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Old February 19th, 2011, 05:34 PM   #301
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Family rift threatens future of egg store
18 February 2011
South China Morning Post

A family dispute may see the closure of a preserved egg store in Sheung Wan known for drawing long queues.

Shun Hing Hoo has for years supplied and sold preserved and salted eggs from its shop in Wing Lok Street. Its previous owner, Kwok Wing-fai, died recently. According to a court filing, he left the business to a son, Kwok Tak-shing.

"The shop was so famous that even television interviewed them, and customers had to queue outside the shop to buy their duck eggs," a nearby shopkeeper said yesterday.

Gold World Investments, owner of the site since 1991, filed a High Court writ this week seeking an order for Shun Hing Hoo to leave. Gold World said it had not been paid licence fees since February 2005.

A Gold World director, Kwok Tak-ming, who said he was a son of Kwok Wing-fai, noted that shops near the store attracted rents of HK$40,000 to HK$50,000 a month.

The filing names Kwok Tak-shing, Kwok Shuk-ching, Shirley Kwok Suk-ling and the estate of Kwok Wing-fai as defendants. Kwok Tak-ming says these three are his siblings.

Kwok Tak-ming said Gold World filed the court claim after a decision by him and his mother, 72. According to an annual return last year, they were Gold World directors along with Kwok Tak-shing and Kwok Wing-fai.

They could not be reached at the shop yesterday.

The shopkeeper from a nearby store said Shun Hing Hoo was closed four to five days before the Lunar New Year and had not opened since.

Another shopkeeper said the store used to be in Wing Sing Street but had to make way for high-rises.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 04:35 PM   #302
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New life for blasts from the past
27 February 2011
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

History buffs often bemoan Hong Kong's lack of foresight for preserving its architectural heritage. In the early 1970s, the gracious red-brick colonial rail station that was the terminus for a network of trains running from the tip of Tsim Sha Tsui all the way through China, Russia, Europe and beyond was reduced to a mere clock tower. More recently, the beloved Star Ferry pier has been replaced with a bypass on reclaimed land. But all is not completely lost. These days, the city is more sensitive to conserving its architectural gems, breathing new life into colonial relics.

One controversial conversion is the former Marine Police Headquarters Compound into 1881 Heritage. The large complex spans Salisbury Road to One Peking Road, and Canton Road to Kowloon Park Drive, and was occupied from 1881 until 1996. In 2003, developer Cheung Kong Holdings won the tender to revitalize the site according to international conservation standards. Six years later, the first tenants moved in.

The original structures consist of the main building, stable blocks, time-ball tower, fire station and fire station accommodation block. As the area is prime tourist territory, the lower parts of the site house a number of luxury boutiques, including Shanghai Tang, Tiffany & Co and Cartier. The upper section is crowned by Hullett House, a boutique hotel operated by Aqua Group that boasts a bevy of restaurants and bars. Although critics scoff at 1881 Heritage as a Disney-fication of a historical site, it has been a hit with tourists. And it is preferable to demolition.

Another approach: Move the building. Originally built in 1846, Murray House's Central site became much too valuable for its purpose as officers' quarters. In 1982, the building was dismantled piece by piece to make way for I.M. Pei's Bank of China building. Each of the more than 3,000 pieces was faithfully catalogued and, in 2002, the building was resurrected in Stanley. Today, the bottom floor houses the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, while its upper floors are al fresco restaurants with broad sea views.

In 2007, Murray House was joined by Blake Pier, also formerly in Central and relocated to Stanley after a 40-year stint as the roof of Morse Park pavilion. A fitting companion to Murray House, Blake Pier offers ferry services to nearby islands.

Built between 1873 and 1875 by French Mission architect Father Pierre-Marie Osouf, Bethanie in the green Pokfulam was originally conceived as a place for priests to recuperate from tropical diseases. Along with two octagonal Dairy Farm cowsheds built in 1886, the government granted Bethanie to the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts in 2003. The entire complex underwent extensive restoration, led by architect Philip Liao. It reopened in 2006 with facilities for its film school and a restored chapel - now it's a hotspot for weddings and events.

Liao is now working on the revitalization of the former Tai O Police Station into a heritage boutique hotel, with an opening planned late this year.
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Old March 24th, 2011, 12:23 PM   #303
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King Yin Lei to open for public visits
Government Press Release
Wednesday, March 23, 2011







Following more than two years of intense on-site and off-site work supervised by Professor Tang Guohua, conservation expert from Guangzhou University's College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the restoration of King Yin Lei, a declared monument, has been completed and members of the public can, for the first time, enter the mansion to appreciate its architectural beauty.

The Commissioner for Heritage's Office of the Development Bureau will organise 10 open days at King Yin Lei falling on weekends from April 2 to 17 and the Easter holidays (April 22 to 25) for the public to visit the building.

A spokesman for the Development Bureau today (March 23) said that following the completion of restoration works, the next challenge is to find a suitable use for King Yin Lei that will meet the objectives of sustainable heritage conservation and public accessibility.

"We will include King Yin Lei in the third batch of historic buildings under the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) to identify the most suitable use for the building under the management of a non-profit-making organisation. Details of the third batch of the revitalisation scheme will be announced in June.

