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Old February 14th, 2008, 08:50 AM   #101
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Bids eyed in helping put zing back to historic cluster
Hong Kong Standard
Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The development bureau yesterday invited nonprofit organizations interested in reusing the historic Grade I Blue House Cluster in Wan Chai to send in their proposals under the social enterprise scheme.
The cluster includes the blue two-story, balconied tenement on Stone Nullah Lane, which was built in the 1920s, the yellow house on Hing Wan Street and the orange house on King Sing Street.

The bureau earlier said those currently living in the cluster could stay and would be incorporated as part of any revitalization plan, a change from its earlier stand that they must all be evicted.

Under this approach, the Hong Kong Housing Society will acquire the buildings' private ownerships and offer rehousing or compensation, then hand over the acquired properties to the government.

For those who opt to stay, the revitalization proposal must accommodate them in addition to improving their current shabby living conditions, especially since the buildings do not have modern toilets. Any proposal will have to include interim housing arrangements within Wan Chai for tenants during the renovation. All households have been notified about the arrangement, and an invitation for the reuse of the cluster will be announced later this year.

The cluster is not among the seven government buildings under the bureau's Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme. But the government will provide similar financial support for its reuse such as a one-off grant to renovate the buildings and a maximum HK$5 million to cover the starting costs and operating deficits of the social enterprise.

St James Settlement officer-in-charge Laurence Lam Kwok-wai confirmed his organization will apply to reuse the buildings.

He said the focus will be an innovative small business which can involve existing residents. But he said it would be difficult to run the enterprise successfully enough to pay for the annual maintenance costs that could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"This is the first time ever in which a heritage building with residents is to be preserved," Lam said. "We have to treasure the existing content and think of how to emphasize it as part of heritage education. It has an important role to play for future generations."
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Old February 18th, 2008, 11:44 AM   #102
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Architects turn up heat in conservation bid
Hong Kong Standard
Friday, February 15, 2008

Showcasing alternative visions for the Central Police Station compound, architects and urban planners yesterday called on the government to have a rethink before accepting the Hong Kong Jockey Club's HK$1.8 billion facelift proposal.

Organized by Heritage Hong Kong Foundation, the exhibition showcases seven designs and two site analyses in an attempt to stimulate debate on the Hollywood Road compound's conservation and its integration with new buildings.

The exhibition comes in the wake of the HK$1.8 billion facelift proposal the club unveiled in October and which will see the compound turned into an art and commercial site.

The most controversial part of the Jockey Club's plan is the 160-meter arts tower designed by famed architects Herzog and de Meuron featuring bamboo scaffolding-like external structures.

The plan was criticized by conservationists, architects and residents who say it does not merge with the compound's atmosphere and will block the views of nearby buildings.

Comprising the Central Police Station, Victoria Prison and the Central Magistracy, the compound was declared a monument in 1995; its oldest building was built in 1864.

Architect and urban planner Peter Cookson Smith, founding director of planning design firm Urbis, which is taking part in the exhibition, said the Jockey Club had become the sole agency pushing the project while other suggestions were left out in the cold.

Urbis, on a commission by the Swire Group in 2000, was the first firm to explore the compound's potential. It proposed simple renovations of the compound's 17 heritage buildings with a mix of small arts facilities, studios, shops and restaurants.

Smith disagreed with the club's "shock and awe" approach, saying the tower was completely out of proportion with the heritage compound.

Over the years, the historically rich compound has attracted various reuse proposals from interested parties, none of which caught the government's attention until the Jockey Club came up with its fully-funded offer.

In 2004, the Hotung family made a HK$500 million offer to redevelop the compound into a cultural complex with a visual arts academy, arts facilities, shops and cafes but the plan was rejected by the government.

Philip Liao, the architect behind the design, said his concept is not to build iconic buildings but to preserve the old and to inject new life into them.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 01:00 PM   #103
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Hollywood Road site likely to be kept off application list
19 February 2008
Hong Kong Standard

The Development Bureau aims to leave the former police married quarters in Hollywood Road out of the list of sites to be sold by application. Instead, the site is likely be used for government and community facilities and much needed public space, according to a report to be submitted to the Legislative Council's heritage conservation panel.

