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Old September 12th, 2006, 05:18 PM   #221
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dallas star
I am over loadded with information
There are a lot of redevelopment projects happening in Hong Kong right now. There are huge ones, such as the planned Kwun Tong downtown to smaller ones involving individual buildings and small plot sites.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 06:41 PM   #222
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From news.gov.hk:
Sham Shui Po project acquisition starts
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Old September 22nd, 2006, 06:21 AM   #223
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Thousands view Kwun Tong redevelopment options
18 September 2006
South China Morning Post

The Urban Renewal Authority's managing director, Billy Lam Chung-lun, said the public's response had been encouraging, with 80 per cent of people polled by the University of Hong Kong favouring one of the models.

But he remained tight-lipped on which option the public preferred, stressing early disclosure would jeopardise the fairness of the public consultation.

But Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit, who is a non-executive director of the authority, said the public was still missing crucial information, included financing of the redevelopment and details of development phases. He said the redevelopment had a plot ratio of close to eight for residential space while the existing density was below five.

"The authority's high density ensures the project's financial viability. But it has never disclosed details of the project's financing. It has to tell us more to justify the high development density," Mr Leong said.

Kwun Tong's redevelopment was announced in early 1998 by the Land Development Corporation. The project was passed to the authority when it was set up three years later, following the dissolution of the corporation.

The 5.3-hectare project includes Yuet Wah Street bus terminal and the area bordered by Hip Wo Street, Mut Wah Street, Hong Ning Road and Kwun Tong Road. The redevelopment will affect 24 buildings and 1,635 property rights. About 5,000 people and 300 shops will be affected. The HK$30 billion redevelopment is the authority's biggest project and will take more than a decade to complete.

The authority has stressed it is crucial to redevelop Kwun Tong in phases to maintain the vibrancy of the busy district. But it had not decided how to phase the redevelopment or tender it.

Mr Leong said: "They must have an idea although they may change their mind later, but they should let the public know and let them comment on which part of the Kwun Tong town centre will be redeveloped first."

The public also should be informed of the schemes' proportions for residential, commercial and community space.

The redevelopment marks the first time the authority has consulted the community and come up with designs before it resumes properties and redevelops.

After two rounds of tendering, three architecture consultants were shortlisted to come up with three concept plans. They are Wong & Ouyang (HK), MLA Architecture (HK) and WDA Group.

The authority's plan is to submit the master plan for Town Planning Board approval before March. Then it will begin resuming property rights.
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Old September 22nd, 2006, 06:25 AM   #224
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Residential blocks, office towers and hotels feature in designs
18 September 2006
South China Morning Post

The public has been asked to choose from three designs for the Kwun Tong redevelopment.

All share four basic elements:

Five residential blocks between 30 and 40 storeys at the northern part of the town centre with 2,000 flats;

Office towers and hotels in the south, facing Kwun Tong Road;

A pedestrianised Yue Man Square surrounded by government facilities, shops and offices;

A large underground car park.

Architectural firm Wong & Ouyang received harsh criticism when it revealed its model included a 280-metre high office and hotel tower.

"We have participated in all public forums and residents said they don't mind tall buildings but they want a landmark," director Lam Wo Hei said, adding that the proposed skyscraper was slightly higher than the 200-metre APM shopping mall.

"The building will be close to APM and other existing high rises. They will form a cluster of tall buildings. By being slightly taller than the other towers, we will create a landmark for Kwun Tong without upsetting the design of the neighbourhood."

The firm proposes broadening roads surrounding the site to improve traffic flow. It has also promised that residential blocks would be separated so residents could enjoy views of a regenerated Yue Man Square.

WDA Group's scheme stresses preservation of the town's narrow streets.

Managing director Chow Wai-lee said: "We will keep the existing lanes in our design. After talking to residents, we know people treasure the narrow streets."

The architect was referring to Tung Yan Street, Fu Yan Street and Yue Man Passage. People will enter Yue Man Square through these streets and shop along them.

Keeping the streets adds ground-level entrances to the square on top of pedestrian footbridges linking the town centre with the rest of the district and creating extra commercial space.

Low-rise shopping centres will surround the square, which will also feature an open-air theatre with an artificial waterfall.

Ms Chow's design also incorporates a skyscraper taller than Sun Hung Kai's APM shopping mall.

Architectural firm MLA's design puts the emphasis on government and community facilities. A major feature is the dome-shaped multi-purpose community centre that will stand in Hip Wo Street.

"Civic presence is important in our design. It is to let the public know we have them in mind," MLA director Yuen Tak-chuen said.

Mr Yuen hopes the redevelopment will make Kwun Tong more of a cultural area, so exhibition spaces for artists have been included at the shopping centres and hotel.

Yue Man Square is surrounded by a five-storey podium level shopping centre.
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Old September 23rd, 2006, 05:59 PM   #225
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Kowloon bowling club goes up for bidding
Yvonne Liu
21 September 2006
South China Morning Post

The 106-year-old Kowloon Bowling Green Club in Jordan has invited developers to submit proposals to redevelop the site into a residential project that would include club and bowling facilities.

The club has appointed Levett & Bailey Development Consultant to tender the 76,994 square foot site, with a November 3 closing date.

Levett & Bailey director Stephen Lai Yuk-fai said: "We can't disclose the details of the tender to the public at this stage as it will be unfair to people who pay HK$2,500 for the tender documents."

Potential developers have to propose a land price and a scheme for the site at the junction of Austin Road and Cox's Road that includes a clubhouse and bowling facilities.

