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Old October 24th, 2005, 12:52 PM   #61
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The Fruits of Hong Kong's Redevelopment Projects

Did you know many of today's tallest skyscrapers rose out of urban redevelopment projects? Here are a few :

The Centre, 1998



Langham Place, 2004



AIG, 2005



Cheung Kong Center, 1999

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Old October 25th, 2005, 09:13 AM   #62
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Suen dashes building hopes

Cash-strapped owners of dilapidated inner city apartments have had their hopes dashed with housing chief Michael Suen saying the odds are against most such buildings being earmarked for redevelopment.

Winnie Chong
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cash-strapped owners of dilapidated inner city apartments have had their hopes dashed with housing chief Michael Suen saying the odds are against most such buildings being earmarked for redevelopment.

Suen was responding to concerns over a government directive last Friday that flat owners must inspect and maintain private buildings more than 30 years old. Owners argue the costs involved will be prohibitive and instead want the government to redevelop the old buildings. Owners of flats earmarked for redevelopment do not have to pay costly maintenance fees but instead are entitled to compensation from the Urban Renewal Authority.

However, Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Suen told the Talkabout radio program Monday that flat owners should not rely on government redevelopment as an alternative to having their buildings repaired.

"There are some 10,000 private flats in the territory. The areas set aside for redevelopment by the Urban Renewal Authority are small,' he said, adding that "very few" flat owners could expect their buildings to be included in URA redevelopment plans. "Most of the buildings, more than 99 percent, will not be included in the redevelopment plan. So, it is not a reasonable expectation that the URA will redevelop so many buildings," Suen said.

Asked if owners' corporations will have to bear the costs for individual owners who refuse or cannot pay for maintenance, Suen said the main public concern in the matter is building safety.

He emphasized that maintenance is the responsibility of all flat owners and should not be borne solely by the owners' corporations.
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Old October 29th, 2005, 08:35 PM   #63
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Town Planning Board requests further study on Oil Street site
Friday, October 28, 2005
Government Press Release



The Metro Planning Committee of the Town Planning Board today (October 28) considered an application for rezoning the Government's sale site at Oil Street, North Point, submitted by the Designing Hong Kong Harbour District.

"Members welcomed the effort made by the applicant in submitting the rezoning proposal, and supported the general principles of providing more open space at this harbourfront location and adopting a stepped building height profile. Members also agreed there was a need to review the development parameters for the site to take account of changing community aspirations, the board's vision and goals for Victoria Harbour, as well as the latest harbour planning principles and urban design guidelines," a spokesman for the board said.

"However, Members considered that the proposal as submitted would constrain the layout and design of the future development and might not be the best option for this harbourfront site. There could be other ways to achieve the same planning objectives and a better development scheme. Hence, the committee agreed not to approve the rezoning application," he added.

The spokesman said the committee had requested the Planning Department to carry out a detailed study to determine the appropriate development parameters which could meet community aspirations and prevailing planning guidelines and principles, with a view to amending the planning brief for the site previously endorsed by the board. The public will be consulted in the course of the preparation of the revised planning brief before the board's endorsement.

"Given the statutory requirement for submission of a master layout plan for the future development under the current "CDA" zoning, there would be sufficient control to allow the board to scrutinise any proposed scheme based on the revised planning brief and to ensure integrated design and development. The provisions under the Town Planning Ordinance for publication of such planning application for public comments would also ensure the public would be engaged throughout the process. Hence, the committee did not see the need to amend the zoning of the site, as proposed by the applicant," the spokesman explained.

The application submitted to the Board in July this year was mainly for rezoning part of the site from "Comprehensive Development Area" ("CDA") and "CDA(1)" to "Open Space", reducing the maximum total gross floor area from 123,470 square metres to 68,800 square metres and imposing stepped height limits on the remaining "CDA" zone.
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Old October 29th, 2005, 08:37 PM   #64
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More information of the Oil Street development from the Chinese press :

價值百億地王 政府見財化水
油街規劃推倒重來

29/10/2005


城市規劃委員會昨日召開會議,研究北角油街原物料供應處及臨海地皮規劃的修改建議,會議否決了由多個關注維港發展團體提出的規劃建議,但接納應在原規劃撥出更多休憩用地及減低樓宇高度,委員會亦將規劃大綱發還規劃署重新諮詢。此舉推翻了市場估值達一百億元的油街地皮發展計畫,而新規劃由諮詢到重提城規會研究,估計最少要兩年才能重投市場。