The 6,000-square-meter site descends from Staunton Street to Hollywood Road comprising two blocks of ex-police married quarters and a clubhouse for Junior Police Call.

It is currently zoned as Residential (A), and was removed from the List of Sites for Sale by Application announced in October 2007.

In revitalizing the site, the bureau proposed retaining the existing walls and the trees growing on them, the granite steps and the original granite plinths and pillars of the fenced wall.

The site will become part of an area to be developed for heritage tourism, such as the Central Police Station compound, Man Mo Temple and the Kom Tong Hall's Dr Sun Yat- sen museum. One proposal is to keep both blocks while the other is to demolish both.

Another proposal, which the bureau considers has the most flexibility, is to retain the upper block and demolish the lower one.

Another idea is to refurbish the JPC clubhouse into an exhibition gallery, tracing the history of one of Hong Kong's first schools.

The bureau will begin a three-month public engagement exercise on the future use of the site. The historic site was where the colony's first government institution used to stand.

The Central School, set up in 1862 on Gough Street, was attended by the founder of modern China, Sun Yat-sen.

Katty Law Ngar-ning from Central and Western Concern Group said the bureau should state clearly its commitment to preserve the site for community use.

``I will be very happy if the site is returned to public use,'' she said.

Law hoped the government would listen to the community over the next months and that with its massive surplus, there was no need to allow it to fall into the hands of developers.

The group applied to the Town Planning Board in January last year to change the land use to open space, government and community use, but this is now on hold because of an archaeological study.
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Old February 26th, 2008, 03:48 AM   #104
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URA plans to revamp 65 tenements
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Urban Renewal Authority will next month unveil its revitalization plans for 65 tenement houses in Hong Kong.
Authority chairman Barry Cheung Chun-yuen said the houses, ranging from Grade I to Grade III, had been identified and the authority will announce an "action plan" of revitalization by the end of March.

The direction of their conservation and rejuvenation will be similar to the authority's newly renovated tenement building at 18 Ship Street, which has been transformed into an organic restaurant scheduled to open this weekend.

It is the authority's first such project and Cheung noted the cost of renovation would have to be balanced alongside the building's historic value.

The Grade II building, built in the late 1930s, was the home of the Tse family, which ran an architectural contract business.

Most of the three-story building's elements were kept intact, such as the moulding on the facade and the former company's golden engravings, brass handrails and patterned tiles typically found in early 20th century buildings.

A similar renovation of the former Woo Chang pawn shop on Johnston Road is to be opened as a restaurant in April.

Cheung said the booming economy will not be a deterrent to redeveloping old districts, although acquisitions will be more difficult.

The owner of the Ship Street restaurant, Margaret Xu Yuan, also runs an organic delicacies restaurant. She said she strolled by the old building one day and fell in love with the nostalgic atmosphere. She named the restaurant "Yin Yang" and said it will specialize in local delicacies cooked with organic ingredients.

The restaurant now has a touch of the early 20th century with round wooden tables and chairs in white coverings with navy borders.

The authority injected HK$3 million into renovating the building, and outfitted it with a lift, a washroom for the handicapped and a fire escape.

Xu will pay monthly rent of HK$40,000 plus 12 percent of turnover.

Also announced yesterday was the appointment of URA's executive director Quinn Law as its new managing director.

Law has been with the authority for three years, and had previous experience in property investment and business strategy formulation.
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Old March 4th, 2008, 09:56 AM   #105
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URA considers buying heritage buildings
3 March 2008
South China Morning Post

The Urban Renewal Authority is considering buying some pre-war buildings with Cantonese-style terraces in order to preserve them.

But other options, including providing incentives to the owners to properly maintain the buildings, would also be considered, the authority's chairman, Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, said.

An action plan outlining how these pre-war buildings would be preserved is to be submitted to the URA's board for consideration later this month.

"These buildings represent part of Hong Kong history," Mr Cheung said. "Not many buildings with such architectural merits are left. The community will approve it as a way of preserving Hong Kong's history."