The club's facilities are expected to be smaller than the original under any new development.

Under the outline zoning plan, the site is restricted for sports and recreation club use, but there is no restriction on usage in the land lease.

Lanbase Surveyors director Chan Cheong-kit said: "If the land lease has no restriction on usage, the developer can develop a residential project once the Town Planning Board agrees to rezone the site. The developer doesn't have to pay a land premium for [the conversion]."

The Kowloon Bowling Green Club was built in 1900 in what was a luxury residential district.

"The average price on the secondary market in the district is HK$7,000 per square foot. Carmen's Garden at Cox's Road fetched HK$10,000 per square foot in 1997," Mr Chan said. "The accommodation value of the club redevelopment project is valued at HK$6,000 per square foot."
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Old September 25th, 2006, 07:29 AM   #226
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Residents want density of Kwun Tong plan cut
Leslie Kwoh
Hong Kong Standard
Monday, September 25, 2006

More than half the residents of Kwun Tong want to see the area's residential density lowered, even as government plans for the redevelopment of the district's town center show plot ratios will skyrocket by almost 40 percent.

Fifty-seven percent of Kwun Tong residents want to see this density reduced from the current plot ratio of 4.7, according to a report released Sunday by the Civic Party.

Another 26 percent said they want density to remain the same after redevelopment, while only 4 percent desire an increase. Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit said the results of the survey, which took in more than 750 people between March and July, showed most residents were not keen on seeing more developments like the APM mega-mall in the area.

One of the three proposals for the 5.3-hectare project - which will affect 5,000 people, 300 shops and 24 buildings - includes an office tower that appears to be about 280 meters high, or about 100m higher than the seven-story APM.

"We urge the Urban Renewal Authority to avoid high-density developments as much as possible," said Leong, who is also a non-executive director at the authority.

"We also ask the authority to ensure that any new developments will not interfere with the natural ridgeline."

The study found that 74 percent of residents wanted to see the Yue Man Square area redeveloped into a place for mixed commercial and residential developments that includes both cheap and expensive establishments.

Only about 25 percent of respondents said the area should be used to develop high-end commercial and retail buildings.

"The area right now is old, but it is bustling and many people said they enjoy the convenient and cheap shopping," Leong said.

Estimated to cost HK$30 billion, the redevelopment is the authority's largest - and also one of its most contentious - projects.

Authority chief Billy Lam Chung- lun has revealed an average increase of one point in plot ratio would mean a potential revenue increase of HK$3 billion - a revelation that has prompted critics to question the government's definition of "renewal" and demand limits on the height of proposed skyscrapers.

Land surveyors estimate the redeveloped town center would lift the value of residential properties to about HK$7,500 per square foot, which might prompt landlords and tenants to move to less expensive areas in the territory.

While the authority has devoted about half the project's cost - HK$13 billion - to compensate holders of property rights in the area, Leong Sunday called for more information to prove that such an undertaking would be financially feasible. The authority, which has a cash reserve of HK$3.2 billion, has not disclosed details on how it plans to bankroll the compensation except to say it will be carried out in three phases.

Leong urged the authority to speed up the renewal process, expected to take 12 years, to protect the project against market fluctuations.

"We recognize there's always been some tension between the need to balance the books and to answer the public's demand for sustainable development, but the residents have waited eight years [since the project was first announced], and we need to find a way out of this impasse," he said.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 07:43 AM   #227
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In the shadows
As a group of Tai Kok Tsui residents makes a futile last stand against renewal, experts question officials' approach to revitalising old districts
26 September 2006
South China Morning Post

HOMEGROWN CARTOON PIG McDull and long-term residents of Tai Kok Tsui share feelings of helplessness and gloom over the redevelopment of the old district in West Kowloon. In the animated film Prince de la Bun, McDull is frustrated by a giant robot's bid to demolish parts of Tai Kok Tsui. In real life, shop owners and residents such as Tse Ngai-shing are just as upset by the area's urban renewal.

They're tearing up the community, says Tse, who runs an ironworks shop in Beech Street. "The government is trying to kick us out of the inner city because we're dirty, blue-collar people," he says.

Lee Wong Kit-fong, an elderly resident who used to run a metal-fabrication shop with her late husband, laments that grand revitalisation projects have done little to improve life for people such as her.

"Our hands were always very dirty because we collected scrap metal for recycling. But those were happy days," she says. "We could still see the harbour from our shop, back then, and at Mid-Autumn Festival, my children would play with lanterns near the waterfront. But now we can't get a glimpse of the sea any more."

Tse is among a group of residents hunkered down in the district, despite a September 14 deadline for their removal under the redevelopment scheme. The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has issued writs against the hold-outs, but most say they have no choice as they can't find affordable alternative accommodation. They don't have funds for a court battle, and can only write letters in their own defence, Tse says.

Tai Kok Tsui once thrived on its mixture of residential blocks, dock facilities and clusters of metalwork and vehicle workshops, but URA officials say redevelopment is necessary because buildings in the district are too old and ground-floor workshops generate air and noise pollution. About 1,300 households are affected by five URA projects covering Cherry, Larch, Fir, Pine, Anchor and Fuk Tsun streets.

"There's a need to improve pedestrian linkages in the district, as road traffic is busy due to street parking and loading activities of workshops," says a URA spokesman. "Through a comprehensive approach, including the implementation of redevelopment, rehabilitation [and] revitalisation projects, we can bring a better living and working environment to the area."