這個早在九七年獲城市規劃委員會通過的發展大綱圖,原可興建住宅及商廈,可發展樓面面積達十二萬三千四百平方米,由於坐擁維港靚景、又是港島地鐵沿線的罕有商住綜合發展區,多年來均穩居「地王」席位,發展商多番勾地,均因政府惜地如金而不達標。政府內部曾評估,豪宅市道交投暢旺,刺激市場對貴價地皮的需求,估計油街地皮可為政府帶來豐厚收入。豈料城規會昨日駁回油街規劃大綱予政府重議。

重新諮詢延遲兩年發展
由於規劃署要重新諮詢居民意見,將來的新建議或會與修訂地積比率、發展密度、高度限制等發展參數掛,一旦修訂參數,土地價值勢將受到影響。

與多個關注維港發展團體一起爭取重新規劃的立法會議員蔡素玉表示,昨日的決定已推翻政府本來的規劃,由於規劃署要重新諮詢市民意見,整個發展項目估計要延後兩年以上,她說:「幅地已經勾地表,隨時會賣出,政府以為貪快過關,誰知現在要從頭來過。」

建議增加休憩用地面積
今年七月,「共創我們的海港區」、「想創維港」及東區區議會等團體,先後就原規劃提出反建議,要求大減住宅及商業大樓的發展地積比率,總發展樓面面積減至六萬八千八百平方米,較原來規劃減少約四成,臨海樓宇亦須呈階梯形發展,最近海的樓宇僅高三十層,其後的樓宇可高四十二層等,地皮內規劃作休憩用地的面積亦應大增。

這個建議與油街原來規劃分別甚大,按原來建議,油街可建樓高達五十多層的大廈,但團體批評會造成屏風效應,阻擋內街空氣流通,結果關注維港發展的團體與地區組織攜手,一致向城規會提反對意見,終成功推翻油街原規劃,政府的如意算盤亦打不響。
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Old November 7th, 2005, 01:54 AM   #65
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上環老街翻新 興建特色廣場
2005年11月7日


市建局與路政署合作,完成上環街景改善計劃,重鋪永樂街、文咸街東、西街等傳統「海味街」的地面,並更換街道名牌等。中西區區議會亦舉辦假日行人坊,擺設特色攤檔吸引人流。(賴偉家攝)



【明報專訊】市區重建局動用1000萬元,完成上環街道翻新工作,替錯綜複雜的橫街老巷重鋪地磚及更換街道名牌,並興建特色廣場,供假日表演,市民可輕鬆穿越這些充滿歷史風味的舊街觀光購物,市建局將在油尖旺等地區進行市區改善工程。
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Old November 8th, 2005, 04:57 PM   #66
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Training hotel to be built at Polytechnic University for training
5 October 2005

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is planning to invest HK$500 million to redevelop the existing teaching staff quarters into a four-star teaching and training hotel. It is expected that the hotel will be completed by the end of 2008, providing about 300 rooms for training.

The teaching hotel, covering an area of 28,000 sqm, will include a teaching building, a teaching hotel and a teaching staff dormitory. The president of Polytechnic University, Poon Chung-kwong said that as the hotel will be used for teaching and research purposes, rental rate of hotel rooms will be set according to that of other four-star hotels in the same district. Although the hotel charges room rate, it does not intend to compete with other high-end hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Hong Kong Economic Journal
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Old November 9th, 2005, 04:18 PM   #67
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Acute shortage of factories forecast
9 November 2005
South China Morning Post

The shortage of industrial properties is set to become acute as more industrialists, eager to take advantage of the third phase of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) next year, acquire units to set up satellite factories in Hong Kong, according to a report by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

The report, on the performance of the industrial property market in the third quarter, attributed the shortage partly to redevelopment of premises for alternative use, and a lack of new supply.

"Demand for factories is forecast to pick up as some industrialists, particularly those in the garment industry, are acquiring units to establish satellite factories to harness beneficial trade arrangements in the SAR," the report said.

The third quarter of the year saw the rental and capital value of factory properties going up by 5.2 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, CBRE said.

The report also highlighted the fact that the supply of warehouse facilities was fast running out thanks to the increase in Hong Kong's external trade, especially in prime locations such as Kwai Chung and Tsuen Wan.

The vacancy level averaged 2.3 per cent in the third quarter. And in the near future, there would not be any new supply, said the report citing the Rating and Valuation Department.

This was forcing some businessmen to consider using factory premises as alternatives for storage and warehousing which, the report said, could further worsen the shortage of factory properties.

"Much of the existing industrial supply, particularly in Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong, which used to support the former Kai Tak Airport, is deemed obsolete and has been earmarked for redevelopment. As a result, factory capital values are expected to maintain high levels on the back of continued interest from end-users and yield-driven investors," the report said.