Mr Cheung said buildings with Cantonese-style terraces were scattered around the city, including in Mong Kok, Prince Edward, Wan Chai and Sham Shiu Po. Most were in private hands, he said.

A classic example of such architecture is the Woo Cheong Pawn Shop in Johnston Road, Wan Chai. The four-storey building is preserved by the URA and will be converted into commercial use. A shophouse at 18 Ship Street, a grade two historical building in the same district, has been converted into a restaurant after refurbishment.

"We can't compel the owners to keep the buildings," he said. "I hope to work with them, providing them with incentives [to preserve the buildings]."

So far, the URA has preserved seven of the pre-war buildings.

His comments follow last week's budget in which Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah pledged that the URA would use part of a HK$10 billion injection to strengthen its work to revitalise old areas and preserve old buildings.

Mr Cheung pointed out that preservation work was costly and there were no financial returns. "For redevelopment projects, our objective is to break even so that we can generate resources to compensate the residents," he said. "But for the preservation projects, we need resources that are separately allocated."
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Old March 12th, 2008, 01:09 PM   #106
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Gov't Press Release:
LCQ17: Historical buildings
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Old April 1st, 2008, 07:56 AM   #107
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Urban Renewal Authority Press Release:
URA Expands Conservation Strategy for Cantonese Verandah-type Shophouses

Examples for Cantonese Verandah-type Shophouses from the photos posted hkskyline in post#17 of this topic
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Old April 8th, 2008, 06:26 PM   #108
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Historic sites to escape wreckers
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bridges Street market and five postwar buildings in Sheung Wan have been saved from the wrecker's ball.

They will be conserved and turned into places commemorating Dr Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China.

In addition, new buildings in the area will not be allowed to exceed 25 stories.

The Urban Renewal Authority's planning and development executive director, Iris Tam Siu-ying, unveiled the plans for Staunton and Wing Lee streets yesterday.

The proposals relate to three sites covering a total area of 3,563 square meters, with a plot ratio of eight and a maximum building height of 100m. They cover an area around Centre Point, a Henderson Land residential project, and have a 150-year history.

"The buildings will not be more than 25 stories to cater for environmental and ventilation impacts," Tam said.

The authority has proposed the retention of a series of buildings, including Bridges Street market, and proposes to use them to commemorate Sun, although the exact nature of the commemoration was not made clear.

"Dr Sun used to perform baptisms in a building at the site of the market. It was destroyed in World War II and the market was then built there," said Tam, adding the roof of the market will be turned into a public open space.

The authority also proposes to conserve the terrace characteristics of Wing Lee Street and the stone steps at Shing Wong Street, which lie alongside and behind the market.

Two postwar low-rise buildings on Staunton Street and three on Wing Lee Street near the market will also be conserved.

"The four-story buildings are around 500 square feet per unit and can be used for cafes, restaurants, shops or community use," Tam said.

Other buildings on Wing Lee Street will be redeveloped into three- to four-story low-rise buildings to blend in.
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Old April 9th, 2008, 07:36 PM   #109
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Post-war Staunton St marketwill be preserved in revamp
8 April 2008
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong's first permanent post-war market - Bridges Street Market - will be retained in the redevelopment project at Staunton Street, Central, the Urban Renewal Authority said yesterday.

Five post-war tenement buildings and 100-year-old lanes will also be preserved under the authority's revised master layout plan submitted to the Town Planning Board. The new proposal will be released for public consultation today.

Authority executive director Iris Tam Siu-ying estimated that restoring the five dilapidated buildings would cost more than HK$20 million. But this would not add significantly to the total cost of HK$1.06 billion.

The development site was divided into three smaller sites because 19 per cent of the area, owned by Henderson Land, was excluded from the redevelopment area last year.

The authority was required to submit a revised master layout plan to the Town Planning Board.

"Apart from keeping the historic lanes and staircases, a few post-war tenement buildings and the first post-war market will be preserved," Ms Tam said.