But district representatives say the authority's vision for Tai Kok Tsui mainly benefits developers, who focus on high-density, high-rise estates to maximise land use and profits.

The Yau Tsim Mong District Council has long lobbied the government for improved public facilities, including the construction of a waterside promenade from Sham Shui Po to Kowloon City, but to no avail, says council chairman Henry Chan Man-yu. "We've been asking for a promenade so that old people living in poorer areas can gather to chat with their friends, while professionals living in new luxury high-rises can go jogging," Chan says.

"Residents of the old and new neighbourhoods now live in two different worlds. There's a serious polarisation in Tai Kok Tsui. Existing residents don't enjoy benefits from redevelopment of the district at all."

Tse, who has lived in the district for nearly 30 years, feels the difference. "The better environment is not for us. The rest of Tai Kok Tsui will be just like the reclaimed coastal area with high-end flats and big shopping malls," he says. "We seldom go to the department stores near Olympic MTR station. People there dress very nicely, but they seem very cold."

But the hold-outs know eviction is almost inevitable and senior citizens such as Wong are anxious about their future.

"I rely on the HK$8,000 that I get from renting out our old shop space. That is very important to me as I am chronically ill - I have to support myself," says the widow, who suffers from cancer.

The residents say they will also miss the sense of community and friendliness of their neighbourhood - a rare quality in many developments.

"The buildings in my neighbourhood might look shabby, but people are friendlier," Tse says. "Although our shops are small, we know [the] names and background of nearly every customer and give them the best service."

Wong says extensive reclamation work at Tai Kok Tsui and the demolition of old buildings has erased all trace of her and her husband's old haunts.

"Whenever I used to walk past, memories would flood into my mind," she says. "But I can't bear to visit since the project has begun."

Kevin Manuel Kwo-keung, a lecturer at the department of building science at City University, says the redevelopment of Tai Kok Tsui needs a human touch. "The government and private developers are only concerned about economic viability. They don't formulate people-oriented plans, and the new development poses a serious threat to the culture and history of the district," Manuel says.

"Tai Kok Tsui used to be a shelter for fishing boats and ships. Can you find any trace of history along the harbour now? It seems memories of the past have all been wiped out." The renewal projects will destroy the community, he says.

"They totally break down the social network because those long-time residents can never be neighbours again," Manuel says. It's hard for many of them to find places to move because rents and flat prices have gone up considerably, the lecturer says. "Without government help, it's difficult for them to settle somewhere they can afford to buy or pay rent," he says. "It's very sad."

Manuel calls on the government to rehouse affected residents within the district, so they can be resettled as a community. The academic also criticises planners for failing to include better recreational facilities for residents in their revitalisation schemes. "Developers have taken over most of the coastline for the construction of high-rises, but the government has yet to do anything at the waterfront to introduce more recreational facilities," he says.

Bernard Lim, the president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, says the government should create more open spaces and public facilities when redeveloping old districts. "There's concern over whether there's enough recreational facilities for residents," he says. "Long-time inhabitants in the older part of Tai Kok Tsui don't benefit from the new construction in their district."

High-density developments along the reclaimed waterfront not only fail to meet the needs of Tai Kok Tsui residents, the blocks of tall buildings form huge barriers that block the older areas from sun and wind, Lim says.

According to a study last month by environmental group Green Sense, the blocks of tall buildings have sealed off 63 per cent of Tai Kok Tsui's 6km coastline, preventing sea breezes from reaching ageing inner neighbourhoods.

Built to maximise the number of flats with sea views, the wall of high-rises impedes ventilation and makes the old quarters even hotter in the summer, the group says. As a result, families in the inner-city blocks suffer more respiratory diseases.

"The government can't just give developers a free hand," says Green Sense chairman Roy Tam Hoi-pong. "Some think the solution in urban renewal projects is to tear down old districts and build again, but [new construction] can actually make the quality of life worse."
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 08:01 PM   #228
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Rethink urged on Kwun Tong master plan
Pressure group says all properties needed for huge redevelopment should be bought at the same time

Ng Kang-chung
25 September 2006
South China Morning Post

The Urban Renewal Authority has been urged to acquire in one go all properties included in its mega redevelopment of Kwun Tong.

Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit, who is also a non-executive director of the authority, yesterday said acquiring properties in phases could be unfair to those included in later stages.

"Some owners may want to take advantage of a booming property market and sell their flats to the authority, while others simply do not want to wait because they have lived in their rundown flats for too long," said Mr Leong, who released a report on the multi-phase redevelopment.

The report, which forms part of a project entitled "KT Vision" conducted by Mr Leong's office and five social and local students' groups, urged the authority to release more information on financing of the project and details of rehousing and compensation packages.

Mr Leong also urged the authority to retain the characteristics of the old town, instead of simply replacing old blocks with skyscrapers or shopping malls.

A street poll, conducted as part of the KT Vision project, interviewed 775 people in Kwun Tong between March and June. It found 56 per cent complained that Kwun Tong was already too densely populated. And 57 per cent wanted more low-rise buildings to be built as part of the redevelopment.

Mr Leong said the designs released by the authority did not seem to meet the residents' needs.

Last month the authority launched a two-month consultation process over three conceptual designs for the renewal of 5.3 hectares in the heart of Kwun Tong, bounded by the MTR station, Hong Ning Road, and Hip Wo Street.

All three designs feature high-rise office towers and hotels, residential blocks of up to 40 storeys, and a large underground car park.

