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Old November 8th, 2012, 03:34 PM   #21
randolphan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
West Wing set for status quo
The Standard
Monday, November 05, 2012

The West Wing redevelopment plan for the old government headquarters may now be scrapped, with the Antiquities Advisory Board poised to likely rate it a Grade 1 historic buidling.

The revised rating, expected next month, will come after a public consultation showed more than 90 percent of locals support the idea that "every effort should be made to preserve [the building] if possible."

Initially, the board in June raised the rating of the building on Government Hill to Grade 2, but even this sparked a public outcry after which four board members resigned.

That grading came after the government declared plans to tear down the West Wing and construct a 32-story commercial tower in its place, saying the historic value of the former office was relatively low.

The board then raised the rating from Grade 3 to Grade 2 and launched a public consultation that ended on August 31.

The June meeting saw the board deadlocked, with members split evenly on Grade 1 and Grade 2 ratings.

Bernard Charnwut Chan then used his vote as the chairman to rate it a Grade 2 building, sparking criticism that he was acting in collusion with the government.

The four members who quit had all voted in favor of a Grade 2 rating.

So it is more than likely that when the next ballot takes place, those in favor of labeling it a Grade 1 building will hold sway.

Should this happen, the government will likely review the redevelopment plan for the West Wing, a source said.

Architecture expert Lee Ho-yin, who quit the board in June, said the West Wing is not of Grade 1 standard but public opinion will have to be taken into consideration since it is a government property.

But Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design president Bernard Lim Wan-fung said the board should take professional opinion into consideration and public opinion as reference only.

Lim said: "The Antiquities Advisory Board is not the Town Planning Board nor a district council, it should not make decisions based on public opinion and should use a more objective standard."

He also believes the board's rating is only one of the considerations and the government should decide separately on whether to redevelop the West Wing building.
WHAT?! Keeping West Wing? Those preservationists have low taste.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:51 PM   #22
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Ho Tung redevelopment to go ahead, west wing saved
Tuesday, 04 December, 2012, 7:53pm
South China Morning Post Excerpt



Meanwhile, the government has shelved its plan to demolish the west wing of the former central government headquarters building in Central and turn it into a commercial building. The block, along with the rest of the complex, would be preserved and used as offices for the Department of Justice, the government said.

As for the west wing of the old government headquarters, Chan said the block could cater to the needs of the Justice Department, which has a shortage of office space. The department could also take over the east and central wings, he said.

The government had planned to turn the old headquarters' west wing – which is more than 50 years old – into a 32-storey office tower.
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Old December 31st, 2012, 04:55 PM   #23
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Clumsy about-face on two heritages
The Standard
Wednesday, December 05, 2012

What a tale of two buildings for Ho Tung Gardens and the West Wing of the old SAR government headquarters!

Both had been the subject of heated debate amid a backlash from conservationists to plans to stop a redevelopment of one of the two sites and to pursue a project for the other.

Under the original plan and at the urging of former development minister Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Ho Tung Gardens on The Peak was to be spared the wrecker's ball and preserved - over the owner's objections.

Meanwhile, the vacant West Wing in Central was to be demolished and redeveloped into a 32-story office tower for financial institutions.

Both decisions were reversed yesterday. Instead, Ho Tung Gardens will be redeveloped and the West Wing preserved.

How's Lam's feeling now? It's disappointing she didn't show up at the press conference where her successor in the development hot seat, Paul Chan Mo- po, and justice secretary Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung announced the Executive Council's about-face on the two matters.

Otherwise, the media could have asked her if these were examples of what she meant by insisting on what's good - a saying she's become famous for since rising to the number two position in the current administration.

Nevertheless, it was correct to reverse the conservation call for Ho Tung Gardens, which was long overdue. As I've said repeatedly, it's been wrong from the beginning to put the private mansion under public protection.

Yesterday, Chan revealed for the first time that the owner, Ho Min-kwan, had demanded HK$7 billion in compensation - whereas the government's estimate was HK$3 billion tops.

In hindsight, it's fortunate the negotiations with Ho failed. Otherwise, it would have sparked another public outcry. But ultimately, yesterday's decision reaffirmed the government respect for private property rights.

However, the reversal of the decision on the West Wing is ill-founded, sadly. The building is hardly impressive. Amid the background of complaints over an acute shortage of office space in Central, the West Wing could have been more suitably utilized.

It's baffling the government changed its mind there. Didn't Lam announce only two weeks before she was sworn in as chief secretary that the West Wing would become an office tower as a build- operate-transfer project?

Back then, she was so determined she announced it ahead of a controversial Antiquities Advisory Board meeting that gave the building a low rating.

The two buildings share at least one thing in common despite their different fates. For board chairman and Executive Council member Bernard Charnwut Chan was more forthcoming about it than the two ministers - hinting there were political considerations.

But what Chan stopped short of saying was that a wrong decision regarding one building was corrected, while a right decision regarding another building was made wrong.

If anything, they're examples of political expedience by a government trying desperately to put out as many fires as possible.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 07:25 PM   #24
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image hosted on flickr

Central Government Offices (West Wing) by Canadian Pacific, on Flickr
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