"We hope that the open days will help stimulate public views and suggestions on the adaptive re-use of the monument. An opinion card will be distributed during the open days for visitors to let us know their views," the spokesman said.

Admission tickets for visiting King Yin Lei can be collected through the following three channels:

(a) Through online registration at the heritage conservation website of the Development Bureau (www.heritage.gov.hk) from 8am tomorrow (March 24);

(b) Complete the registration form available at the heritage conservation website from 8am tomorrow (March 24). Registration forms should be returned to the Commissioner for Heritage's Office via fax at 3167 2699; or

(c) Admission tickets will also be distributed at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre (HDC) at Kowloon Park, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, from March 26 (Saturday) during opening hours. HDC is open from Mondays to Saturdays (except Thursdays) from 10am to 6pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 7pm. Please visit the Antiquities and Monuments Office's website (www.amo.gov.hk) to learn more about the HDC.

Each open day will have a morning session from 10am to 12.30pm and an afternoon session from 2pm to 4.30pm. Each person can obtain a maximum of four tickets in any one session on a first-come, first-served basis. A total of 20,000 tickets will be distributed to the public.

There are no parking facilities at King Yin Lei. Members of the public are encouraged to use public transport to access the venue.

For enquiries about the open days, please call the Commissioner for Heritage's Office of the Development Bureau at 2848 6213 or 2848 6214.

Originally named "Hei Lo", King Yin Lei was built in 1937 by Mrs Shum Li Po-lun and Mr Shum Yat-chor, a merchant and philanthropist from Guangdong Province. The building combines Chinese and Western architectural influences in a sophisticated manner, demonstrating the superb building technology and craftsmanship available in Hong Kong's pre-war period.

In September 2007, works to remove the roof tiles, stone features and window frames were noticed at King Yin Lei, arousing a public outcry and calls for its preservation. The Government took decisive action by declaring the building a proposed monument and reached an agreement with the owner swiftly for a non-in-situ land exchange, marking a precedent in Hong Kong's protection of privately owned historic buildings under the new heritage conservation policy adopted in 2007. As part of the agreement, the owner consented to fund King Yin Lei's restoration costs.

King Yin Lei was declared a monument in July 2008 and put under permanent statutory protection. Through the assistance of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Professor Tang Guohua was commissioned to draw up a restoration proposal. Restoration work commenced in September 2008 and was substantially completed by December 2010.
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 08:28 PM   #304
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Mansion restoration outstrips expectations
2 April 2011
South China Morning Post

The restoration of King Yin Lei mansion - which opens to the public for the first time today - has exceeded expectations, according to the man in charge of the work.

Guangzhou University Professor Tang Guo-hua said more than 80 per cent of the mansion had been returned to its former glory.

When work began in 2008, with the building minus almost all its roof, floor, ceilings, beams and walkways, Tang promised that 80 per cent of the old building would be restored.

"It [restoration level] is even more than 80 per cent," he said. "These three years of endeavour enabled local craftsmen to re-master the traditional architectural techniques, many of which were almost dying out in Hong Kong. Fortune has come out of misfortune."

Tang's team had to travel to Foshan and Fujian to source materials and craftsmen for the job.

The restoration team had to rely on marks left on site, old photographs and remnants to remake the items. Traditional materials and techniques were used to preserve as much of the mansion's architectural value as possible, Tang said.

"The large-scale renovation work at the King Yin Lei mansion is a landmark case in local heritage conservation," said Laura Aron, Commissioner for Heritage.

All 20,000 tickets have been distributed for tomorrow's public viewing of the Chinese Renaissance-style building in Stubbs Road.

"We are encouraged by public enthusiasm for appreciating the historic site and will consider further arrangements for more open days," Aron said.

Today's visitors will start their tour in the garden and then walk through the three-storey mansion. Details of the materials and techniques used in the restoration process will be illustrated by a short documentary and on exhibition boards.

Each visitor will be given a feedback form to express their opinions on the building's future use.

King Yin Lei was built in 1937 by a merchant, Shum Yat-chor.

Its third owner tried to demolish the mansion for redevelopment in 2007, but halted the work amid public outrage.

Government officials then declared the site a monument and the owner agreed to surrender it in exchange for land nearby.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:41 AM   #305
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Looking at the big picture of our history
The Standard
Monday, April 04, 2011

Heritage preservation is currently the talk of the town, with the revitalization of numerous characteristic Hong Kong venues such as the old government supplies depot, the Central Police Station and the former police married quarters all vying for attention.

And quite rightly so, given the fact that protecting architecture is much like protecting a treasured layer of fossil within an age-old sedimentary rock.

Like art, buildings and traditions from different periods need to be preserved and conserved. This goes beyond simply being a notion of the historical. In fact, it becomes a social and political element.

Social in terms of how such an act of reconceptualization may activate the surrounding urban realm; political in terms of who determines what exactly should be protected and how - in other words, what is worth the laborious injection of time, thought and money.

It may perhaps be useful to look into a photographic record of the entire city, group all the layers of fossils and analyze from a macro scale what would yield the most significance.

That is, provide a voice for our rich historical legacy while allowing room for future development and turning a new leaf on the city's ever-evolving story.