The planned project - Hong Kong's biggest redevelopment - would cost the authority HK$30 billion and take up to 12 years to complete. On completion, Kwun Tong will be transformed into a commercial and retail hub for eastern Kowloon.

About 5,000 residents living in 24 rundown blocks dating from the 1950s will have to relocate.

Charles Ng Ka-kui, programme director of the Christian Family Service Centre - a partner in the KT Vision project, said the rights of poor families in the district should not be overlooked.

Once a booming industrial district, Kwun Tong was one of Hong Kong's first satellite towns. Over the decades, however, it degenerated into one of the poorest districts.

With a population of about 570,000, the district has become a focal point for the Commission on Poverty, a government body that was set up to explore ways of helping deprived groups.

A plan to redevelop Kwun Tong town centre was first drawn up in the late 1980s, but the project has been held up despite rounds of studies because of its cost.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 07:27 AM   #229
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Mega mall 'may shut 90pc of Kwun Tong stores'
Chester Yung
Hong Kong Standard
Monday, October 09, 2006

Up to 90 percent of retail stores in Kwun Tong may be forced to close if a proposed mega mall plan for Yue Man Square goes ahead because it will drive away customers used to cheap goods and services, an academic has warned.

Speaking at a forum on the planned redevelopment of the popular shopping area Sunday, Chinese University of Hong Kong associate professor of architecture Wallace Chang Ping-hung said he was worried the project proposed by the Urban Renewal Authority will destroy the district's traditional image as a place for low-cost shopping.

Kwun Tong - a mainly industrial district - is known to be Hong Kong's second-lowest income district due to its vast number of factory workers.

"If the proposed mega mall goes ahead, we may not have the teahouses now selling a bowl of herbal tea for HK$3, but upmarket cafes selling a cup of coffee for HK$30," Chang said.

The URA has already begun a two- month public consultation exercise that ends tomorrow on three concept designs for the redevelopment of the 5.3-hectare area bounded by Hip Wo Street, Mut Wah Street, Hong Ning Road and Kwun Tong Road.

The project, which has been in the pipeline since 1998, is expected to cost HK$30 billion.

According to the plan, Yue Man Square will be expanded to about four times its existing area into a vibrant, modern hub for shopping and entertainment.

But Chang urged the developers to think twice before launching the project. "For many years, Kwun Tong has been a place catering to the needs of the grassroots society - inexpensive goods and entertainment. Shop operators will not be able to sustain their business by selling costly goods," he said.

"I fear that if the mega mall development materializes, about 80 to 90 percent of the retail stores will close down."

Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions member and Kwun Tong district community officer Kan Ming-tung agreed, saying any radical change for Kwun Tong would have a negative impact as the district is home mainly to low-income groups and the elderly.

"Yue Man Square, in the center of Kwun Tong, is a symbol of the masses," Kan said. "The URA's plan to build the mega mall project will kill the residents' lifestyle and affect their livelihood, as well as the spending patterns of the grassroots workers in the district."

According to a recent survey carried out by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, nearly 70 percent of 430 people who live and work in or near Kwun Tong said they spent less than HK$100 each time they went out shopping or dining. The union also spoke to the operators of about 300 shops and businesses and found almost half paid less than HK$10,000 in rent a month.

"Yue Man Square, with its cluster of low-cost shops and restaurants, fits in perfectly well with the consumption pattern of the grassroots society," said Nelson Chan Wah-yu, a Kwun Tong District Council member.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 07:28 AM   #230
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Mega mall 'may shut 90pc of Kwun Tong stores'
Chester Yung
Hong Kong Standard
Monday, October 09, 2006

Up to 90 percent of retail stores in Kwun Tong may be forced to close if a proposed mega mall plan for Yue Man Square goes ahead because it will drive away customers used to cheap goods and services, an academic has warned.

Speaking at a forum on the planned redevelopment of the popular shopping area Sunday, Chinese University of Hong Kong associate professor of architecture Wallace Chang Ping-hung said he was worried the project proposed by the Urban Renewal Authority will destroy the district's traditional image as a place for low-cost shopping.

Kwun Tong - a mainly industrial district - is known to be Hong Kong's second-lowest income district due to its vast number of factory workers.

"If the proposed mega mall goes ahead, we may not have the teahouses now selling a bowl of herbal tea for HK$3, but upmarket cafes selling a cup of coffee for HK$30," Chang said.

The URA has already begun a two- month public consultation exercise that ends tomorrow on three concept designs for the redevelopment of the 5.3-hectare area bounded by Hip Wo Street, Mut Wah Street, Hong Ning Road and Kwun Tong Road.

The project, which has been in the pipeline since 1998, is expected to cost HK$30 billion.

According to the plan, Yue Man Square will be expanded to about four times its existing area into a vibrant, modern hub for shopping and entertainment.

But Chang urged the developers to think twice before launching the project. "For many years, Kwun Tong has been a place catering to the needs of the grassroots society - inexpensive goods and entertainment. Shop operators will not be able to sustain their business by selling costly goods," he said.

"I fear that if the mega mall development materializes, about 80 to 90 percent of the retail stores will close down."

Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions member and Kwun Tong district community officer Kan Ming-tung agreed, saying any radical change for Kwun Tong would have a negative impact as the district is home mainly to low-income groups and the elderly.

"Yue Man Square, in the center of Kwun Tong, is a symbol of the masses," Kan said. "The URA's plan to build the mega mall project will kill the residents' lifestyle and affect their livelihood, as well as the spending patterns of the grassroots workers in the district."

