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Old July 17th, 2012, 05:58 PM   #341
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Grand opening of Yau Ma Tei Theatre promotes further development of Cantonese opera
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Government Press Release



The Yau Ma Tei Theatre (YMTT), a Grade 2 historic building, has been converted into a contemporary performing arts venue, in particular for the promotion of Cantonese opera. The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, today (July 17) officiated at the grand opening of the revitalised YMTT.

Other officiating guests were the Chairman of the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, Mr Charles Chow; the Chairman of the Cantonese Opera Development Fund Advisory Committee, Mr Frankie Yeung; the Chairperson of the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, Dr Liza Wang; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; and the Director of Architectural Services, Mr Leung Koon-kee.

Among the celebrities and Cantonese opera stars attending the ceremony were Ms Hung Sin-nui, Mr Yuen Siu-fai, Mr Law Kar-ying, Mr Li Chi-kei, Mr Sun Kim-long, Mr Li Lung, Mr Liu Kwok-sum, Mr Yau Sing-po and Ms Wan Fai-yin. The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong performed the Cantonese opera works "Blessing by the God of Fortune" and "A Fairy Delivers Her Son to the Mortal Father" right after the opening ceremony.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and performed by well-known opera stars as well as young artists of the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, the traditional Cantonese opera works "Prime Minister of Six States" and "Birthday of the God of Venus" were staged at the Theatre of the YMTT in the evening and were met with an enthusiastic response from the public with full-house attendance.

Yau Ma Tei is one of the most interesting and colourful neighbourhoods in Hong Kong. The vibrancy of the Fruit Market, the singing performances at Yung Shue Tau, old tenement buildings and traditional stores create an irresistible urban charm. The YMTT, an integral part of the Yau Ma Tei community, has also witnessed the development of Hong Kong cinema.

The building, which opened in June 1930, is the only pre-World War II cinema building that remains in the urban area. It was meant to be a modest building and was built with brick and granite, the most basic and common materials at the time. It is characterised by mixed Chinese and Western design including its Chinese pitched roof, an art deco fa?ade and Dutch gable walls, and the most striking features are the two pillars at the front entrance, engraved with crying and laughing masks, as well as the theatre's proscenium arch.

It was once a popular spot for film buffs to see their favourite stars on-screen and has provided leisure and entertainment for residents in the area with many fond memories. According to existing records, its first film, "A Plum with Him" was shown on June 21, 1930. Western silent classics like Charlie Chaplin's "Behind the Screen" and "City Lights" had also been screened at the theatre.

In addition to film screenings, live shows ranging from kung fu performances to dances and small-scale Cantonese performances were staged in the theatre. Some of the famous Cantonese opera artists had performed in the theatre early in their careers. Due to changes in both the mode of operation for cinemas and the habits of cinemagoers, many cinemas were struggling to survive by the late 1980s. The YMTT was not able to meet these challenges and had to close its business in July 1998. It was classified as a Grade 2 historic building by the Antiquities Advisory Board in the same year.

The Red Brick Building adjacent to the YMTT was built in 1895 as an engineer's office for a major pumping station in Kowloon. It is the oldest surviving water pumping station building of the Water Supplies Department. The station ceased operation in 1911 and the Red Brick Building was classified in 2000 as a Grade 1 historic building. Its special features include the red brick fa?ade, cast iron rainwater pipes and hopper heads, arched verandahs and granite coping stones and pad stones to gable.

Conservation and conversion works were launched in 2009 to inject new life into the two buildings. The YMTT (including the theatre and the Red Brick Building) has now been converted into a performing arts venue for the promotion of various forms of Chinese opera, and in particular as a training and performance venue for nurturing Cantonese opera talents. The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, the venue partner at the YMTT since April this year, has the mission of nurturing up-and-coming and young Cantonese opera performers.