This is no doubt a very difficult process, one that the Development Bureau and Architectural Services Department fully understand and have a strong grasp on, as the number of challenging projects lined up prove.

What does seem to be emanating from the public is the sense that such projects demand creative solutions, solutions that are sustainable, have a long-standing impact on the community, engage meaningfully with the public, and are in harmony with the surrounding environment.

Hong Kong Art Vanguard Association members - architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon - don't always see eye to eye.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 12:44 PM   #306
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Restored mansion draws a crowd
3 April 2011
South China Morning Post







King Yin Lei on Stubbs Road has never been so crowded. Upwards of 1,600 people visited the 74-year-old mansion yesterday for its first open day since its restoration.

A queue formed hours before the doors opened at 10am and when they finally did, visitors poured into the Chinese Renaissance building's gardens to begin a tour through time. Staff talked them through the architecture and history of the 1930s mansion, a rare example of an architectural style that blends local design tradition with modern construction techniques. All 20,000 tickets for the 10-day public viewing were snapped up in advance.

Siu Yam-cheung and Wong Sau-kuen arrived at 9.35am to prepare for their tour guide examination in May. "It's a nice new tourist spot for both locals and foreigners," Siu, 52, said. "We need to conserve more historical structures like this, because they represent the unique history of Hong Kong."

Siu enjoyed the main building most, because it showed the luxurious lifestyle of its original owners, while Wong liked the traditional furniture and appliances.

"It will be great to show the younger generation what people used in their houses in the past," Wong said.

A 50-year-old visitor was impressed by the view from the balcony overlooking Happy Valley, Wan Chai and Victoria Harbour. "It was nice walking around and taking photos casually here. There's not much chance to do so," she said.

She is concerned what will become of the mansion. "I hope it won't be as high-ended as The Pawn in Wan Chai," she said, and saw it as a good spot for a coffee shop.

Another visitor, Chan Yuk-chun, 60, said she wanted to see the mansion's architecture. "It's eye-opening to see the magnificence of it. It's great to see it restored, and it would have been a pity if it was demolished."

She especially liked how the ceilings and rugs matched each other.

"It was very well thought-out when they built it, and greatly represented the tastes of the rich," she said. Chan hoped the mansion could be used for educational purposes and open for visitors again.

The mansion, built by merchant Shum Yat-chor, was on the brink of being torn down by its third owner in 2007. The work was stopped amid public outrage, and the mansion declared a monument. The owner agreed to surrender the mansion in exchange for land nearby. Restoration began in 2008.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 01:25 PM   #307
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Detective work restores heritage
The Standard
Wednesday, April 06, 2011

King Yin Lei, the 1930s Chinese renaissance mansion on Stubbs Road that was partially demolished before a government rescue in 2007, has been restored. The result is stunning.

We must thank Guangzhou University professor Tang Guohua. He selected samples of glazed roof tiles, mosaic floor, window frames, brick and other parts from the rubble, worked out how everything fitted together and had replicas made in the mainland.

For example, surviving the demolition was one door (from the toilet, presumably, because the wrecking crew were using it), enabling new ones to be copied. As well as enjoying their privacy, the workers were also superstitious and avoided destroying the niche that sheltered the house god's statue, which also helped Tang to recreate one of the main rooms.

Perhaps the finishing touch comes from original furnishings on loan from a previous owner, the Yao family. The presence of the furniture gives the visitor the impression that it is still a living family home.

King Yin Lei is open to the public on holidays and weekends for this month - but all tickets have been distributed. I am hoping that the government will find a way to extend the open period so more people can visit. Officials are already looking for ideas on how to put the grand building to adaptive use.

It is a flagship heritage project for Hong Kong, and a great success.

Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 10:06 AM   #308
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Heritage rules in dire need of an upgrade
4 April 2011
SCMP

The move to allow redevelopment of the historic Chinese-style buildings at 6 and 8 Kennedy Road, Mid-Levels, and not employ the devious declaration of temporary monument status should be welcomed. The last time the administration got it right was when Bruce Lee's former residence was denied monument status because the building had been altered decades ago. Then, the Antiquities and Monuments Office rightly had to disappoint fans, given the baseless heritage claims.

However, most of Hong Kong's heritage policy lacks co-ordination, and the government's approach usually mimics the bad guys in Lee's movies, who take what they want, when they want it.

Ho Tung Gardens was deemed a "proposed historic monument", but its historical "value" was debunked as urban legend. The most embarrassing case involved Jessville mansion, also declared a proposed monument, before being downgraded to a grade-three historical building less than a year later, after owners agreed to maintain the building as a clubhouse. When the monuments office flip-flops in such a way, legitimate doubts arise about heritage and whether efforts to stop redevelopment are justified. Do "heritage" buildings like King Yin Lei mansion or Ho Tung Gardens deserve the status?

King Yin Lei was graded on the same day its monument status was declared. The declaration of monument status to halt redevelopment skews an already incomplete grading process and undermines the office's credibility.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's description of the heritage policy as to take "no action if the enemy makes no move" diverts responsibility. Just look at the King Yin Lei mansion, which had 20 per cent of its facade ruined. Conservationists and the media pointed fingers at the owners, but they had the right to redevelop. It was the office's responsibility to protect heritage, yet it had not even graded the mansion, indicating it held no heritage value. Had the office established a set of clear guidelines, the building would not have lost its original features.