According to a recent survey carried out by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, nearly 70 percent of 430 people who live and work in or near Kwun Tong said they spent less than HK$100 each time they went out shopping or dining. The union also spoke to the operators of about 300 shops and businesses and found almost half paid less than HK$10,000 in rent a month.

"Yue Man Square, with its cluster of low-cost shops and restaurants, fits in perfectly well with the consumption pattern of the grassroots society," said Nelson Chan Wah-yu, a Kwun Tong District Council member.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 07:17 AM   #231
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Hopewell splashes out HK$600m on Hitec makeover
11 October 2006
South China Morning Post

Hopewell Holdings, a property and toll road firm, said the redevelopment of an exhibition centre in Kowloon Bay into a shopping and entertainment complex will cost HK$600 million and half of the project has been leased.

Hopewell is renovating the Hongkong International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Hitec) in the industrial area of Kowloon Bay and turning it into a 900,000 square foot shopping and entertainment complex.

Deputy managing director Thomas Jefferson Wu yesterday said that the investment included HK$200 million of land premium to the government, a payment required for changing land use.

The project, which is scheduled to open in the middle of next year, is part of Hopewell's plan to increase rental income.

Property leasing accounted for 12.36 per cent or HK$188 million of the group's HK$1.52 billion earnings before interest and tax in the year to June. Hopewell's net profit was HK$2.25 billion, 18 per cent higher year on year.

Rent at Hitec ranges between HK$20 and HK$50 per square foot, according to Hopewell associate director William Wong Wing-lam.

Half of the space has been leased by three tenants - a car exhibition operator taking 250,000 sqft, a home store operator taking 200,000 sqft and a bowling venue operator.

Hitec's 720,000 sqft office development above the exhibition centre will not be affected by the makeover. The office space is more than 90 per cent occupied, a spokeswoman said.

Hitec's reopening will coincide with next year's opening of Megabox, a Kerry Properties shopping centre development in Kowloon Bay offering 1.1 million sqft of retail space.

Mr Wu said he was not concerned that Megabox would compete with Hitec because the districts around Kowloon Bay, including Kai Tak and Kwun Tong, would undergo redevelopment and generate demand for shopping and entertainment spaces.

Hopewell is also developing two office towers on Queen's Road East, Wan Chai. The first, a 770,000 sqft commercial tower costing HK$150 million, will be completed in the third quarter next year.

The other, a HK$280 million 96,500 sqft residential and commercial tower, is due for completion in the forth quarter of 2008.

At Happy Valley, Hopewell plans to redevelop a 113,900 sqft site on 12 Broadwood Road into luxury flats for leasing. The HK$500 million project is due for completion in 2009.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:07 AM   #232
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Green facelift planned for run-down areas
20 October 2006
South China Morning Post

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY features are an integral part of the city's redevelopment programme. Over the years, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has worked closely with developers to upgrade the territory's run-down districts. The authority has announced some 30 projects that will integrate green concepts.

Big projects with a heavily green aspect are scheduled for Tai Kok Tsui, Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po, with about 2,580 households being affected by the renewal programme. Total compensation for families is estimated at HK$5 billion.

"Environmental protection is one of the provisions in our joint venture agreements with private developers," said Stephen Lam Wai-nang, district development director for the URA.

"But we don't have a standard policy on how it should be done because the sizes of the projects vary. We have a whole basket of stipulations for consideration for each project. It's up to the developers to appoint landscape consultants to go into the design details, such as what types of plants best suit certain places."

In Tai Kok Tsui a "green oasis" concept is being deployed for Fuk Tsun Street and Pine Street. Footpaths will be repaved and potted plants introduced at building sites. "It is a small project, but it will include some of our standard design features like street furniture, a sky garden for visual impact and free air flow. Tai Kok Tsui is a very run-down district, with lots of workshops and garages. There are ample opportunities for greening," Mr Lam said.

The authority's most ambitious environmental commitment will be the Kwun Tong town centre, which will feature a high proportion of greenery and open space.

The design and layout of the new buildings will allow for free air movement, which will bring in the breeze and help eliminate air pollutants. Residential buildings with podiums will be set back from main roads to reduce the impact of traffic noise and vehicle emissions.

The authority believes that more open space and fewer buildings will enhance the district's air quality.

All the design concepts for the new town centre factor in measures to check sound pollution. For example, hotel and office buildings between the existing Yue Man Square and Kwun Tong Road will serve as a sound barrier for the centre, checking noise from Kwun Tung Road traffic and the MTR.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:09 AM   #233
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New life for old districts
Job opportunities abound in the services industry

20 October 2006
South China Morning Post

CONSTRUCTION of new commercial and residential buildings has slowed since reaching a climax in the 1990s, when Hong Kong's property market experienced an unprecedented boom.

For this reason, redevelopment projects have become one of the major sources of job opportunities for professionals, technicians and workers, and have created abundant vacancies for people wanting to establish a long-term career in the property services industry.

Two major redevelopment schemes in Cherry Street, Tai Kok Tsui, and Yeung Uk Road, Tsuen Wan, under leading property developer Nan Fung Development, are typical examples.

The work will improve the living and working environments in these old districts, which are high on the agenda of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA).

The Cherry Street plan is a joint venture between Nan Fung and the URA.

Nan Fung is building three luxury 40- to 49-storey residential blocks and a small shopping mall. It is also committed to introducing modern community facilities, including a new residential care home for the elderly, streetscape improvements and widened footpaths.