The grand opening fortnight celebration will be held from today until July 29 with events including a Fun Day, a Seminar on the Building and Heritage Conservation of the YMTT, guided tours, performance by the Tianjin Song Art Troupe for the Chinese Opera Festival 2012, and a series of Cantonese Opera Young Talent Showcase performances (Part 1) of the YMTT venue partnership scheme with programmes including "The Gold Life-saving Medal", "The Dragon Order", "The Warrior's Marriage", "The Ten-Year Dream", "The Story of Lu Yanqiu and Mei Yubing", "A Pedestal of Rouge Fragrance" and "The Lotus Lamp". There will also be a film programme entitled "Opera Sight and Sound at Yau Ma Tei Theatre", taking place at the Hong Kong Film Archive Cinema.

Detailed programme information can be found in the programme leaflet distributed at all performing venues of the LCSD. For enquiries, please browse the webpages at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalSe...rammes_1.php#1 and http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/CulturalSe...mtt_index.html or call 2264 8108.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 04:58 AM   #342
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Hotel on edge of the sea helps preserve our heritage
The Standard
Monday, July 23, 2012

The Tai O Heritage Hotel, seated on the edge of Hong Kong's unique Tai O fishing village, which to this day retains the indigenous heritage, combines native rural charm with a contemporary twist.

The icon, originally a colonial edifice built under British rule in 1902 as a police station to guard the shore against bandits, now nestles on a secluded headland abutting Shek Tsai Po Street in the west of the village.

The delicate architecture marries Western features such as arches with Chinese elements like the tiled roof.

Facing out, the hotel enjoys a view of the South China Sea.

As one of seven historic buildings that make up the first phase of the government's Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, the Old Tai O Police Station was preserved and converted after a proposal from the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation.

It trumped 22 other organizations that applied to use this Grade II historic site.

The hotel is tiny, with only nine rooms, a restaurant and a reception area - no additional facilities.

But that said, the hotel functions more as a center to educate about the building and community's history, and as a stop for visitors who may not be able to bear the two hours travel back to Hong Kong Island.

As a nonprofit enterprise, the hotel spends its income on maintaining the 110-year-old building, and any surplus goes toward supporting local residents and their businesses in the form of festivals such as the Deities Parade and the upkeep of buildings around the village.

Tai O Heritage Hotel is on Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O, Lantau Island.

Free tours are given daily (3pm and 4pm). Book at 2985-8383.

www.taioheritagehotel.com

Architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon don't always see eye to eye.
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Old August 1st, 2012, 08:56 AM   #343
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Historic wall needs to be preserved
The Standard
Wednesday, August 01, 2012

St Andrew's Church in Tsim Sha Tsui needs to expand, but has agreed not to demolish the historic buildings in its compound. The site is on a slope, so new facilities, notably an auditorium, can be built underground.

However, the church wants to link this new space to the street through the stone wall that currently runs along the side of Nathan Road. The wall is the last original feature left on this road, and a concern group wants the church to preserve it.

This is a classic case where the rights of a property owner clash with the views of heritage activists.

On one hand, the church, an organization that serves the community, needs space and has already agreed to preserve its older buildings.

On the other hand, the wall is a genuinely historic feature (although many passersby may not think it is especially beautiful).

The church has proposed reusing some part of the wall in the auditorium. The Antiquities and Monuments Office has proposed an alternative plan to save the wall, but it will reduce the size of the new facilities.

The church has the right to do as it pleases, as the government will not give the wall the status of a protected monument.

We all recognize that the church has been very accommodating up to now; would it be possible for architects to find a way to keep just some of the wall intact?

It would make the heritage activists - and me - very happy.

Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old August 2nd, 2012, 04:11 PM   #344
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SDEV's speaking notes (works policy areas) tabled at LegCo Finance Committee Special Meeting
Government Press Release Excerpt
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Following is the English translation of the speaking notes (works policy areas) of the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, tabled at the Finance Committee Special Meeting in the Legislative Council today (March 7):

Chairman,

Heritage Conservation

The Government is pressing ahead with the conservation of historic buildings. We have launched by phases a number of revitalisation projects for historic buildings under a diversified approach, which not only can help preserve historic buildings and enhance the urban cultural landscape, but also bring much benefit to the local economy.