Such desperate, last-minute efforts are often cheered, but they could, in reality, mean that potential historic buildings are demolished because they aren't on a watch list.

Privately owned sites worthy of heritage status have been in the same state for decades. Thus, there is no reason why, after years of government assessment, those that have not been declared monuments should suddenly be protected. With 70 per cent of identified heritage buildings privately owned, there is a pressing need for an overhaul of the system.

If Hong Kong is increasingly deprived of historic landmarks, the blame should fall on the monuments office, not property owners. It has repeatedly admitted to problems with its policy but no changes have been made. If the public wants to keep its heritage buildings, it must demand that the policy is renovated.

Nicole Alpert is a research associate with The Lion Rock Institute, Hong Kong's leading, free market think tank.

www.lionrockinstitute.org
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Old April 28th, 2011, 07:38 AM   #309
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SDEV exchanges views with youth on heritage conservation
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Government Press Release

The following is issued on behalf of the Commission on Youth:

The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, exchanged views on heritage conservation with young people at the Youth Exchange Session organised by the Commission on Youth (COY) at Youth Square today (April 27).

Mrs Lam spoke about various heritage conservation and revitalisation of historic building initiatives in Hong Kong during the exchange session, which was attended by more than a hundred participants.

The Chief Executive announced in the 2007-08 Policy Address that as part of its plans to address public aspirations for a quality living environment, the Government would press ahead with a number of heritage conservation initiatives in the next five years, Mrs Lam said.

The Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme was launched in 2008. The Scheme, which invites non-profit-making organisations to submit proposals to revitalise historic government buildings, has already helped formulate and conduct revitalisation plans for nine historic buildings. Through economic incentives such as land exchange and the transfer of development rights, the Government has also encouraged private owners to preserve historic buildings. The best example of such incentives is King Yin Lei mansion, which is now holding open days for the public.

Other initiatives include conducting Heritage Impact Assessments for government capital works projects, the Financial Assistance for Maintenance Scheme for privately owned and graded historic buildings, and various education and promotion activities to raise public awareness of heritage conservation.

Mrs Lam said, "Last year, we produced a set of teaching kits to introduce Hong Kong's heritage conservation policies and practices to secondary school students. We wish to encourage young people to think about the significance of heritage conservation from various perspectives, to be aware of and to get in touch with historic buildings, and participate in our heritage conservation works in the future."

The COY's Convenor of the Working Group on International Exchanges and Conferences, Mr Lai Pui-wing, said that the COY would continue to organise exchange sessions and invite government representatives to attend so that young people would have more opportunities to exchange views with them on topics of concern.

Information about heritage conservation in Hong Kong is available at the following website: www.heritage.gov.hk.
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Old May 11th, 2011, 05:39 AM   #310
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Central Market fault is habit of playing safe
The Standard
Monday, May 09, 2011

An oasis has been chosen as the design theme for the revitalization scheme of Central Market.

Such a concept will bring a sharp contrast to the surrounding skyline, populated by high-rise, high-density buildings that create a canyon effect of trapping pollutants and heat in the streets below.

As such, a low-level, almost park-like facility, in the middle of Central will be a welcome change.

The government has made a sound decision in opting to save this complex and preserve its unique architectural design out of respect for its rich heritage.

Pivotal to the design brief is that the original structure be retained as much as possible, while making it viable for public use and utilizing its potential to the maximum.

There is, however, a fine line between concept and execution.

While the former allows for creativity, any such inspired thought is restricted in the latter.

But in refusing to restrict itself to going with one winner and in keeping itself open to mixing and matching elements from the four design proposals, the government has made the notion of any competition seem almost redundant.

It is perhaps this lapse in strategy that has caused the four short-listed entries to look fairly similar.

All have kept the original facade intact, complementing the 1930s Bauhaus architecture with a playful patination of colored windows.

Most of the design teams have kept the original sky well and planned an additional pavilion on the rooftop.

It is unfortunate that these architects have chosen to interpret the brief in a conventional way, and part of the fault may be due to the restrictive nature of the brief.

But, having said that, there is always room for creativity and one can only assume the proposals reflect the tendency of Hong Kong designers to play it safe.

Abroad, heritage preservation projects can be seen everywhere - Tate Modern, Saatchi Gallery and Neues Museum, where outstanding design has made a significant contribution to regenerating the identity of cities.

Here, however, not enough consideration has been paid to why a building was built, the context of its current existence and the new era in which the design should resonate.

We need vision to achieve. What our city needs is the guts to experiment and to visualize things that capture the core meaning of existence.

Only then will we do justice to the rich and varied history of Asia's most exciting city.

What we need is courage, change and creativity.

Hong Kong Art Vanguard Association members - architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon - don't always see eye to eye.
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Old May 12th, 2011, 12:12 PM   #311
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Chief Executive visits Central Market
Government Press Release
Thursday, May 5, 2011







The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, today (May 5) visited Central Market to be updated on its revitalisation and the on-going public consultation of the four design concepts.

