to meeting the needs of the grass roots, including housing needs. People choose to live in bed space apartments (that is, cage dwellings) because these apartments, apart from commanding a low rental, are mostly conveniently located in the urban area".

Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng is responsible for all housing matters and also serves as chairwoman of the Housing Authority. Ms Cheng is assisted by the permanent secretary for transport and housing, who also assumes the office of director of housing and heads the Housing Department. The department has both policy and operational responsibilities for providing public rental housing and assessing eligibility for public housing assistance.

Ms Cheng is currently watching how the Real Estate Developers Association implements its revised guidelines on "various enhancement measures" for sales brochures and promotional materials of uncompleted residential properties.

It would be a more significant and exemplary move if she were to address this far more urgent issue that touches the fabric, soul and human dignity of our great city.

Tony Price, Tung Chung
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