Meanwhile, the latest quarterly review from DTZ Debenham Tie Leung said the industrial and warehouse markets had benefited from increasing demand in the logistics sector. The average prime yields of industrial properties were around 6 per cent to 8 per cent.
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Old November 11th, 2005, 04:28 PM   #68
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Demolish our flats too, say owners Hoi Ming Court residents want a ruling to include their property in Tai Kok Tsui redevelopment
10 November 2005
South China Morning Post

Owners of a residential block in the middle of an Urban Renewal Authority (URA) project have appealed to lawmakers in their fight to be included in the redevelopment.

The Tai Kok Tsui building has been left in limbo since the developer baulked at the price demanded by some owners for their flats and aborted a planned buyout.

Families living in Hoi Ming Court say they now face years of noise and dust while three 39-storey towers are built around them.

A group of owners petitioned legislators outside the Legislative Council yesterday.

They are urging the URA to exercise its discretionary power to include Hoi Ming Court in the redevelopment and buy their flats under its rule setting compensation at the price equivalent to that of seven-year-old flats. The owners want this done before Nan Fung Development starts building the towers in Cherry Street, foundations for which were finished in May.

Nan Fung called off a buyout of Hoi Ming Court in July after five owners sought $10,000 per sq ft for their flats. It has 30 residential flats and four commercial units.

Owners who agreed to sell said they were disappointed that the deal fell through after efforts to persuade the objecting owners to change their minds failed.

"This puts us in a tragic position as they won't buy us out," one owner, a Mrs Cheung, said yesterday. "We have no choice but to move as two young kids cannot live in this environment. It is very dusty here and the project will take several years to construct."

The URA said it would not agree to the owners' demands and make an exception because Hoi Ming Court was not old enough to be eligible for redevelopment.

It said amending the site boundary of the existing project would affect not only the approved statutory scheme plan but also the basis of its development agreement with Nan Fung Development.

The Cherry Street project will include 520 flats when completed in 2008. The 48,500 sq ft site, next to Olympic Station, has a gross floor area of 459,000 sq ft.

In July last year when the project was first awarded, analysts estimated the project was worth about $2.1 billion. Some have suggested the inclusion of Hoi Mo Court would greatly increase the project value.

Yau Tsim Mong District Council member Lam Ho-yeung, who had been helping the affected owners until the collapse of Nan Fung's buyout, said Hoi Ming Court was an example of the problems faced by flat owners and developers in the redevelopment of old areas.

Nan Fung Development director Donald Choi Wun-hing said they had offered the owners up to double the market price for the flats but some were simply greedy. He warned they might not want to buy the flats even if all the owners now agreed to sell because it would involve substantial changes to the designs and require government approval, which could take two years.
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Old November 11th, 2005, 04:29 PM   #69
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Developer loses fight over SoHo renewal
Albert Wong
10 November 2005
Hong Kong Standard

One of Hong Kong's largest property developers, Henderson Land, has lost a High Court battle against an urban renewal project in the trendy SoHo area that was first proposed eight years ago.

Since late 1997, the site, which includes Staunton Street and Wing Lee Street, was designated a Comprehensive Development Area covering 4,400 square meters.

The Urban Renewal Authority planned to provide about 520 flats, 2,800 sqm of retail space, about 855 sqm of open space and a memorial square in honor of Sun Yat Sen, who once lived in the area.

But various lots of property in Staunton Street, Wa In Fong East and Cheung Wo Lane _ all of which were incorporated into the development area _ are owned by Henderson Land.

The property giant has been lobbying the Town Planning Board to remove its properties from the scheme since 2003.

Residents, meanwhile, who would be eligible for redevelopment compensation, have been protesting about delayed payouts.

Of 183 households that may be affected by the project, 60 are on Henderson sites. More than 400 people have written to the board to approve the renewal scheme.

The developer initiated its judicial review after the Town Planning Board in March 2004 decided not to accept their proposed amendments. Henderson claimed the board had failed to balance the interests of private landowners.

Justice Carlye Chu Wednesday ruled that the board is not an ``appeals board'' and does not have the power nor the duty to adjudicate.

But residents will still have to wait indefinitely for their payouts.

A spokesman for the Urban Renewal Authority said the board has yet to complete its approval of the scheme.

Even if there is no appeal by the developer, the board will still have to submit its decision to the Executive Council to await further approval before the authority can acquire the land and pay residents.

After the publication by the Planning and Lands Bureau of an ``Urban Renewal Scheme'' in 2001, the SoHo area was put on the priority list for redevelopment.

In March 2003, the authority submitted its draft plans to the board for consideration. Henderson Land made its objections to the board in December 2003 and again the following March. Their proposals were rejected.

