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Old November 12th, 2009, 04:50 PM   #1
hkskyline
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HONG KONG | Wan Chai Star Street Revitalization

HK$20m proposal to turn Star Street in Wan Chai into another Knutsford Terrace
28 September 2009
South China Morning Post

A HK$20 million plan to turn the Star Street precinct in Wan Chai into another Knutsford Terrace and also make it part of a heritage trail was announced yesterday.

Under the plan, initiated by Swire Properties, a lift from Queen's Road East will take visitors to the fourth floor of Lok Moon Mansion, where a terrace will connect to Sun Street, which could be turned into an arts and dining area like Knutsford Terrace in Tsim Sha Tsui. This will mean visitors need no longer take the steep staircase from Wing Lok Lane.

There are already a number of small art studios and a Western restaurant in the ground-floor shops of the old tenement buildings in Sun Street. It is understood that Swire has started acquiring some of the old buildings for redevelopment.

The developer is expected to extend its sphere of influence further from Star Street, site of Pacific Place Three, to Queen's Road East if the project materialises. But the plan has yet to be finalised and it requires the approval of the sites' owners.

The heritage trail was formed to showcase the local history, culture and architectural style of Wan Chai - one of the city's earliest settlements. A study was conducted last year to identify spots that could be linked to form a tour that would attract visitors.

Nine of the 15 spots, such as Wan Chai Market, the Blue House and Nam Koo Terrace, are now being revitalised in preservation projects initiated by the Urban Renewal Authority or the Development Bureau. It will take four to seven years before all the buildings are operating again, but visitors can appreciate their architectural features during the two-hour walk of the trail.

People interested in the culture and lifestyle of Wan Chai are advised to visit Pak Tai Temple in Nullah Lane, the Hung Shing Temple and the former Wan Chai Post Office in Queen's Road East, and the open markets in Cross Street, Tai Yuen Street and Gresson Street.

District council vice-chairman Stephen Ng Kam-chun, who is also convenor of its renewal committee, said more action would be taken by Swire to refurbish areas around Star Street, Sun Street and Moon Street.

District councillor Kenny Lee Kwun-yee welcomed the plan, adding it would make life easier for the elderly. The plan will also refurbish St Francis Yard - one of the city's earliest gathering places for Catholics.

The city's first power plant, built in 1890, was located nearby.

Lee said Swire would hold a consultation by the end of the year to gain consensus from the owners of Lok Moon Mansion.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said public-private partnerships were welcomed in setting up the heritage trail. "The [Wan Chai] trail has adopted a district-based approach," she said.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 07:14 PM   #2
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Firm unveils HK$20m proposal to revitalise part of Wan Chai
23 October 2009
South China Morning Post

Swire Properties has unveiled a HK$20 million proposal to revitalise a part of Wan Chai and has invited members of the public to give their views.

The proposal aims to beautify the streetscape in a one-hectare area between Queen's Road East, St Francis Street, Star Street and Wing Fung Street by improving features such as railings, paving, lighting, signage and information panels. It also seeks to beautify the area's Lok Moon Garden, Kwong Ming Street children's playground and Dominion Garden, and improve public access to them.

Swire Properties' general manager Guy Bradley said the company valued the neighbourhood around its key developments. "The area is very close to our home, Pacific Place," he said. "We see the project as a continuation of the regeneration of the area."

Residents can visit an exhibition room at 3 Sun Street for details about the revitalisation plan and leave their comments until November 8.

Bradley said the estimated cost of the project, HK$20 million, was a preliminary figure. The actual cost would depend on the final design and the government's approval of the plan.

He said a key purpose of the plan was to encourage small businesses in the area to become more creative.

"The idea is not to create a second Lan Kwai Fong and it is not about food and beverage," he said. "Our intention is to encourage small businesses to create something of their own."

Work may begin as early as the second quarter of next year.

"The exact schedule will depend on when we get final approvals and the scope of works," Bradley said.

Swire Properties submitted a letter of interest in March in response to an invitation from the Old Wan Chai Revitalisation Initiatives Special Committee. It is the only party that has submitted an expression of interest to revitalise this particular area.

The Oval Partnership, an architectural firm, designed the revitalisation plan.

Bradley said the project covered many private ownership titles.

"Negotiation will need to be made as we respect private ownership rights," he said. "We will co-operate closely with the public sector, including government departments, and the district council as well."
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Old July 19th, 2010, 04:49 PM   #3
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Urban renewal has seen Wan Chai overcome its tawdry image to become one of the city's best places to reside, with a world of shopping and dining to enjoy Infamous district reborn
28 June 2010
South China Morning Post

Urban renewal and the introduction of upmarket bars, restaurants and serviced apartments have injected a new lease of life into this formerly worn-out district.