Accompanied by the Chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), Mr Barry Cheung, the Chief Executive visited the "Central Oasis" design concept roving exhibition at the Oasis Gallery on the second floor. He was briefed on the four design concepts, which are themed "Urban Cocoon", "Central Gateway", "UFO (Urban Floating Oasis) and the New Marketplace" and "A Living Heritage". The four concepts are based on mainstream public views as well as on studies of the structural conditions of the building and its main architectural features. The conceptual designs serve to facilitate public understanding of the different feasible design concepts and to encourage feedback.

Launched last month, the territory-wide roving exhibition moved back to Central Market on May 3 and will remain there until this Friday. The URA will take into account public preferences as well as other practical considerations in formulating the final design guidelines for tendering the architectural design work for the project.

Mr Tsang went inside the market building and was briefed on its structural conditions and special architectural features.

"I have been living in Central for many years and have many fond memories of Central Market. As a child, I always went with my mother to shop here. Later on, I came here with my wife and made friends with many stall owners. The market was a very convenient, friendly and vibrant place," Mr Tsang said.

In his 2009-10 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that Central Market would be conserved and revitalised. The revitalisation plan will help improve the air ventilation in the neighbourhood and provide leisure space rarely found in this busy area for white collar workers, residents and tourists.

"The Central District is home to our financial sector. Here, the demand for prime office space is keen. Yet we still need to strike a fine balance between development and the revitalisation and conservation of buildings with historic significance and architectural interest," Mr Tsang said.

"I believe that with a broad-based public participation in the design process, Central Market will become a popular hangout spot in the future."

He urged the public to give their views on the design concepts to take the project forward.

The Central Oasis Community Advisory Committee will soon discuss the views of the public on the four conceptual designs and the mode of operation of the future Central Oasis. In the months ahead, the URA plans to proceed with the tender exercise for the architectural design. It hopes to invite Expressions of Interest by the end of this year. The first phase of the revitalised market building should be completed in 2015 with full commissioning in 2018.

Central Market underwent a number of partial demolition and alteration works throughout its nearly 80-year history. The current form of the building is the result of the fourth generation modification works. The building has not been used since 2003.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 01:19 AM   #312
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We must to preserved our historical architecture
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Old August 7th, 2011, 08:42 PM   #313
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Mallory Street, Wanchai
7/23





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Old August 28th, 2011, 07:12 PM   #314
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Cheap rent belies heritage move
The Standard
Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Asia Society Hong Kong Center has reached a new milestone in moving from its headquarters at Baskerville House on Duddell Street to a historic complex - the site of the former explosives magazine on Justice Drive in Admiralty.

The complex comprises four buildings constructed by the British military between the 1850s and the 1910s for the production and storage of explosives and munitions.

It was later used as a government storage facility and workshop before being abandoned in the 1990s, then declared a historic building, and leased to the society for 21 years at a nominal rent.

The conceptual design for the rehabilitation of the building was developed by award-winning architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates following a worldwide competition.

Ivan Ho Chi-ching, an expert in conservation, is project consultant.

The site is being turned into a showcase of cultural education that blends conservation with modern design to preserve the historic value and layout of the original structures.

Open to community use, it is set to become an attraction for local and overseas visitors. Related construction and refurbishing work are continuing, with completion scheduled for after the Lunar New Year.

New additions include a reception hall and connecting pedestrian walkways, with lecture theaters, exhibition and performing venues, as well as catering facilities.

The society's staff team, comprising more than 10 members, is moving into the new center even as th
e renovations are ongoing.

The rehabilitation project cost HK$200 million, with the Hong Kong Jockey Club contributing HK$125 million.

Clearly, despite the low rent, it is not at all cheap to take over this kind of historic site. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily
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Old August 31st, 2011, 03:29 AM   #315
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Old October 11th, 2011, 10:22 AM   #316
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Ho Tung villa awaits monumental verdict
The Standard
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ho Tung Gardens - The Peak villa of late businessman and philanthropist Robert Hotung - has moved a step closer to being declared a monument, after two government consultancy reports said it has high historical and architectural value.

The reports, from experts at the University of Hong Kong, have been submitted to the Antiquity Advisory Board.

The villa, built in 1927, comprises a Chinese Renaissance-style mansion and extensive gardens.

The reports say Ho Tung Gardens represents one of the oldest surviving examples of Chinese Renaissance architecture in the territory and is even older than many similar mainland buildings.

The many important visitors who stayed at the 84-year-old mansion include former US president George HW Bush, when he was chief of the US liaison office in the mainland.

It was also used as a military operations base to fight the Japanese in 1941.

During the early colonial days, The Peak was reserved for Europeans. Hotung, who was Eurasian, broke that tradition. The property is now owned by the late tycoon's granddaughter, Ho Min-kwan, who wants to demolish the mansion to build residential blocks.

The government declared the site a proposed monument in January last year to halt any redevelopment moves and buy time for negotiations with Ho.

The granddaughter earlier agreed to keep the mansion and build 10 three- or four-story residential blocks in the garden, covering a residential floor area of 6,000 square meters.

Antiquities Advisory Board chairman Bernard Charnwut Chan yesterday said the Development Bureau is doing its best to negotiate with Ho, but he does not know what progress has been made.