Good progress has been made for the various revitalisation projects launched by our bureau in recent years. The six projects under Batch I of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) have progressed smoothly. Among them, the North Kowloon Magistracy has been revitalised into the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Hong Kong Campus, which has been in operation since September 2010. The Old Tai O Police Station has been revitalised into a boutique hotel, which was opened in late February 2012. The conservation and renovation works for the remaining four projects have commenced and are expected to be commissioned from mid-2012 to late 2012 (The four projects include: the revitalisation of Lui Seng Chun into a Chinese Medicine and Healthcare Centre, the revitalisation of the Former Lai Chi Kok Hospital into the Jao Tsung-I Academy, the revitalisation of Mei Ho House into a youth hostel, and the revitalisation of Fong Yuen Study Hall into a Tourism and Chinese Cultural Centre cum Ma Wan Residents Museum).

We are carrying out preliminary preparatory work for the three projects under Batch II of the Revitalisation Scheme. They are the revitalisation of the Old Tai Po Police Station into a landmark for the promotion of sustainable living and conservation, the revitalisation of the Blue House Cluster in Wan Chai to provide diversified community services, and the revitalisation of Stone Houses at Hau Wong Temple New Village in Kowloon City into a themed cafeteria-cum-visitor information centre. Funding application for the Stone Houses project was approved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on January 6, 2012. The projects of the Old Tai Po Police Station and the Blue House Cluster were discussed at the Legislative Council Public Works Sub-committee meeting on February 8, 2012, and funding approval for the projects will be sought from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council in April 2012.

Batch III of the Revitalisation Scheme (buildings to be revitalised include King Yin Lei, Haw Par Mansion, Bridges Street Market and the Former Fanling Magistracy) was launched on October 7, 2011. By the close of the application period on February 6, 2012, we received a total of 34 applications. It is envisaged that the selection exercise will be completed by the end of 2012.

The Central Police Station Compound will be revitalised into a centre for heritage, art and leisure. The revitalisation works commenced in late 2011 for completion at the end of 2014.

As for the project to transform the Former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road into "PMQ" by the Development Bureau in collaboration with the Architectural Services Department and the Musketeers Foundation, funding application was approved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on July 8, 2011. The project works commenced in early 2012 for completion at the end of 2013.

The Development Bureau and the Antiquities and Monuments Office will continue to proactively reach out to private owners and offer assistance (including technical advice and financial assistance for the maintenance of historic buildings as well as the offer of economic incentives for preservation-cum-development projects) to encourage and facilitate the preservation of historic buildings under their ownership.

The Development Bureau has commissioned a consultancy study on the setting up of a statutory heritage trust, which is expected to be completed by mid-2012. Upon completion of the study, the Government will thoroughly consider the consultant's recommendations.
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Old August 4th, 2012, 03:58 PM   #345
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Decision for Gardens long overdue
The Standard
Thursday, August 02, 2012

How many months have passed since the one-year protection order for Ho Tung Gardens on The Peak expired? Six.

And what's the decision? None.

What's the current situation? Absurd.

The most anyone hears nowadays are rumblings indicating the new government may scrap the plan to preserve the compound as a statutory monument, due to fears that taxpayers may wind up paying an exorbitant sum of money to compensate the owner, Ho Min-kwan, granddaughter of the late Sir Robert Hotung.

Ever since former development minister Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor - now the chief secretary - insisted the private property be protected from redevelopment into 10 smaller houses, there has been no progress in the negotiations to win the owner's consent.

If Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying presses ahead with an order to back Lam's proposal, the dispute will likely land in court for a decision on compensation that could run into billions of Hong Kong dollars.

At the risk of repeating myself, few members of the public, except for diehard conservationists, will agree with the move to spend so much money on this particular cause. The collective memory associated with Ho Tung Gardens is limited to the family and friends.

A decision is long overdue. To be fair to the property owner, Leung should make an announcement without delay.

Lam, known for a combative style that has won her the nickname "Superlady," has been championing conservation of late. But her stance backfired after she announced the redevelopment of the West Wing of the old SAR government headquarters, ahead of an Antiquities Advisory Board vote on its historical value.

Board chairman Bernard Chan Charnwut was drawn into the controversy after he was forced to cast the deciding vote to give it a low value rating.

Meanwhile, a source close to Ho said she is unaware of the latest status in her case. While she's waiting anxiously to hear further from the government, Ho is adamant it should be a civilized fight, although her rights may be trampled.