Arguably the city's most famous - and infamous - district, Wan Chai is trying to shed its decades-old reputation as a waterfront haunt. Serviced apartments have sprung up to serve multinational companies with offices in the district and the area is a magnet for locals and visitors who flock there to wine, dine and shop.

Host to the historic 1997 handover ceremonies, heralding the city's reversion to Chinese sovereignty, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) continues to be the region's most popular venue for world-class conferences, exhibitions and trade shows. A new HKCEC extension now sees the venue also hosting international art and antique shows, fashion extravaganzas and health and wellness expos. The surrounding area is also home to commercial and government organisations, and some of the city's best hotels.

By way of contrast to its nightlife reputation, Wan Chai is also home to the Academy for Performing Arts (APA) which hosts cultural offerings across the artistic spectrum.

The APA has also grown an international reputation attracting talents from around the world to train in music, dance and theatre.

And, while Lockhart Road still retains its reputation for notorious entertainment, newly established bars and eateries also signal the rapid disappearance of many less than salubrious establishments and old-fashioned Chinese dai pai dong eateries.

Further into the district, Johnston Road has also benefited from renewal projects, with former traditional shop-houses dating back to 1888 now housing international restaurants and pub-style eateries, while also retaining their exotic ambience associated with the architecture of a bygone era.

The maze of streets in the surrounding area are also home to food and fashion outlets, open-air markets, traditional tea merchants and Chinese herbalists.

Savvy investors have also recognised the district's potential.

The new Star Street precinct is home to scores of trendy bars, cosy cafes and top restaurants. Conveniently connected to Admiralty's Pacific Place, the 280-metre link features moving walkways providing the public with safe, direct and air conditioned access to the lively new lifestyle precinct.

Immediately adjacent is Queen's Road East, home to traditional Qing dynasty rosewood furniture shops that reside next to modern furniture shops and interior décor emporiums.

The 64-storey Hopewell Centre, formerly Hong Kong's tallest building, hosts a top-floor revolving restaurant providing panoramic views of Victoria Harbour, while lower floors house numerous retail shops and one of the largest international supermarkets in the city.

All roads lead to Wan Chai and the area's public transport options are the envy of many other districts. A short MTR ride delivers passengers to the heart of Causeway Bay and Admiralty, and quick and easy connections to the city's Airport Express train. Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) is also a short 10-minute cross-harbour MTR trip away. The Star Ferry also departs from the Wan Chai waterfront, next to the HKCEC with connections to TST and Hung Hom.
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Old September 1st, 2010, 08:40 AM   #4
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Style warrior happily casts his Monocle on hip Hong Kong
29 July 2010
SCMP

Hong Kong is unmistakably one of the coolest places in Asia.

The doubters will now have to accept the reality and agree with international style-warrior Tyler Brule that the city is a hip and happening place.

Brule sums up some of the best qualities of Asia's world city: "You can cram so much into a day here ... New York, by contrast, does not function like Hong Kong or Singapore."

The creator of stylish magazine Monocle has just opened a bureau-cum-shop in Hong Kong.

Located in the cool neighbourhood of Star Street, in Wan Chai, it sells a meticulously curated range of design collaborations, Monocle's limited-edition products, including posters, postcards, CDs, its new summer newspaper, Monocle Mediterraneo, and trendy stationery.

Interestingly, Brule once doubted Hong Kong's ability to rise to the challenge. He apparently had an epiphany back in April.

He wrote favourably about the city in the June issue of Monocle, which was partially put together in Hong Kong when a third of his staff was stuck here during the airspace lockdown caused by Iceland's volcanic eruption.

The team came here to prepare for the opening of Monocle's seasonal shop at Lane Crawford.

The editor-in-chief later wrote in the magazine: "When the ash cleared it was apparent there were far worse places to have been stranded than Hong Kong, with its can-do attitude and impeccable service. The experiences of Monocle staff during the airspace shutdown vindicate our decision to open our new Asia bureau there."

The ingenious Brule added that having been temporarily stranded in the city had forced him to reassess it in a very different way.

"It didn't take long for my colleagues in Hong Kong to realise they were far better off operating from the Grand Hyatt than potentially similar set-ups in New York, Mexico City or even London."

Brule said he eventually chose Hong Kong over other Asian cities as the magazine's second bureau after Tokyo because, apart from being attractive, the city is exceedingly functional, allowing businesses to "get the job done swiftly, efficiently and economically".

We understand Singapore and Shanghai were only briefly considered by Brule.
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