In a judicial review, Henderson Land claimed the interests of private property owners were being unlawfully subsumed by the Urban Renewal Authority, especially since the developer had already been given permission by the Building Authority and the Town Planning Board itself to conduct its own developments.

It further claimed the board had been unreasonable in refusing to amend the scheme, since there was no evidence to suggest that the removal of Henderson properties would jeopardize it.

``The planning permission previously approved by the board,'' for Henderson to conduct its own development, ``does not give rise to a presumption in favor of preserving the applicants' rights,'' Chu ruled.

The board's opinion that the redevelopment scheme is not viable without Henderson's properties ``are matters for planning judgment, which the board is entitled to take,'' the judge ruled.

She noted that the Urban Renewal Authority is also obliged by law to take due care of its finances.

If the renewal scheme cannot proceed and generate wealth for the authority, ``public interest will be affected in that there will not be urban renewal either in the scheme area or other areas,'' she noted.

The Town Planning Board welcomed the ruling.
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Old November 11th, 2005, 04:36 PM   #70
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Investors eye Kwun Tong potential
SHKP expected to play a big role in redevelopment plans, as property transactions in the area rise
9 November 2005
South China Morning Post

Investors are turning their gaze on Kwun Tong, where the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is planning a $25 billion project to rejuvenate the ageing district and make it a commercial and retail hub for eastern Kowloon.

The new-look Kwun Tong could have, among many other highly contemporary features, underground streets for shopping modelled after those in Tokyo's Ginza district, tunnels for vehicles and an open-air amphitheatre.

The project could take up to 10 years or more to complete, the URA has said.

The first step in the project would be to clear the area between the Kwun Tong Government Offices building in Tung Yan Street and the nearby bus terminal.

The project - Hong Kong's biggest redevelopment ever - will cover about 5.1 hectares of land in the heart of Kwun Tong, bounded by the MTR station, Hong Ning Road and Hip Wo Street.

About 5,000 residents living in 23 run-down blocks dating from the 1950s would have to relocate. Compensation for residents alone could cost the URA more than $10 billion, according to initial estimates.

A huge rehousing exercise is also expected. One of the options under consideration is to offer affected residents flats under the Housing Authority home ownership scheme.

There are about 16,000 completed home ownership scheme flats lying idle following a government ban on sales that aims to shore up the private property market.

The URA has set up an advisory committee to gather the views of residents on what they would like Kwun Tong to become. This approach to redevelopment would entail several rounds of discussion before the project was approved.

Private developer Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), which has a landmark office-cum-retailing complex opposite the redevelopment site, is set to benefit from the Kwun Tong facelift.

Property consultant Lau Chun-kong, a regional director at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: "Obviously, the project would help to boost the profile of Sun Hung Kai Properties. I would not be too surprised if the developer played a more active role in the redevelopment project."

SHKP has long been a key player in Kwun Tong.

In the 1990s, the company started on its Millennium City project, a complex with grade-A offices and stylish retail shops near the Kwun Tong MTR station.

At present, the developer is supplying about three million square feet, almost two-thirds of the district's total, of grade-A office space in Kwun Tong.

In March, SHKP opened its APM shopping mall in eastern Kowloon, which has received more than 40 million visitors so far. About 70 per cent of the visitors came from outside Kwun Tong.

The developer has a successful track record of adding value to old districts, one example being Chelsea Court, near the Tsuen Wan industrial area.

"Kwun Tong has started to develop into a regional shopping and commercial centre," said Centaline Surveyors managing director Victor Lai.

"The district will see a dramatic revival with impetus from the redevelopment."

He said investors had their eye on the district, and the number of property transactions in the area has been on the rise. A 2,100 sq ft ground-floor shop lot at No 10 Tsun Yip Street, adjacent to the APM mall, recently sold for $10.5 million, according to Centaline Property Agency records. The lot was last traded at $6.5 million a year ago.

High-profile investor Lobo Law Ka-po recently bought several ground floor retail lots at Yue Man Square for $115 million, according to reports.

Maureen Fung, a general manager at Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency, said the big redevelopment project would brighten up Kwun Tong.

"We believe the redevelopment could benefit the whole district," she said.

The planning application for the Kwun Tong redevelopment is expected to be submitted to the Town Planning Board next year. The URA hopes to start acquiring properties by March 2007.

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 570,000, Kwun Tong has become a focal point for the Commission on Poverty, a government body set up to explore ways to help deprived groups.

Elected Kwun Tong district council member Wilson Or Chong-shing, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, accused the URA of dragging its feet.

"We are disappointed that the authority chooses to have more talks but not start the redevelopment sooner," Mr Or said.