Hong Kong should be a society where discussions are based on reason rather than gimmicks. It had been rumored in high circles that in the case of King Yin Lei mansion on Stubbs Road, workers had to hammer on its roof tiles for awhile in order to draw the government's attention to start negotiations.

In the end, a deal that was little more than a straight land swap was sealed.

In theory, Ho could apply to the government for permission to tear down the premises after the protection order's expiry. But without a clear decision by Leung, could a preservation order be unexpectedly issued in the middle of the work, thereby derailing the project?

In the meantime, building costs are continuing to soar. The longer the wait, the higher the costs will become.

This farcical situation is fast building into a case where the outcome can only be unjust.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 07:55 AM   #346
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Tales of two cities
The Standard
Friday, August 17, 2012

In the early 1800s, Hong Kong was just a fishing village - at least that is the popularly held notion nowadays.

But Tom Ming Kay-chuen, executive secretary of the Antiquities and Monuments Office, says Hong Kong during that period was far from being just a fishing community.

"They might be referring to a particular vicinity. In fact, there were other industries thriving in Hong Kong at that time," Ming says.

Ming roughly divides the city's history into two parts: before and after the start of British rule.

During the pre-colonial period, fishing and farming were some of the important industries in the New Territories.

"There were other industrial developments such as the blue and white porcelain manufacturing industry in Tai Po," Ming says.

Wun Yiu is in the northeast New Territories comprising several villages. It is believed to be the only known place in Hong Kong for large-scale manufacturing of blue and white wares for a long period of time.

The site - where pieces of the ancient kilns of Wun Yiu village can be found - was declared a monument in 1983.

"The production amounted to 400,000 pieces a year, showing that Wun Yiu was a major manufacturer and also a supplier to some Southeast Asian countries, as some porcelain fragments were discovered in Malaysia," Ming says.

Even Islamic objects, such as the kendi - a common water container used by Muslims across Southeast Asia - were found in the village even though they were rarely used by local p
eople and very likely ready to be exported to Muslim countries.

"The earliest dated porcelain fragment had a 'made in the 15th year of Chongzhen reign,' which could mean that the Wun Yiu kiln was produced in the late Ming dynasty."

Ming says that Wun Yiu shows the industrial and economic status of the New Territories, and proves that Hong Kong had more to offer other than fish and farm produces.

Lots of migrants from different parts of China entered Hong Kong, and the Man and Tse clans brought in their craftsmanship.

When they arrived in Hong Kong, they were probably looking for a suitable place to establish a kiln site.

The area that they chose had rich clay mines in the hills, dense vegetation and a rich supply of firewood.

Sufficient hydropower for the watermills was provided by the streams running down the hill.

Their proximity to a harbor - today's Tolo Harbour - proved to be advantageous as they were able to ship their porcelain products to other countries easily.

As finer and cheaper porcelain wares manufactured in kilns along the coast of Guangdong province emerged in the market, Wun Yiu faced tough competition from other sites. In the 1930s, it eventually ceased to operate.

After Hong Kong Island was occupied by the British in 1841, Central and Sheung Wan became the melting pot of different cultures.

The actual spot in Sheung Wan where British soldiers first landed was called Possession Point, while Hollywood Road was one of the first roads built in the city.

"Aberdeen Street was like an invisible line cutting Hollywood Road into two - the western half was populated with Chinese while the eastern half was popular with the British," Ming says.

Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road was an important landmark for the Chinese living in the area. Merchants raised money to build the temple in 1847 upon seeing the rapid influx of mainland migrants who were eager to earn a living in Hong Kong.

The temple was more than a place for worship and blessing. It was also a compound where they could hold social functions.

Kung sor was the assembly hall where community gatherings were held, disputes resolved and decisions made by social leaders.

In 1880, Tung Wah Hospital began to organize the Man Mo Temple Free School to provide free education for local citizens.

Heading east, one will find the former Police Married Quarters, which was also the site of the former Central School. Prominent figures like Ho Tung and Sun Yat-sen were graduates of the school.

The Central Police Station compound is located at 10 Hollywood Road.

"The compound contained the Central Police Station in front, the former Central Magistracy on one side and Victoria Prison at the back, where lawmaking and law enforcement were all done in one place, unlike today," Ming says.