In the worst-case scenario, Chan said, the government may have to pay Ho to preserve the site, as it cannot turn it into a statutory monument without the consent of the owner.
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Old October 29th, 2011, 07:18 AM   #317
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Monumental court fight looms on Ho Tung Gardens
The Standard
Tuesday, October 25, 2011





The government is bracing for legal action by the owner of Ho Tung Gardens on the Peak in wake of approval by the Antiquities Advisory Board for a plan to declare the 84-year-old villa a monument.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that among the options facing the owner are seeking a judicial review of the decision to declare the gardens a monument, accepting the government's offer of a site exchange and, in the event that the exchange is deemed unsatisfactory, seeking compensation in the courts.

But she warned that nobody would know how the courts would rule on the compensation quantum.

The owner, Ho Min-kwan, is the granddaughter of late businessman and philanthropist Robert Ho Tung, the first Eurasian to live on the Peak when he built the villa at 75 Peak Road. She wants to demolish it to build 10 residential blocks.

Lam said both sides met six times, with the owner present on five of the occasions.

She said the government's land swap proposal would give the owner almost exactly the same development potential - a plot ratio of 0.5 and about 10 villas of no more than four floors per building.

But the first signs are not encouraging.

"The owner, based on some architectural appraisal given to her by advisers, said that our exchange option is not desirable because of various restrictions and limits, and also because of the procedures to do in terms of rezoning," Lam said.

She said King Yin Lei was exactly in the same situation when the government rezoned a green- belt site to do a land swap with the owner.

Ho Tung Gardens is the only remaining residence directly related to Robert Ho Tung, the first non-European allowed to reside on the Peak.

Ho Tung Gardens, probably the earliest surviving example of Chinese Renaissance architecture, was built in 1927 on a 124,000-square-feet site.
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Old November 8th, 2011, 07:36 AM   #318
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SDEV speaks on Ho Tung Gardens
Monday, October 24, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, at a media session today (October 24) on the declaration of Ho Tung Gardens as monument:

Reporter: Can you elaborate a bit about the land exchange proposal? Can you explain why your views differ from the owner? Why do you think it is a feasible plan? Why do you think it is workable?

Secretary for Development: Since I proposed the proposed monument status for Ho Tung Gardens, I have been in a continuous discussion with the owner of Ho Tung Gardens with a view to reaching what I hope to see as a win-win solution. On the one hand, we can preserve this extremely valuable and significant heritage for Hong Kong, and on the other hand respect the owner's private property rights. So, in around May this year, we presented to her what I called a land exchange proposal. Basically, it is by amalgamating two adjacent "Green Belt" sites with part of the Ho Tung Gardens' site which is of less heritage value - the tennis court and the carport - so as to form a big enough site to exchange with her existing site that would give her almost exactly the same development potential - a plot ratio of 0.5 and about 10 villas of no more than four storeys per building. But unfortunately the owner, based on some architectural appraisal given to her by her advisers, said that our land exchange option was not desirable because of various restrictions and limits and also because of the procedures to do in terms of rezoning. As you know, we cannot build on a Green Belt site, we have to rezone the site into Residential before we could offer it as a land exchange. But as a result we have then given her our views again, suggesting that having consulted various concerned departments, we felt that her concerns and limitations by and large could be overcome. And more importantly, we quoted the example of King Yin Lei, which was in exactly the same situation, where we have to rezone a Green Belt site in order to do a land swap with the owner. So I hope that we could continue to explore with the owner on this basis.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 04:51 PM   #319
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LCQ5: Heritage conservation policy
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):

Question:

Since April 2003, four historic buildings have been declared as proposed monuments, and two of them have already been declared as statutory monuments. The latest building declared as a proposed monument is the Ho Tung Gardens on The Peak. The Government recently intends to declare the Ho Tung Gardens as a statutory monument and is negotiating with the owner of the Ho Tung Gardens on the compensation package. As the issue has given rise to public debate over the conservation policy on monuments and historic buildings, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that different compensation proposals were made by the authorities in handling the compensation for the three proposed monuments, namely the Morrison Building, King Yin Lei and Ho Tung Gardens, of the criteria based on which the authorities formulated the compensation proposals, and how the authorities have formulated the compensation proposal for the owner of the Ho Tung Gardens according to these criteria;

(b) given that at present the authorities handle the compensation arrangement for the declaration of private properties as proposed monuments on a case-by-case basis, whether they will consider developing a specific mechanism and consistent standards for making compensation to owners of statutory monuments, as well as formulating principles and procedures for adopting which form of compensation (e.g. land swap and transfer of plot ratio, etc.), so as to avoid society forming the impression that the current compensation arrangements lack consistent standards and transparency; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) as the existing legislation provides statutory protection for proposed and statutory monuments only, without giving the same protection to the graded historic buildings confirmed by the Antiquities Advisory Board, whether the authorities will consider conducting a comprehensive review of the conservation system for proposed and statutory monuments as well as graded historic buildings, and introduce legislation to preserve graded historic buildings; if they will, of the details of such review; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

Under the new heritage conservation policy announced by the Chief Executive in October 2007, the Administration recognises that on the premise of respecting private property rights, we need to offer appropriate economic incentives to encourage or in exchange for private owners to conserve historic buildings in their ownership. From October 2007 till now, we have, including the preservation-cum-development proposal of the China Light & Power which was approved by the Metro Planning Committee of the Town Planning Board last week, successfully secured owners' agreement to conserve historic buildings under five projects through the provision of economic incentives. They comprise a monument (King Yin Lei), a Grade one building (the clock tower of the China Light & Power Administration Building), two Grade three buildings (Jessville at 128 Pokfulam Road and the front portion of the shophouse at 179 Prince Edward Road West) and a group of four Grade one or Grade two buildings of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.