"The project has been discussed for decades and the views of the residents cannot be made clearer. Some residents fear they might have to stay in their run-down homes indefinitely if there continues to be all talk and no action."
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Old November 11th, 2005, 04:48 PM   #71
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Kwun Tong's $25b 'rebirth' begins - The huge undertaking, covering 1,600 property rights, aims to breath new life into the run-down industrial district
5 November 2005
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong's biggest redevelopment project kicked off yesterday amid predictions it will cost $25 billion and take 10 years.

The bill just to buy properties and pay compensation in Kwun Tong town centre is likely to cost $10 billion as the Urban Renewal Authority project rejuvenates the run-down industrial district.

The authority promised the redevelopment would bring more open space and a greater range of facilities, while old trees in the town centre would not be sacrificed. It refused, however, to disclose the development density.

It wants to submit a development plan to the Town Planning Board in June and start purchasing by March 2007.

David Lung Ping-yee, who chairs the authority's Kwun Tong district advisory committee, said it had to study how to come up with such a huge amount.

Speaking after the committee's first meeting, Professor Lung said the most difficult part was to secure the co-operation of various government departments, given the widely differing views on how the project should proceed.

Professor Lung, who heads the University of Hong Kong's architecture department, said the positioning of the new Kwun Tong was the authority's priority.

"Everyone at the meeting agreed it was not just a Kwun Tong issue, it was a city-wide project. There were views that Kwun Tong should be the commercial and financial centre of east Kowloon."

The project, which affects 23 buildings and 1,635 property rights, was announced early in 1998 by the dissolved Land Development Corporation. It was passed on to the Urban Renewal Authority after it was set up three years later.

A survey commissioned by the authority found that most residents thought the buildings were so run down and the living environment so dire that they preferred a complete redevelopment over renovation.

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.

Professor Lung said the authority would listen to those residents affected and stressed consensus was the prerequisite of making any master plan.

A dozen residents attending the meeting sought guarantees that the project would start at the earliest and not be put on hold again.

Their demands include purchase and compensation offers to all those affected simultaneously, contrary to the authority's plan to roll out the project in phases.

Professor Lung vowed the authority would balance the interests of various parties, such as residents, shopkeepers, hawkers and minibus drivers.
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Old November 12th, 2005, 05:49 PM   #72
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More information of the Oil Street development from the Chinese press :

價值百億地王 政府見財化水
油街規劃推倒重來

29/10/2005


城市規劃委員會昨日召開會議,研究北角油街原物料供應處及臨海地皮規劃的修改建議,會議否決了由多個關注維港發展團體提出的規劃建議,但接納應在原規劃撥出更多休憩用地及減低樓宇高度,委員會亦將規劃大綱發還規劃署重新諮詢。此舉推翻了市場估值達一百億元的油街地皮發展計畫,而新規劃由諮詢到重提城規會研究,估計最少要兩年才能重投市場。

這個早在九七年獲城市規劃委員會通過的發展大綱圖,原可興建住宅及商廈,可發展樓面面積達十二萬三千四百平方米,由於坐擁維港靚景、又是港島地鐵沿線的罕有商住綜合發展區,多年來均穩居「地王」席位,發展商多番勾地,均因政府惜地如金而不達標。政府內部曾評估,豪宅市道交投暢旺,刺激市場對貴價地皮的需求,估計油街地皮可為政府帶來豐厚收入。豈料城規會昨日駁回油街規劃大綱予政府重議。

重新諮詢延遲兩年發展
由於規劃署要重新諮詢居民意見,將來的新建議或會與修訂地積比率、發展密度、高度限制等發展參數掛,一旦修訂參數,土地價值勢將受到影響。

與多個關注維港發展團體一起爭取重新規劃的立法會議員蔡素玉表示,昨日的決定已推翻政府本來的規劃,由於規劃署要重新諮詢市民意見,整個發展項目估計要延後兩年以上,她說:「幅地已經勾地表,隨時會賣出,政府以為貪快過關,誰知現在要從頭來過。」

建議增加休憩用地面積
今年七月,「共創我們的海港區」、「想創維港」及東區區議會等團體,先後就原規劃提出反建議,要求大減住宅及商業大樓的發展地積比率,總發展樓面面積減至六萬八千八百平方米,較原來規劃減少約四成,臨海樓宇亦須呈階梯形發展,最近海的樓宇僅高三十層,其後的樓宇可高四十二層等,地皮內規劃作休憩用地的面積亦應大增。

這個建議與油街原來規劃分別甚大,按原來建議,油街可建樓高達五十多層的大廈,但團體批評會造成屏風效應,阻擋內街空氣流通,結果關注維港發展的團體與地區組織攜手,一致向城規會提反對意見,終成功推翻油街原規劃,政府的如意算盤亦打不響。
I hate those NIMBY!!!!!!!!!!
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Old November 13th, 2005, 05:35 PM   #73
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Rejected Wan Chai street renewal scheme wins award
12 November 2005
South China Morning Post

Campaigners may have lost their battle to save Wan Chai's "Wedding Card Street", but their efforts have won recognition from the city's professional planners.