The Commissioner for Heritage's Office under the Development Bureau has organized a roving exhibition that promotes the territory's various historical landmarks and heritage sites.

The Hollywood Road exhibition will be at the High Block of Queensway Government Offices until September 29 while the Wun Yiu exhibition will be at the lobby of the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre until October 31.

The Hong Kong Heritage Tourism Expo - Access Heritage provides a number of routes to historical sites around the SAR.

Website: www.heritage.gov.hk
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Old September 7th, 2012, 03:42 PM   #347
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"Revitalisation of King Yin Lei" roving exhibition to be held in September and October
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Government Press Release

The Commissioner for Heritage's Office of the Development Bureau (DEVB) will hold a roving exhibition in September and October to display exhibition materials, including display panels and scale models, submitted by the shortlisted applicants for revitalisation of King Yin Lei under the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.

A spokesman for the DEVB today (August 30) said, "The roving exhibition aims to collect public views on the revitalisation of King Yin Lei and help promote heritage conservation work."

Details of the roving exhibition are as follows:

Code:
  Date                        Venue
  ----                        -----
September 7 to 19       Thematic Exhibition Gallery,
(closed on              Hong Kong Heritage Discovery
September 13)           Centre, Kowloon Park,
                        Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui,
                        Kowloon

September 21 to         Ground Floor Lobby,
October 4               Sha Tin Government Offices,
                        1 Sheung Wo Che Road,
                        Sha Tin, New Territories

October 16 to 29        Ground Floor Lobby,
(closed on Saturdays,   Revenue Tower,
Sundays and             5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai,
public holidays)        Hong Kong
"The exhibition will also be held at four special open days at King Yin Lei on October 6, 7, 13 and 14," the spokesman added.

Each open day at King Yin Lei at 45 Stubbs Road, Hong Kong, will have two morning sessions, from 9.30am to 11am and 11am to 12.30pm, and two afternoon sessions, from 2pm to 3.30pm and 3.30pm to 5pm.

Each person can obtain a maximum of four tickets in any one session on a first-come, first-served basis. A total of 14,400 tickets will be distributed to the public at the following venues on September 22 and 23:

* Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, Kowloon Park, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (from 10am to 6pm)
* Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong Park, 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong (from 10am to 5pm)
* Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, New Territories (from 10am to 6pm)

Tickets that remain undistributed on September 23 will be distributed at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre from the following day (September 24). The Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre is open from Mondays to Saturdays (except Thursdays) from 10am to 6pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 7pm.

For details about the roving exhibition, please visit the heritage conservation website (www.heritage.gov.hk) or call 2848 6230.

The public are reminded that no parking facilities are available for visitors at the exhibition venues. Visitors are advised to use public transport to access the venues.

King Yin Lei is a declared monument and one of the historic buildings in the third batch of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, which invites revitalisation proposals from non-profit-making organisations for adaptive reuse by operating in the form of social enterprise.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 05:59 PM   #348
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Lui Seng Chun

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Lui Seng Chun by EugeneLimPhotography, on Flickr
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Old November 30th, 2012, 08:38 AM   #349
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Central Market
The exterior has just been redecorated with art.

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HongKong_streetPainting02 by kmatm, on Flickr

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HongKong_streetPainting01 by kmatm, on Flickr

The interior remains closed except the Mid-levels escalator corridor.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:53 PM   #350
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Ho Tung redevelopment to go ahead, west wing saved
Tuesday, 04 December, 2012, 7:53pm
South China Morning Post Excerpt



The owner of the historic Ho Tung Gardens can go ahead with plans to redevelop the mansion after the government on Tuesday ruled against declaring it a monument – a legal status that would require its preservation.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that the decision not to list Ho Tung Gardens as a monument was made by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Executive Council.

He noted that the 83-year-old villa on The Peak was privately owned, and blocking its redevelopment plan – which has already obtained official approval – might lead to a court fight with its owner.

Ho Min-kwan, the owner of the historic gardens and granddaughter of late tycoon Robert Hotung, has plans to demolish the main house and replace it with 10 smaller houses as part of a HK$3 billion redevelopment plan.