Nan Fung managing director Donald Choi said the company needed to hire up to 300 people, including construction workers, to complete all the tasks by 2008.

The site has been under development since last year and about 100 professionals such as project managers, engineers, architects, technicians, administrative and support staff have been employed.

Additional employees including foremen, assistant foremen and building services management executives will be recruited during the project's middle and final stages.

"The operation involves many contractors and subcontractors, so it is hard to estimate the actual number of staff required, but I believe during the peak period we might be deploying 200 to 300 people," Mr Choi said.

Safety and environmental protection are important concerns in any construction work. Officers with special training in these areas are being appointed to prevent accidents and promote better living environments. "We are also concerned with saving natural resources," Mr Choi said.

"To cut down on construction waste, our officers advise using steel formwork, which is recyclable, instead of wood, in our building process."

As part of the joint venture provisions with the URA, Nan Fung is required to introduce green initiatives, and environmentally friendly design should be incorporated as far as possible. A notable feature of the Cherry Street plan is the building of a footbridge to connect to the Olympic station to provide a more convenient pedestrian environment.

"Apart from building a large green podium, we have multilevel gardens and street improvement work to do.

"Some footpaths will be repaved to give the area a facelift."

Mr Choi said that many professionals were being attracted to work in Macau to build hotels and casinos, and that had created extra demand in the job market. But he saw no difficulties finding the right candidates to fill the vacancies.

"We have received many applications for positions," Mr Choi said.

He said the pay trend for executives in the business had steadily increased, and that pay rises in the next two years would probably follow the gross domestic product growth rate.

Most external walls of the Cherry Street project's buildings are prefabricated in China and assembled in Hong Kong.

This practice is widely adopted by many local property developers to cut down on work processes and ensure that the quality is up to standard.

This pre-cast façade method involves moulding walls by mass production in mainland factories.

"This deprives many Hong Kong workers of job opportunities in a particular skill," Mr Choi said.

"Not surprisingly, labour unions are still complaining that many workers don't have enough work to do."

Construction of the 440-unit serviced apartments in Yeung Uk Road in Tsuen Wan is almost complete.

New Charm Management, the property management company under Nan Fung, will recruit up to 30 people next month or in December to fill senior ranks from resident managers and assistant resident managers to junior positions, such as service officers, security officers and room attendants.

"The serviced apartment block will be operated in the form of a trendy hotel apartment block, so people with services and hospitality experience are preferred in order to uphold the service quality and standards, though we also have in-house training.

"Remuneration will be in line with the market standard or above," Mr Choi said.

The 38-floor apartment building will offer sophisticated metropolitan living.

Features will include a variety of recreational facilities, such as a pool, poolside barbecue, jacuzzi and gymnasium. The site, originally an old factory building, is owned by Nan Fung.

The developer pulled it down to build serviced apartments to meet the URA's redevelopment plan along the waterfront area, where many dilapidated factories are being demolished to turn Tsuen Wan into a commercial and residential hub.

New developments include Nina Tower, the URA's Vision City and the forthcoming KCRC Tsuen Wan West station.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 04:13 PM   #234
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Plea to keep street traders in Kwun Tong
11 October 2006
South China Morning Post

The Urban Renewal Authority was urged yesterday not to sweep away small shop owners and street traders in favour of glittering malls in the Kwun Tong redevelopment.

Federation of Trade Unions legislator Chan Yuen-han said the authority should not only focus on economic development but also shoulder the responsibilities of social equity and environmental development in remodelling the crumbling former factory district.

"A good urban development plan could promote a community's sustainable development. I hope the authority can hear the voice of the grass-roots people and give them a chance to keep their rice bowls, instead of just stimulating upmarket commercial activities," Ms Chan said.

She submitted a proposal for the district's redevelopment yesterday - the last day of the authority's two-month public consultation over three concepts for the renewal of 5.3 hectares in the heart of Kwun Tong.

All three designs for the area, bounded by the MTR station, Hong Ning Road, and Hip Wo Street, feature high-rise office towers and hotels, residential blocks and a large underground transport terminal.

Ms Chan proposed the narrow streets of the old town be retained and Yue Man Square developed as a multi-functional area.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 05:06 PM   #235
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good! It's bad to demolish a lively neighbourhood on which many people base their urban lifestyle. It is better to demolish the worst buildings and upgrade the area part by part in a long term proces. That way you keep the area alive and you can make it stronger, better with a more unique identity.

Imagine how NYC would be if all old parts were demolished in the 70's and 80's replaced by huge malls and towers. Then there would not have been places like Soho, East Village, Chelsea or Meatpacking District.

So make areas like this strong by rdevellop it step by step, keeping the old atmosphrere and bringing in modern good buildings. This can grow the city more diverse, and diversitiy is the best thing cities can have...
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Old October 31st, 2006, 04:16 PM   #236
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Wedding Card Street gives up the battle
'I'm exhausted and helpless,' says last property owner after agreeing to sell to the renewal authority
31 October 2006
South China Morning Post



The battle to prevent the demolition of Wedding Card Street has ended with the decision by the last diehard resident to sell her family property to the Urban Renewal Authority.

"I'm exhausted and helpless. Being the person to put a full stop to the fight has been a difficult decision to make. The battle to save the street has been dragging on for three years," said Kam Fok Lai-ching. "My brother and I inherited this business from our late father. I cannot be selfish. I have to consider the feelings of my family and face the fact that there will be uncertainty in this family business if I continue the fight."