According to the heritage assessment, the market is the first permanent post-war market in Hong Kong and was completed in 1951. It is also Hong Kong's first market built in the Bauhaus style - which can be seen in its asymmetry, extensive windows and utilitarian design.

Ms Tam said the market had two levels of historic value because it was also the site of the Preaching Home of the American Congregational Mission, where Sun Yat-sen, regarded as the founder of modern China, was baptised in 1883.

In December, plans were released offering the option of retaining the old market or demolishing it to make way for a Sun Yat-sen memorial square. The new plan saves the market, but the interior will be renovated to provide facilities for commemorating Sun's life and for community use. Open space on top of the two-storey market will be accessible from Shing Wong Street.

The new plan has still not gained full support from activists, who expressed concern that two planned 30-storey high-rises would block air flow and create a damaging visual impact on the area.

"Why can't we keep the current height and density?" Central and Western Concern Group spokeswoman Katty Law Ngar-ning asked.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 02:43 PM   #110
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Green group fights luxury homes bid at market site
21 April 2008
Hong Kong Standard



In the latest conservation battle over a historic site, a green group said yesterday it is seeking to block the erection of a 39-story building on the site of Wan Chai market.

Green Sense has filed an objection with the Town Planning Board voicing its opposition to the development of a 148-meter high luxury housing complex above the market, despite a pledge by the Urban Renewal Authority to preserve the structure as a Grade III building. After a bitter fight between conservationists and the URA last year over plans to demolish the market, the URA bowed to public pressure and decided to preserve the historic building under a HK$300 million plan to revamp Wan Chai.

But Green Sense was not appeased by the decision and said the housing development should not go ahead.

``The URA claims this is a form of conservation but that is not the case. The heritage value of this building will be ruined,'' Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong said.

``Wan Chai has been destroyed by different forms of redevelopment.''

Tam said the building would not retain its original function as a market and would, instead, make way for a shopping center.

Under URA plans, the front of the building will become a 929-square- meter shopping arcade and a parking lot and lift shafts will be built at the back where the market's eight supporting pillars stand. About 40 percent of the market structure will be preserved while 60 percent at the rear will be removed to insert the high rise.

As a second option, Green Sense will suggest the residences be built on top of an underused government education center opposite the market.

Chinese Estates already has the rights to build the complex.

Conservationist Ho Loy, who has thrown her support behind Green Sense, said the property developer does not understand why conservationists are protesting.

``Developers do not see themselves as shareholders of this city _ they feel no responsibility or public duty to retain buildings of public value.'' Ho said.

The market's 70 hawker stalls will be shifted into a new shopping mall called Zenith opposite the current site.

But Ho said an indoor market in a shopping mall would not work.
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Old April 25th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #111
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Gov't Press Release:
Government welcomes rezoning amendments for preservation of King Yin Lei
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Old April 28th, 2008, 07:10 AM   #112
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Revamp of heritage site behind schedule
Cheung Kong has not revealed reasons for delay on former marine police headquarters

27 April 2008
South China Morning Post

Redevelopment of the former marine police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui - long seen as a flagship for restoration of Hong Kong's heritage buildings - is running well behind schedule, with the government and developer refusing to reveal why.

The restoration of the 120-year-old site into a 132,000 sq ft retail and hotel complex was supposed to be finished on March 31.

Cheung Kong (Holdings), which paid HK$325.8 million for a 50-year land grant in May 2003, has already been warned repeatedly by the government about the delay of the project.

Workers have now been told to complete the project by July, but they believe the restoration will not be finished until at least August.

The government has sent six warning letters to Cheung Kong since November 1 asking it to explain the reasons for the delay and the estimated date of completion.

The government said the developer had set out the reasons for the delay and it was now examining them.

A government spokeswoman said it was possible developers had to pay compensation when projects were delayed.

"But in the case of the marine police headquarters, there has not yet been any decision," the spokeswoman said.

Cheung Kong did not get back to the Sunday Morning Post about reasons for the delay or the expected completion date.

A consultancy involved with the development said it had been told by Cheung Kong to keep all details about the project confidential.