The Hong Kong Institute of Planners has awarded a silver medal to an alternative plan for Lee Tung Street produced by a community group.

The awards adjudicating panel said the "people-oriented" scheme - which aimed at "creating a sustainable Wan Chai" - was a good example of solving development problems by the community, even though it was ultimately rejected by the Town Planning Board in August.

"The submission was significant in heralding a new era of planning professionalism which has not hitherto existed in Hong Kong," it said, announcing the award. "As a local pioneer of advocacy planning in the territory, the process marked a departure from the top-down or developer-led convention."

The proposal was devised jointly by affected residents and shop owners with professional volunteers as an alternative to the Urban Renewal Authority plan for a standard high-rise development.

It included the maintenance and renovation of some tenement buildings in Lee Tung Street, renovation of the street as a pedestrian area, five new apartment blocks and the preservation of pre-war buildings in Queen's Road East.

"In spite of the concern about practicality and that the scheme might push the traffic problems to other parts of the district, the project was commendable as a grass-roots initiative to reach a reasonable scheme accommodating community interests."

Planner Kenneth To Lap-kei, who helped devise the proposal, said he was pleased with the award.

"We are happy that the efforts of residents' participation have been recognised. It also shows that the URA is impenetrably thickheaded as a lot of people are made to suffer because urban redevelopment has been badly handled," he said.

Four other entries were given Certificates of Merit in the annual awards: MTR Corporation's "Master Layout Plan for MTR Tung Chung Station CDA"; the Urban Renewal Authority's "URA Malloy Street Project for Conservation and Revitalisation"; the Planning Department's "Development of 3D Technology in Planning Department and its achievements in improving planning practice and enhancing public participation"; and Urbis Limited's "Xiang Zhou To Tang Jia and Qianshan Waterfront Districts, Zhuhai City".

Eleven entries were submitted.
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Old November 15th, 2005, 04:45 PM   #74
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Rules cannot be bent for a tower in limbo
11 November 2005
South China Morning Post

Private property rights are sacrosanct. But the unfortunate situation which has arisen at Hoi Ming Court shows what can happen if some are prepared to push their rights too far. For more than a decade, the 16-storey residential building was the jewel in a dilapidated part of Tai Kok Tsui. Amid a sea of crumbling blocks, it was the only one that was redeveloped, providing its owners with accommodation that was a cut above the rest. Ironically, their nightmare began when the Urban Renewal Authority decided to redevelop the area.

Fair means were used in an attempt to persuade the occupants to move out so the whole area could be redeveloped. Developer Nan Fung was generous when trying to buy the flats, offering way above the market price. Securing the building would make the redevelopment bigger and more profitable.

But five owners held out for what can only be regarded as astronomical prices, so the developer decided to abandon the acquisition. Instead, it has proceeded with the redevelopment by leaving Hoi Ming Court as it is. Even if the five owners were to change their minds now, Nan Fung has said it would not be interested in striking a deal because modifying the plans could put back the project by two years. By now, the owners have suffered serious noise and dust pollution as the blocks around them were demolished. Several more years of the same await them as construction of new blocks takes place. When the work is completed in 2008, Hoi Ming Court will be dwarfed by three blocks of between 43 and 50 storeys.

Those owners who want to sell have called on the Urban Renewal Authority to include Hoi Ming Court in the redevelopment, so that it could use its statutory powers to forcibly acquire the properties of those who are unwilling to sell. But it is difficult to see why the authority should accede to the request. As the building is relatively new, compulsory acquisition cannot be justified. If the authority were to bend the rules to favour the majority of residents who are willing to sell, it would set a very bad precedent.

Although the owners who refuse to sell in this case might be said to be motivated by greed, the market rate cannot be applied to every situation. A person's emotional attachment to their property can be priceless. The essence of private property rights is that no one should lightly be forced to give up their property for an unacceptable price. It is a right they can only be required to yield when there is a stronger competing interest. That is why the law provides that compulsory acquisition of private property can only be undertaken by a statutory authority for a genuine public purpose.