She said the campaign to save Wan Chai's Lee Tung Street - or Wedding Card Street, as it is more commonly known because of the number of shops printing and selling wedding cards - had highlighted the problems of redevelopment and its impact on the social network and character of old areas of the city.

She hoped the authorities had learned a lesson, especially with respect to those affected by the plan.

The Lands Department gazetted the resumption order for land in Lee Tung Street on August 5 last year, allowing it to take over properties from owners who refused to sell to the Urban Renewal Authority. When the government issued the initial order, the authority owned 80 per cent of property rights, but at the time of the resumption order it had 92 per cent in its hands.

Mrs Kam - who owned a 1,000-sq-ft shop on Amoy Street selling construction and renovation equipment - was ordered to appear in court last month to explain why she was occupying government land illegally.

The softly-spoken landlady became a symbol of the campaign to preserve the street shortly after authorities announced redevelopment plans in 2003.

She did not disclose how much she had received for her property, stressing that her problems had still not been resolved.

"My father has been doing business in Wan Chai for more than 30 years and this shop at Amoy Street has been operating for 16 years. I need a shop in Wan Chai that allows for parking, loading and unloading so we can continue this family business. But I haven't found one yet."

The redevelopment plan affects 54 buildings, 930 people and 647 property rights. Residents and shop owners formed a concern group called H15, after the project's name in the authority's file. H15 filed an alternative plan to the Town Planning Board early last year to demonstrate it was possible to preserve the old buildings, allowing residents to continue to live there without harming the street's redevelopment value. However, the board rejected the plan.

An appeal hearing for the plan has been scheduled for tomorrow, Friday and November 14.

A spokesman for the authority said it expected the project to proceed smoothly.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 10:38 PM   #237
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Legendary bathhouse forced to pull the plug
Haunt of the rich, powerful and corrupt closes its door after 57 years, a victim of redevelopment
3 October 2006
South China Morning Post

A Shanghainese bathhouse that for more than 50 years was a home from home for tycoons, corrupt police and anyone needing a good rub-down has closed its doors - a victim of urban renewal.

Located at the corner of Prince Edward Road West and Reclamation Street, the Shanghai Tung Kee Yuk Tak Chee Bathhouse - the first facility of its type in the city and probably the last prominent one - welcomed its last customers yesterday. The building in which it is housed is scheduled for redevelopment, and after 57 years of operation, its owners have no plans to open elsewhere.

Most visitors coming through the doors yesterday could only guess at the bathhouse's rich history - the area it occupies has been in decline for years and its décor now shows the kind of wear that imminent demolition engenders.

According to its owner, 76-year-old Fan Kwong, the bathhouse has played host to well-known figures including late tycoon Lim Por-yen, notoriously corrupt police sergeant Lui Lok and renowned film director Li Han-chiang.

Since word of the bathhouse's demise spread, Mr Fan has been inundated with old and new customers seeking to capture a final glimpse of the historic bathhouse.

Mr Fan took over the business from his father, who founded it in 1949 after fleeing Shanghai when the Communist Party took power. The family still runs a bathhouse in Shanghai that recently marked its 102nd anniversary.

"Shanghainese liked enjoying life," Mr Fan said. "Our bathhouse quickly gained a lot of business and a good reputation as many Shanghainese came to Hong Kong in the '50s and '60s."

Lim was one of the family's VIP guests and a frequent customer for more than 30 years, visiting about once a month, even in the latter part of his life, Mr Fan said.

"Mr Lim ran a textile business and had some Shanghainese friends who brought him to the bathhouse. He was very friendly. He had a painful foot, so he often came for pedicures."

Mr Fan also remembered serving corrupt policeman Lui, one of the "four great sergeants" who used to run the city, and late film director Li.

"Sergeant Lui often came after work for relaxing. Many gang members came to meet him. They often paid the bill for him," Mr Fan said.

"Li usually came late at night. Sometimes, after bathing and massage, he slept for several hours until the early morning and left to begin shooting again."

The bathhouse has witnessed a lot of changes in the city, its business going up and down along with the Hong Kong economy.

"The '70s and '80s were our golden period. But the business slid after the financial crisis in 1997, and we hardly survived through the Sars outbreak.

"Unluckily, after surviving so many difficulties, we still have to close it down now," said the bathhouse owner, who plans to retire to Canada.
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Old October 31st, 2006, 10:49 PM   #238
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A group of artists is capturing Hong Kong street life before it's demolished in the name of urban renewal
31 October 2006
South China Morning Post

ARTIST STELLA SO Man-yee's love affair with the city's tenement buildings, or tong lau, began with an award-winning flight of fancy. Very Fantastic, So's animated short about a little girl who dreams up an imaginary world in her tenement home, not only won the top prize at the Independent Short Film and Video Awards in 2002, it opened her eyes to hidden treasures in the old neighbourhoods.

So says that research for her animated work - she chose a tong lau for the setting to create a feeling of space - required her to spend a lot of time exploring ageing districts such as Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po.

"I realised many of the buildings are very beautiful and full of colour. And I love the spaciousness of tong lau," she says.

Since then, the 29-year-old design graduate has been photographing and drawing life in the old tenements; and the results are being compiled in a book that she hopes to publish early next year.

"I want to show the beauty of Hong Kong in my illustrations. They aren't British-style buildings, but very local. These old places give me loads of inspiration for my work, unlike new high-rises."