Ng Cho-nam, a Town Planning Board member, demanded the government and developer disclose the reasons for the delay because they involved considerable social and economic costs to society.

"This is a project which should be open and transparent as it is a public resource. There should be commitment.

"The public has the right to know the reason for the delay and whether there have been any penalities or unreasonable tolerance by the administration."

Dr Ng said the redevelopment of the marine police headquarters was supposed to be "a role model" of ways of revitalising a historic monument and public expectations were high.

"The delay has to be taken seriously. The Central Police Station might adopt a similar model in the future," he said.

Architect Vincent Ng Wing-shun, a former vice-president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and member of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee, said compensation for the delay was necessary.

A worker at the site, who preferred to remain anonymous, said piling work had proved difficult because the ground was solid granite.

Part of the redevelopment included the controversial removal of the Tsim Sha Tsui hill to build a shopping arcade to overhang the structure.

"This site is in Tsim Sha Tsui, so everyone pays attention to it," the worker said.

"The site also has limited hours when piling can be done. The Cultural Centre, for example, may complain if construction noise is too loud."

Work on the site was now running from early morning until late at night in the hope of limiting the length of the delay.

"We were told by the developer to have it finished by July, but we don't expect it to be finished until August," the worker said.

The former marine police headquarters was built 120 years ago on a hill overlooking Victoria Harbour.

It is one of the four oldest surviving government buildings in Hong Kong.

The site had been eyed by developers since it was vacated in 1996.

Most of the buildings within the site were declared monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance.

The developer has previously angered conservationists by cutting down hundreds of mature trees and removing the hill to build the arcade.
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:41 AM   #113
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Lawmakers clash over conservation policy
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The government has approved the development of a controversial low-value ecological site at a country park as part of its nature conservation policy, the panel on environmental affairs revealed yesterday.
But lawmakers and green groups hit back, claiming the scheme did not go far enough to preserve country parks and that development should not be encouraged on green-belt land.

Sha Lo Tung is the first of 12 privately owned sites, earmarked by the government for conservation, to receive the green light for development by the Advisory Council on the Environment.

In exchange for developing an educational retreat and columbarium complex on low-value land, the owner will surrender all valuable land to the government, which will plough HK$120 million into conservation.

But Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah said there were still issues to iron out and the scheme is subject to Town Planning Board approval.

The government rejected five other applications under nature conservation policy, sparking criticism of the slow- pace and narrow scope of the scheme.

Lawmakers argued the scheme at Sha Lo Tung represented only 0.5 percent of the 12 sites identified by the government, and that a more sustainable option would be plot ratio swaps.

They said the government should not target country parks for development. Yau argued that the scheme was a sustainable option as it gave power to the landowner to conserve the land through the project.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 07:26 AM   #114
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Gov't Press Release:
Maryknoll Convent School declared a monument (with photos)

From the Gazette
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 07:38 PM   #115
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Back plan or mansion goes: owners' ultimatum
Contractors ready to knock down historic Jessville

17 May 2008
South China Morning Post

Owners of a historic mansion in Pok Fu Lam have threatened to tear it down unless the government backs their proposal to erect three multi-storey residential blocks on the site.

Ian Brownlee, planning consultant for Jessville's owners, said the hoardings were in place in preparation for demolition, but they had no definite schedule for work to start.

The 77-year-old structure, declared a proposed monument last year, was later denied monument status after the government said it had an assurance from the owners that the mansion would be kept as a residents' clubhouse.

The building was later classified by the Antiquities Advisory Board as a grade 3 listed building, which gives it no legal protection.

"We have no reason why the building can't be demolished," Mr Brownlee said. "The talks with the government have made no progress and the owners are ready to push ahead with the demolition plan."

He said the owners only wanted the government to agree to their proposal, which would enable development with a plot ratio of three, which was permitted under the outline zoning plan. "I don't know why the government does not support the proposal. We want to find out."

The owners propose to build three residential blocks of 13 to 27 storeys with 102 flats around the historic building. No extra land is needed, but the towers closest to the mansion will only be separated from it by a few metres.