Chan said the government had offered Ho a land exchange deal and HK$3 billion in compensation to preserve the mansion, but this was rejected by Ho.

The government would continue to negotiate with Ho in the hope that parts of the historic mansion might be preserved.

“I hope the owner can consider preserving parts of the gardens in the redevelopment. Our policy objective is to strike a balance between respecting private ownership and protecting heritage,” he said.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 08:10 AM   #351
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Historic building torn down
The Standard
Monday, December 10, 2012





A Grade 3 historic factory building in To Kwa Wan, built in 1954, has been torn down, with one wall left standing.

The demolition of Eastern Cotton Mills has left conservationists fuming. They said nothing was done to preserve it in the face of Hong Kong's diminishing historic structures.

They are also concerned about the apparent lack of communication between government departments as the owner was given permission to demolish the building two months before it was included in a government historic trail.

The factory was rated a Grade 3 building in November, 2010. In September last year, the new owner said the company intended to revitalize the deserted building and was likely to put more money into its conservation. It is not clear why he changed his mind.

According to the Antiquities and Monuments Office, Grade 3 buildings do not have to be preserved per se and can just be photographed and documented. Also, the owner of a Grade 3 building has the right to apply for reconstruction.

But senior campaign manager of the Conservancy Association Peter Li Siu- man said it would have been more reasonable if the owner had left a facade that included the front gate and other characteristics of the building rather than a plain wall.

Li said the government had included Eastern Cotton Mills along with the Ma Tau Kok Animal Quarantine Depot (Cattle Depot) and the Sung Wong Toi rock in the heritage trails for the urban renewal plan of Kowloon City after the consultation in August.

But it was discovered that the Buildings Department had approved its destruction two months earlier.

"This clearly shows a lack of communication between government departments," Li said.

An Antiquities Office spokesperson said the building owner agreed to preserve only one wall and include it for further development. The Development Bureau said the office had acknowledged the company's plan to demolish the building.

The bureau also said preserving one wall of Eastern Cotton Mills still fits the Grade 3 building conservation requirement. The government did not encourage the owner to redevelop the area.

The new owner of the 1954 factory and its previous owner, Adrian Fu Hau- chak, of Palace City Ltd - who said the building has no conservation value - could not be reached for comment last night.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 10:52 AM   #352
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Patience pays off at Ho Tung Gardens
The Standard
Monday, December 10, 2012

The government has finally decided not to declare Ho Tung Gardens a historical monument, clearing the way for redevelopment of the property on The Peak.

The Chinese renaissance villa had been the subject of heated controversy, with conservationists wanting preservation, while owner Ho Min-kwan insisted on exercising her private property rights.

Opinions on the issue may differ, but Ho had the indisputable right to demand compensation should her property be taken.

Land swapping had been mooted at one stage as a way to preserve the mansion at 75 Peak Road, which dates back to 1927.

Had the government persisted, Ho - granddaughter of Robert Hotung, one of Hong Kong's early tycoons - would have difficulty fighting official intervention. But as it turned out, the matter was resolved in her favor.

In dealing with the government on the matter, Ho acted in a "gentlemanly" manner, showing restraint by corresponding with officials through her lawyers. She reportedly rejected the idea of using the negotiation tactic of pre-emptive demolition like at King Yin Lei, another historic building.

As a member of one of the territory's most prominent families, Ho chose patience to avoid controversy, and let the matter resolve itself over the course of two terms of government. While maintaining a low profile, Ho managed to defend her position on the principle that private property rights should be protected by law.

The way she conducted herself left wriggle room for both sides -
showing the cleverness of her behind-the-scenes PR advisers.

Ho's plan is to redevelop the site into a number of residential houses, with her moving into one.

As the controversy had dragged on for years, soaring construction costs would have forced an owner with less financial clout to give up.

Luckily, any rise in costs will be more than offset by the breathtaking surge in property prices on The Peak in recent times.

This again proves the wisdom of the old Chinese saying: "Fortune will knock on the doors of those who wait."

Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily
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Old December 31st, 2012, 04:54 PM   #353
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Clumsy about-face on two heritages
The Standard
Wednesday, December 05, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If anything, they're examples of political expedience by a government trying desperately to put out as many fires as possible.
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 05:40 PM   #354
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Monster site hits new note
The Standard Excerpt
Friday, February 22, 2013

*********************





Another plan calls for the Bridges Street market in Sheung Wan to be revitalized into the first news museum in Hong Kong, where historic news articles and clips can be stored and conserved.

Among the 15 applications, the Journalism Education Foundation won the right to turn the market into a museum. The Hong Kong News-Expo will promote liberal arts education, including media education programs, experimental studios and workshops.

"The wet market in Sheung Wan is the best location for such a museum as a dozen of the older newspapers used to operate there," Chan said. The Grade 3 historic building in Bauhaus style will be open six days a week with free admission.



The third plan is for the former Fan Ling magistrates' courts to become a leadership training center for youth.

The projects are expected to be completed and operating by 2016 and 2017.

The committee was unable to select a revitalization plan for King Yin Lei mansion, a declared monument on Stubbs Road.

The three projects are estimated to cost HK$284 million for renovation and HK$12 million for subsidies.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:28 PM   #355
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[QUOTE=hkskyline;93354725]Grand opening of Yau Ma Tei Theatre promotes further development of Cantonese opera
/QUOTE]

image hosted on flickr

Fruit Market Yau Ma Tei Hong Kong 2012-02-02 油麻地果欄 by richardwonghk6, on Flickr
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Old March 25th, 2013, 05:53 AM   #356
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Tickets fly for mansion saved from wreckers
The Standard
Monday, March 25, 2013



Scores turned up yesterday to collect entry tickets to historic Kin Ying Lei Mansion, which is to be open to the public on April 20 and 21.

The mansion was in the process of being demolished when the government stepped in amid a public outcry and declared it a monument in July 2008.

This was followed by intense negotiations with the owners and a deal struck.

Among those collecting entry tickets was Joyce Ng who said preserving the Mid-Levels mansion will allow future generations to relive history.

"This place is of historical value. By preserving it, we can educate both residents and tourists about our past and our heritage," Ng said.

Another enthusiast was Allen Chan who brought along his wife. "I feel that the government can consider converting this into a history museum to educate the public about Hong Kong's past," he said.

More than 200 tickets were scooped up by noon.

"This place is very famous. Many celebrities have visited and many movies were filmed here. I was very glad when told about the open day and came down here to collect the tickets. I will bring my relatives too," Wendy Chan said.

"The scenery there is really beautiful and to tear it down would be a waste. I feel that the place should be open for the public so that they can learn about history, appreciate the architecture and enjoy this monument and the scenery."

Situated on 45 Stubbs Road, above Happy Valley Racecourse, the mansion, designed by British architect AR Fenton-Rayen on a 50,650-square-foot site, was completed in 1937.

In September 2007, demolition work sparked a public outcry and calls for its preservation.
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Old April 8th, 2013, 10:02 AM   #357
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HK$700m conservation project lost in time
Flower market shophouses were to get an Urban Renewal Authority revamp. Four years on, the plan looks as tired as the buildings
Monday, 08 April, 2013
South China Morning Post

A plan to conserve a row of historic shophouses in Mong Kok's flower market has been delayed indefinitely, with the Urban Renewal Authority acquiring only half of the properties there.

When the URA announced the HK$710 million scheme in September 2008, it said the 10 pre-war shophouses would be renovated and turned into an "artistic floral market", with the first phase to be completed in 2014.

Four years on, there has been no update on the project - but when questioned by the Post, the authority confirmed that the acquisition was going slower than expected, with some owners not willing to sell.

It has only managed to acquire half of the 37 units within the buildings, and has secured just two shophouses outright.

"We will first go ahead and renovate the two blocks we hold and demolish the illegal structures. We are not in a hurry to buy out the remaining units. There is no timetable for doing so," a spokesman for the authority said.

It had not decided on the use of the two buildings.

He added that the row of shophouses, No 190 to 212 Prince Edward Road West, faced no redevelopment threat because the authority was now the main landlord.

But the condition of the buildings is not satisfactory. As the Post observed, illegal structures are present at the rear of some of the shophouses and some of the fire escapes were blocked with rubbish. Residents and shopkeepers said the top unit at No 196 had recently been subdivided into two levels for five flats.