But it isn't just the nostalgic charm that is stirring creative juices. A number of artists including So are also fired by the destruction of communities in the name of urban renewal. So has heard many disheartening stories from residents during her research. "The more I know, the sadder I feel," she says. "These urban renewal projects are not 'people-centred' at all. Residents are forced to live further and further away, and the buildings are replaced by luxury high-rises."

She also cites the example of the so-called Blue House, a Grade I historic building that has stood for more than 80 years in Stone Nullah Lane and once housed the only English school in Wan Chai before the second world war.

Some families have lived in the four-storey block for four generations. Among the occupants is an osteopath's clinic that grew out of a martial arts school set up in the 1950s by disciples of the kung fu master Wong Fei-hung.

Yet, these examples of living history are being forced to move out as the government takes over the building as part of its "revitalisation" efforts, So says.

In March, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) declared that the pre-war tong lau would be redeveloped as a tourism site, incorporating a Chinese tea house, herbal medicine shops and various other retail outlets, and residents would have to be "evacuated".

"I feel very angry and helpless," says So. Although the main objectives of urban renewal are to improve residents' quality of life while preserving local characteristics and social networks, "the government isn't concerned about the people", she says. "There's nothing I can do to change the situation. But I hope my illustrations can influence people."

Such inner-city woes have driven photographer Alexis Ip Ka-wai to similar efforts. Two of his works - The Old Memories, a ceramic sculpture inspired by tenement blocks, and The Blue House, a photograph of the building - were selected for display in last year's Hong Kong Art Biennial. Ip, an art teacher at a secondary school, is also highly critical of the commercial makeover on Stone Nullah Lane.

"Although the Blue House will be preserved for cultural tourism, without the people inside it's just a shell without soul," he says.

The 40-year-old first began taking photographs of vanishing Hong Kong two years ago with Lee Tung Street, where its wedding cards and other speciality businesses have been forced to make way for high-end residential blocks.

Since then, he has photographed neighbourhoods in Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, Central and Sheung Wan threatened by the government's renewal projects. "Some things have to go, as our society is advancing," Ip says. "However, if a building can be revitalised by maintenance, why do you have to pull it down?"

To help young people appreciate their heritage, he took 26 students on a tour to photograph Central and Sheung Wan during this summer's Youth Arts Festival. "The old areas are an eye-opener to the students. They didn't know there were such old buildings in Central, a commercial area. It was a really fresh experience for them," he says.

More recently, Ip has shifted his focus to Sham Shui Po, where he's developing a project about its small stores.

"The visuals are very rich. Things in new districts are so ordered and tidy, they lack a sense of humanity," he says.

So has turned her attention to the Star Ferry pier and clock tower, which feature in her more recent illustrations.

"I hope the clock tower and other heritage buildings can be preserved," she says. "But what we can do to change the government's mind is limited, unless tens of thousands of people go to the street."

Such reasoning may have driven some artists to take a more active role in community issues, while others such as Ip and So continue to see themselves primarily as witnesses to change.

From merely observing Lee Tung Street's residents fight to save their community, video artist Lee Wai-yi has been moved to give them a hand. This week, for instance, she's helping to organise a gathering for former residents in the now emptied Lee Tung Street on Thursday, as well as an art and video exhibition on their struggles in Chater Garden on Friday.

"As artists, we are concerned about cultural issues," says Lee, who began documenting the impact of Wan Chai's urban renewal drive on Lee Tung Street residents two years ago. She has been attending hearings of the H15 Concern Group's appeal to the Town Planning Board against renewal plans to document key phases in their battle. "Many of the {hellip} projects are destroying the local culture, community spirit and values, turning everyone to [an] isolated world concerned only about money."

A member of the art collective VideoPower, Lee says her group has been filming in areas such as Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai, where they rallied other artists to declare their opposition to the Blue House's transformation.

"How can you chase residents from their home and invite outsiders to take their place and engage in so-called cultural activities that are not related to the building at all? It's not acceptable," she says. "[The government] doesn't consider the people who have been living in the area for years."

The community network and public space is disappearing gradually, Lee says.

"You can see that in some newly developed districts {hellip} there's little life in the streets," she says. "Every district is the same, with no character. This [urban renewal] reduces interaction and communication between people; it isolates families and individuals.

"There may be fewer squabbles within the community, but only because people don't talk to each other. I'd rather have a testy relationship than have no contact with other people."

Despite the odds against changing the approach to development, Lee says she's been heartened by residents' resolve. Rather than holding out for more cash, many residents just want to remain in the districts where they have lived all their lives.

"If you just read the reports and proposals published by the URA, you would think there were no problems and the renewal projects are a godsend," she says. "But there are other voices in the community that should be heard."
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Old November 1st, 2006, 01:13 PM   #239
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Thanks for that background insight again hkskyline! It makes what I said in post # 235 stronger/more true.

I love the tower block devellopments in HK, but they should keep more old neighbourhoods with their businesses, keeping the areas diverse and attractive in the long term. Diverse in business types, people and buildings.
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Old November 1st, 2006, 04:07 PM   #240
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim de Bruijn View Post
Thanks for that background insight again hkskyline! It makes what I said in post # 235 stronger/more true.

I love the tower block devellopments in HK, but they should keep more old neighbourhoods with their businesses, keeping the areas diverse and attractive in the long term. Diverse in business types, people and buildings.
Preserving the local heritage is a major theme that Hong Kong planners are now hearing from the public. The desire to raze and build sleek and glassy structures is not as strong as before. A decade ago, developers would have no problem expropriating and bulldozing at will. Today, redeveloping the older areas in the local context is becoming a major talking point.
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