Hoi Ming Court does not pass this test. Had good sense prevailed - and all residents agreed - everyone would have been richer and happier. Sadly, this did not happen. But the residents' plight is no excuse to stretch the law.
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Last edited by hkskyline; November 15th, 2005 at 04:53 PM.
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Old November 15th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #75
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Investors eye Kwun Tong potential
SHKP expected to play a big role in redevelopment plans, as property transactions in the area rise
9 November 2005
South China Morning Post

The new-look Kwun Tong could have, among many other highly contemporary features, underground streets for shopping modelled after those in Tokyo's Ginza district, tunnels for vehicles and an open-air amphitheatre.
What undeground streets are they talking about? Ginza is primarily a traditional European-ambience shopping street. On Sundays it's even closed to cars. And there are no underground streets there!
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Old November 17th, 2005, 02:01 AM   #76
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What undeground streets are they talking about? Ginza is primarily a traditional European-ambience shopping street. On Sundays it's even closed to cars. And there are no underground streets there!

Ginza has small underground arcades (mini-shopping malls). I've been into one before. But then I think that if they say Shinjuku, it will be better.
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard
YIMBY - Yes In My Back Yard
LULU – Locally Unwanted Land Use.
NOPE – Not On Planet Earth
BANANA – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

Anymore????
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Old November 20th, 2005, 10:46 PM   #77
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Bid to preserve Soho magic

Now that Hong Kong's famous Wedding Card Street has officially become a developer's playground, four long- term residents of the Soho area of Central are fighting to save their community from the same fate.

Albert Wong
Hong Kong Standard
Monday, November 21, 2005



Now that Hong Kong's famous Wedding Card Street has officially become a developer's playground, four long- term residents of the Soho area of Central are fighting to save their community from the same fate.

"The government doesn't have the guts to say `no' to developers," charged John Batten, the owner of a Peel Street art gallery. "Lay people do not get any protection or help when it comes to preserving their community."

The Town Planning Board is supposed to regulate development "but it is toothless," he said, adding that its composition puts the real clout in the hands of government officials rather than the ex officio lay members of the community.

To support his case, he points to the fact that Rita Lau, permanent secretary of the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau, which puts up sites for land auctions, is also chairwoman of the board.

Batten and fellow residents Roger Ho, Katty Law and Rebecca Ng, have taken it upon themselves to propose an alternative to glassy skyscrapers and concrete parks in an area cherished for its old buildings, small shops and narrow streets.

"We are not against development," said Batten, "but we think that there should be appropriate and sensible development in keeping with the character of the community. This should be a low- rise area," he said, pointing with exasperation at a picture of CentreStage, a new high-rise Henderson Land development rising above Hollywood Road.

The dilemma residents face in preserving neighborhoods is emblematic of the growing clash between the Hong Kong government's tear-it-down-and- build-something-new attitude toward redevelopment and increasing awareness on the part of some residents of the historical importance and ambience of areas like Soho.

Currently at issue is the former police quarters on the corner of Aberdeen Street and Hollywood Road that is on the application list to be auctioned off to a developer.

Between 1890 and 1950, the site was the original home of Queen's College before it moved to its present location in Causeway Bay. From 1950 to 1997, it was used by the police to house married staff.

In 1997, the government applied for the site to be rezoned into a residential site so that it could be auctioned off. At the time, the government did not notify residents or hold any public discussion; it merely complied with the statutory requirement to place a public notice in a newspaper, residents said.

"Who reads the gazettes?" Ho asked.

A developer may now be able to trigger an auction of the site by submitting a bid to the Lands Department. The Town Planning Board said the market value of the site had not been assessed but would be once a bid was received.

The four residents hope to stop the process and have already submitted to the board a formal application to re- zone the site back into government property.

What these four people began as a nuisance has evolved into community- wide opposition to what is perceived as the government's disregard for the views of local residents.

Nearly 175 letters of support have been sent to the board and 500 people have put their names to a signature campaign.

Most residents in the area are elderly, Law said, and are not used to speaking up for themselves. But when Law and the others began publicizing the issue and the reasons behind the signature campaign, "they immediately knew what we were talking about," she said.

"We just want to tell the government the reality [of people's views]," Ho said.

With local support, media attention and interest from the likes of Alan Leong, chairman of the Legislative Council's West Kowloon cultural district development subcommittee, they expect not to be easily dismissed by the board.

"They will have to have a pretty good excuse to dismiss us," Ho said.

With development comes not only pollution problems, but also the hassle of fitting utilities, pipes and cable TV.

In Soho, the intricate and restrictive road network enhances all those problems, frustrating the residents.

"These roads cannot get any wider," said Batten.

The alternative proposal the four are pushing would preserve 14 trees and two stone walls while developing the site into a historic and cultural compound, including museums, galleries, studios and a public library or a swimming pool for the area.

There would be 1,000 meters of public garden with seating, and any new buildings would be low-rise and sensitive to the area.