When the shophouses were built by Franco-Belgian land developer Credit Foncierre d'Extreme Orient in 1932, Prince Edward was a community of three- and four-storey shophouses and apartment blocks.

For the surviving row, which has grade-two historic status, the past two decades have seen most of the ground-floor shops occupied by florists, while filmmakers and dancers have taken over the upper studios. A few remain as flats.

Peter Lee Siu-man, campaign manager of the Conservancy Association, said it was unacceptable that the historic buildings were occupied by subdivided flats. "The buildings' condition may not be very bad now but they are gradually falling into disrepair," he said.

"It's disappointing that the authority has failed to execute the project on schedule despite a high-profile start. You can see the authority accord a lower priority to heritage conservation, compared to the way it handles redevelopment projects, for which a clear timetable is set."

Lee called on the authority to step up efforts to negotiate with owners.

The owners, some of which are investment companies, could not be reached for comment.

Tenants have mixed feelings about the URA taking over. The Made In Hong Kong film director Fruit Chan Kuo, who rents an office in one of the shophouses, was glad his landlord had not sold up and said the URA's track record in conservation did little to inspire his confidence. Citing one of the URA's projects in Wan Chai as an example, he added: "If one day the URA really takes over, I hope they will let me stay on at a reasonable rent. They have turned Wo Cheong Pawn Shop into exclusive restaurants for the rich and tourists."

Chan moved in 20 years ago when Face/Off director John Woo was also a tenant. Now actor Chow Yun-fat rents the office next door to Chan's, and film producer Amy Chin is downstairs.

"I like this place. It's well connected with public transport, and you are surrounded by flowers. It's a lively neighbourhood."

His building appeared the best maintained among the 10 shophouses and he said the landlord was willing to invest in its upkeep.

On the ground floor, Cheng Shui-mui, who runs a flower business set up by her father in the '80s, said she felt anxious not knowing if her landlord would sell up to the URA.

"If the authority one day really takes over, I hope it can let us come back," she said.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 07:30 AM   #358
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Owner puts $4.5b tag on historic Ho Tung Gardens
The Standard
Wednesday, May 08, 2013







Photo source : http://www.devb.gov.hk/en/publicatio...ex_id_163.html

In a surprise move, the owner of Ho Tung Gardens has put the Peak property on the market for HK$4.5 billion. It comes after the government's failed attempts to declare the site a historical monument.

Ho Min-kwan, granddaughter of late business tycoon Robert Hotung, approached property agents recently to sell the 120,000-square-foot site - including a mansion built in 1927 - at 75 Peak Road.

This is a change of plan from her stated intention last year to demolish the Chinese renaissance-style mansion and to develop the site for 12 townhouses.

Ho Tung Gardens exemplifies a mixture of Chinese and Western cultural elements. During Hotung's time, The Peak was reserved for Europeans. Chinese were not allowed to live there. Hotung, a Eurasian, was the first non- European to receive permission from the government to build a home in the area. Ho Tung Gardens marked the rising status of the local community.

The government negotiated with Ho Min-kwan, the sole owner, in the hope of preserving the Gardens, but the effort was in vain.

The site includes a landscaped garden with a pavilion, pagoda and other features. The administration proposed to declare it a historic monument in 2011 but faced opposition from Ho. The idea was scrapped later.

Had the government insisted on monument status and barred Ho from redeveloping, it was considered likely she would have taken the case to court to seek compensation.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said earlier preserving Ho Tung Gardens would lead to huge legal fees while compensation was estimated at HK$3 billion.

Instead, he said the Development Bureau would review its policies on old private buildings, including the extent of historical value and the amount of compensation, when considering preservation. The government estimated the chance of winning the case was not high.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 09:23 AM   #359
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What's a pity is that they will tear this down, and in its place will rise a bunch of classless properties still called "To Hung Gardens", as if nothing had been lost...
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Old May 9th, 2013, 05:34 PM   #360
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The owner's descendants don't think that way. They think it has no preservation value and should be redeveloped. The government tried to step in but it is private property so they encountered a number of difficulties.
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