A spokeswoman for the Development Bureau said the government had not received an application from the owners to demolish the mansion and had not entered any agreement with the owners on development density.

"We support an option which can achieve 'preservation-cum-development'," she said.

The Southern District Council had raised objections to the proposed scale of development and was worried the owners' rezoning proposal might have negative visual and traffic impacts.

Lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who chairs a Legislative Council subcommittee on the heritage status of Jessville, said it would be an administrative blunder if the mansion were torn down. "The government decided to lift the temporary monument status of the mansion. Now, the fate of the house is entirely in the hands of the owner," she said.

Legislator Patrick Lau Sau-shing, an Antiquities Advisory Board member, said the board would be "cheated" by the government if the demolition took place.

"We agreed to giving a grading to the mansion after getting reassurances from the government that it is to be preserved," he said.

The government should give the owners the right to realise the development potential of the site if the mansion could be preserved, he said.
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Old July 12th, 2008, 03:05 PM   #116
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Finally Declared!

Gov't Press Release:
King Yin Lei declared a monument (with photos)

From Gov't Gazette
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Old July 13th, 2008, 07:19 PM   #117
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Old July 16th, 2008, 07:35 PM   #118
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Central Police Station
Chance for a landmark site should not be lost

16 July 2008
South China Morning Post

The architecturally exciting transparent tower that was proposed by the Jockey Club as the centrepiece of its redevelopment of the Central Police Station site is not to be. Residents shot down the idea during the public consultation process as hindering their views and being a potential source of light pollution. It is disappointing that the project is now back to square one and the city has lost what could well have been its boldest landmark.

Hong Kong, it seems, is not yet ready for such innovation. The concerns of those living on Caine Road and elsewhere looking over the historic site are understandable. With the 168-metre scaffolding-clad structure expected to be removed from the proposal in favour of a shorter, squatter building, their harbour views will be preserved. Nonetheless, it is a pity that a "not in my backyard" mentality by so small a proportion of our population has played a part in putting paid to the design. One of the world's most recognisable buildings, the Sydney Opera House, met with similar objections during the design process. Authorities nonetheless went ahead with the project and the opera house is now synonymous with Sydney. International polls rank it among the best-known structures in the world.

All is not lost, of course. The Jockey Club has sent the project back to the same architects and in a year, as stunning an edifice could well be presented. Given that they were behind the "Bird's Nest" national stadium in Beijing, we can still hope for a great design. A different tack is also now being taken, focusing on redeveloping in a way that very much keeps the spirit of the historic site intact. The police station complex dates back to the beginning of the colonial era. The new proposal calls for the scaling back of the size of arts venues and leaving open spaces in their original context. These are wise moves, given sentiment towards greater heritage conservation in recent years. That the site is also large in area, on prime ground and in the heart of our city means that it has to be developed in a careful way.

The Jockey Club won the right to develop the site in unsatisfactory circumstances. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen revealed the scheme and announced the club would be the developer in his policy address nine months ago. Such a lack of transparency for a project valued at HK$1.8 billion was surprising. Nonetheless, the club has since gone about the plan in as responsible a manner as could be wished for. The views of the 567 written submissions and people who visited the exhibit during the six-month consultation process have been taken into consideration. Proposed plans have been torn up and new ones ordered.

Large-scale projects are not easy to get approved in Hong Kong. Our government well knows it lacks a popular mandate to rule, so can be overly sensitive to criticism of the schemes it puts forward. Experience has shown, however, that there is a need to win community support for such projects and this involves taking consultation exercises seriously.

The redevelopment of the Central Police Station still offers the chance to put in place something special. Blending history with arts and culture is the ideal way to deal with our heritage. If done well, it could serve as a model for other historic and culturally significant places in our city. It is disappointing that the designs for the observation tower have been confined to the waste basket. The circumstances under which it happened were as they should be, though. We can only hope that what is eventually built on the site is as eye-catching.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 05:34 AM   #119
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Old July 29th, 2008, 01:48 PM   #120
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MTR Press Release:
Historic Building revitalized under MTR West Island Line Project
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