Ideally, they would like to see a comprehensive cultural and heritage zone for the whole area but that battle will come later.

"Immediate action is required to save this piece of land from turning it into yet another monstrous, faceless building which threatens to destroy the very character of this area," the four residents said in their letter to the board.

The board said it will consider their application at a meeting with residents Friday and respond accordingly.

The four residents met recently in Batten's gallery to plan their presentation.

"You don't need expensive consultants to say that with development, you get pollution, clogged roads and loss of sunlight - it's obvious, just look out the window. And it's important to appear to be who we are: residents who are concerned about their homes," Batten said.

Law will tell the board that it comes down to preserving quality of life. She has lived in the area for almost 40 years, since she was a year old.

"I used to love just walking around the old streets. If you just open your eyes and pay more attention, you can see the heritage, the `old Hong Kong'," she said.

Now, she has two children: "I just want them to live in a nice environment."

They all agreed that the popularity of Soho and the replacement of traditional printing and porcelain shops with restaurants and bars has enriched many of the old landowners in the area.

Visitors are drawn to Soho's "mix of old and new," said Ng.

Too much new development will change Soho's character and "destroy the area's tourist potential," Law said.

Batten said that come Friday, there is likely to be a compromise, although he has not thought about what to do next.

"We've already come a long way," he said.

Ho said: "We just want them to know that residents have a view about their homes."
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Old November 24th, 2005, 03:07 AM   #78
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Old residential buildings ripe for the picking
23 November 2005
South China Morning Post

Developers are in the hunt for old residential buildings in Hong Kong's luxury neighbourhoods as the government considers relaxing rules governing the compulsory sale of properties.

Property consultants said Mid-Levels, Happy Valley and Kowloon Tong were the targets and developers were offering double the market price for old flats to secure building ownership.

"Luxury residential land sites are relatively scarce on the land application list. Acquiring old buildings to redevelop would be an alternative way to beef up developers' land bank mix," Midland Realty sales director Patrick Fung Kim-chiu said.

"The relaxation of the rules governing compulsory sale of properties slated for redevelopment should spur market demand for these old buildings."

The statutory threshold for compulsory sale is now 90 per cent of units in a property. The government will consult the industry by the end of next month on whether it should lower the threshold to 80 per cent or below.

Cheung Kong (Holdings) is one of the most enthusiastic developers to snap up flats in old buildings in recent years. The blue chip developer has been buying units in Moon Beam Terrace and Luso Apartments on Alnwick Road in Kowloon Tong after it last year secured 46 of 50 units, or 92 per cent of the property rights, of nearby Fortune Villa.

New World Development is another active player. The developer is looking for a compulsory sale for Villa Splendor in Tai Hang after securing more than 90 per cent ownership.

Property consultants said the lucrative redevelopment potential of old residential buildings had caused owners to jump on the bandwagon.

Agents said at least seven old residential buildings in traditional luxury districts were being put up for tender by owners. These include 105 Robinson Road in Mid-Levels, 15-15A Belfran Road in Kowloon Tong, 5 Star Street in Wan Chai and 36 Marble Road in North Point.

Herrick Lee Kwan-yee, a director of the investment division at Colliers International, said: "Price is the key. When the market is in an upturn, an individual owner can command a higher price than through a collective sale."

But not all property owners are swayed by the high prices offered for their flats because they are emotionally attached to them. This is especially true of older residents who might have lived in a neighbourhood for decades.

Savills director of investment Tim Wong Ming-tim said: "There are always pros and cons for redevelopment. For society as a whole, it would be beneficial to demolish old and decaying buildings. But people are also compassionate and they feel guilty turfing out elderly people and asking them to find a new place."

Sincerity and patience could sometimes win the day for elderly owners, but other owners had paid the price of being greedy, experts said.

The saga of the 16-storey residential building Hoi Ming Court in Tai Kok Tsui is one recent example.

Five of the 30 owners had held out, hoping to get an astronomical price for their flats from Nan Fung Development. The deal finally fell through after the developer decided to abandon the acquisition, leaving these owners in limbo and facing years of noise and dust as three 39-storey towers will be built in the neighbourhood.

Lowering the threshold for compulsory sale may smooth the redevelopment process, but Isaac Ng Ka-chui, an Urban Renewal Authority committee member, said the change would not speed up urban renewal in districts which were in need - such as Shamshuipo - because developers were only interested in prime areas.
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Old November 24th, 2005, 03:09 AM   #79
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hola que hermosooo
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Old November 25th, 2005, 02:26 PM   #80
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I believe its crucial that specific districts be protected in hkg ... protecting one or two buildings is a start but it does not solve the problem at hand ... 21st century is about sensible development ...
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