My reply to the three parts of the question is set out below -

(a) As evident from the successful cases in the past few years, the policy of providing economic incentives for conserving privately owned historic buildings is not confined to proposed monuments. Generally speaking, a historic building may be declared as a proposed monument in view of a demolition threat. The Antiquities Authority, having consulted the Antiquities Advisory Board, may consider it necessary to declare the building as a proposed monument to provide a buffer period of 12 months for ascertaining the heritage value of the building and exploring the possibility of conservation with the owner. In fact, we welcome it even more if owners of historic buildings proactively contact us, at any time, to explore proposals which can balance conservation and development at any time. While the provision of economic incentives serves a compensatory function to a certain extent, it is not the established compensation arrangement for resumption of private land or property by the Administration. In formulating the appropriate economic incentives, factors to be taken into account generally include the heritage value of the historic building concerned, the development potential and value of the site where the building is located, the space provided by the site from the planning perspective, the wish of the owner, the land and financial implications on the Administration, as well as the anticipated public reaction. It is indeed because of the need to consider a multitude of factors, and that the cases involved are few in number but very diverse in nature, it is considered appropriate to formulate feasible proposals according to the circumstances of individual cases.

Regarding the case of Ho Tung Gardens, having considered its significant heritage value and the value of the site at the Peak on which the Gardens is located, as well as the fact that the owner has obtained approval for her plans to demolish and redevelop the Gardens, we consider it necessary to offer a site which allows the owner to pursue development as an economic incentive. The owner has once expressed interest in the provision of economic incentives by the Administration or the land exchange proposal as in the case of King Yin Lei. We have therefore explored the technical feasibility, and offered the owner with a feasible land exchange proposal in May this year in order to preserve the most important parts of Ho Tung Gardens. According to the land exchange proposal, we will apply the original development parameters of Ho Tung Gardens (including the site area, plot ratio and building height) to the new site, after land exchange, as a reasonable economic incentive. So far, we have not yet reached an agreement with the owner.

(b) As mentioned above, the type and extent of economic incentives are determined on a case-by-case basis, and seek to strike a balance between respect for private property rights and heritage conservation. Since each historic building is unique and the demand and wish of each private owner are not the same, adopting a standardised proposal will not be conducive to the formulation of the most appropriate economic incentive in exchange for the conservation of the historic building concerned by the owner.

When applying the policy of providing economic incentives, we will present the proposal to the public and adhere to required statutory procedures. For example, in the case of King Yin Lei, we presented the land exchange proposal to the public at the very first instance and followed the established town planning procedures to rezone the newly granted site used for land exchange from Green Belt to residential use. This set of procedures include making public the rezoning application by the Town Planning Board when received and allowing the public to express their views within a certain period of time. Those who have made submissions may also make presentation in person at the Town Planning Board meetings. In the case of Ho Tung Gardens, I also presented to the public the economic incentive proposal offered to the owner when I announced the intention to declare Ho Tung Gardens as a monument. I consider the existing mechanism reasonable and appropriate.

(c) While the mechanism for providing compensation to the owner by the Antiquities Authority as stipulated under section 8 of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (the Ordinance) is only applicable to those historic buildings which have been declared as proposed monuments or monuments under the Ordinance, economic incentives may be made available to those graded historic buildings which are not under statutory protection. Moreover, through the new heritage conservation policy formulated in 2007 and the work in recent years, we have appropriate measures in place to protect and conserve all categories of historic buildings. These measures include conducting heritage impact assessment for all new capital works projects, completing the heritage assessment of the 1 444 buildings systematically, setting up an internal monitoring mechanism under which the Commissioner for Heritage's Office and the Antiquities and Monuments Office will be alerted to take action when possible threats to historic buildings are known, as well as regarding Grade one buildings as highly valuable historic buildings for consideration by the Antiquities Authority as to whether they may have reached the "high threshold" of monuments to be accorded with statutory protection when necessary.

The above-mentioned measures have already provided effective protection to historic buildings in Hong Kong, and struck a balance between respect for private property rights and heritage conservation. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this new heritage conservation policy and do not have plan currently to conduct another comprehensive review.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 10:09 AM   #320
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LCQ9: Ho Tung Gardens
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Abraham Shek and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 23):

Question:

It has been reported that following the Government's formal declaration of Ho Tung Gardens as a monument on October 24 this year, and due to the fact that an agreement of a proposed land exchange between the Government and its owner has not been reached so far, it is estimated that an amount of $3 billion of taxpayers' money (in terms of Ho Tung Gardens' redevelopment value) might prospectively be incurred to compensate its owner in respect of the financial loss suffered or likely to be suffered by her. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of private properties that were declared monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Cap. 53) (the Ordinance) in the past three years, together with the details of the compensation or land exchange arrangements made in each case; whether it has made reference to any overseas example in which similar compensation was made for monument preservation when it considered Ho Tung Gardens' case; if it had, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) given that Article 105 of the Basic Law stipulates that "the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall, in accordance with law, protect the right of individuals and legal persons to the acquisition, use, disposal and inheritance of property and their right to compensation for lawful deprivation of their property", whether it has assessed if the declaration of any private property as a monument without having obtained the owner's consent would be in contravention with the Basic Law; if it has assessed that this would not, of the reasons for that, and whether it has considered establishing an appeal mechanism under the Ordinance to form an independent jury to review the decision made by the Government; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it has assessed if there might be the possibility of judicial review applications to challenge decisions of the Government with regard to the declaration of private properties as monuments on the ground of the stipulation under Article 105 of the Basic Law; if so, whether it has put in place any measure to minimise such possibility, including but not limited to legislative amendment; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

First of all, I would like to point out that I, in my capacity as the Antiquities Authority, simply consulted the Antiquities Advisory Board on the suggestion of declaring Ho Tung Gardens as a monument according to section 3(1) of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (the Ordinance) on October 24, 2011. Such suggestion still needs to go through the existing statutory procedures before Ho Tung Gardens will be declared as a monument. Besides, we have never conducted an assessment on the financial loss that may be suffered by the owner of Ho Tung Gardens. The so-called "an amount of $3 billion of taxpayers' money might prospectively be incurred" is just an estimate floating in the community.

My reply to the three parts of the question is set out below:

(a) Since 2008, a total of seven private properties have been declared as monuments. They are Maryknoll Convent School, King Yin Lei, Residence of Ip Ting-sz, Yan Tun Kong Study Hall at Ping Shan of Yuen Long, Tung Wah Museum, Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road and Tang Kwong U Ancestral Hall at Kam Tin of Yuen Long. Apart from the land exchange in the case of King Yin Lei as economic incentive provided by the Government to the owner for preserving the historic building, no compensation or land exchange arrangements were involved in the other six cases.

The land exchange for King Ying Lei was conducted in accordance with the Government's heritage conservation policy established in September 2007 on the provision of economic incentives to encourage or in exchange for private owners to conserve historic buildings in their ownership. No public money was involved. We are discussing possible preservation options with the owner of Ho Tung Gardens in accordance with the same set of policy and with utmost sincerity. In formulating the heritage conservation policy mentioned above, we have made reference to overseas experience, and the conclusion was that heritage authorities seldom spend large public sums in exchange for the title of or right to use privately-owned historic buildings, and are seldom involved in cash compensation. Of course, we have also given due considerations to the circumstances of Hong Kong, and that the price which the public in general are willing to pay for heritage conservation. In applying the "economic incentives" policy, we have to take into account a multitude of factors, and that the nature of each case is different.

(b) The Ordinance will not take away the owner's title to the property which has been declared as a monument. The Ordinance also does not substantially interfere with the concerned owner's property rights or take away or restrict the concerned owner's right to alienate the property. Therefore, the current practice of declaring private properties as monuments does not constitute "deprivation" of the property of individuals and legal persons under Article 105 of the Basic Law, and thus does not involve a right to claim compensation under Article 105 of the Basic Law. Besides, the Ordinance has already struck a fair balance between the protection of individual's property rights and public interest. Based on the above reasons, the current mechanism of declaring privately-owned historic buildings as monuments does not contravene the Basic Law.

As mentioned above, at present, the Antiquities Authority has to consult the Antiquities Advisory Board on her intention to declare any place, building, site or structure as monuments, and the concerned owner or lawful occupier can raise objection to the intended monument declaration in accordance with the existing statutory procedures. According to section 4 of the Ordinance, if a place, building, site or structure intended by the Antiquities Authority to be declared a monument is situated on private land, the Antiquities Authority shall, prior to the making of the declaration, serve on the owner and any lawful occupier of the private land a notice in writing of her intention to declare a monument therein. Within one month, or such longer period as may be allowed by the Chief Executive in any particular case, after the service of the notice, the owner or lawful occupier may object by petition to the Chief Executive to the intended declaration. The Chief Executive, upon considering an objection made, may direct that (i) the intended declaration shall not be made or (ii) the objection be referred to the Chief Executive in Council. If the objection is referred to the Chief Executive in Council, the Chief Executive in Council may direct that (i) the intended declaration be made by the Antiquities Authority; (ii) the intended declaration be so made, subject to such variations or conditions as he thinks fit; or (iii) the intended declaration shall not be made. The decision of the Chief Executive in Council to declare a place, building, site or structure as a monument is amenable to judicial review.

We consider that the mechanism mentioned above is appropriate. Therefore, we have no plan to form an independent jury to review the Government's decisions on monument declaration.

(c) The current practice of declaring private properties as monuments does not contravene the Basic Law. Nevertheless, in formulating the heritage conservation policy, we have sought to strike a fair balance between respecting private property rights and heritage conservation, including adopting the highly flexibly practice of "economic incentives" to encourage or in exchange for private owners to conserve historic buildings in their ownership. In the past few years, we have effectively conserved many historic buildings with this initiative. We strongly believe that these successful examples have reduced by a large extent the number of legal actions which may be taken by owners to challenge the Administration's decisions.
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