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Old December 13th, 2008, 07:52 PM   #161
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On the history trail
School opening access to the past

13 December 2008
South China Morning Post

Taking a stroll around the green, historical campus of St Stephen's College on a fine day, one will probably be amazed by its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The 105-year-old school, located in a tranquil part of Stanley, has witnessed changes in the city from wartime to peacetime over the past century.

To principal Louise Law Yi-shu, the campus is more than just an ideal place to escape from the hurly-burly of city life. It is also a perfect site for Hongkongers, especially students, to learn more about local and world history.

She recently decided to set up a heritage trail around the school, covering an area of about 150,000 square metres, to guide people through nine historical points in the locality.

"One of the most historic constructions in the school is the main building. The hall of the building was once turned into a military hospital by the government days after the Japanese invaded into Hong Kong [during the second world war]," Dr Law said.

"When the Japanese forced their way into our school [early on Christmas Day in 1941], they killed more than 50 wounded allied soldiers."

Tam Cheung-huen, who was then the school's head of Chinese studies, was also one of the victims. His remains were later buried in the Stanley Military Cemetery, also a part of the heritage trail.

Two expatriate teachers at the school, John Gaunt and Arthur Job, who had joined the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps as Japanese troops advanced on the city, also lost their lives in the war.

Job was killed in mid-December, 1941, during fighting while Gaunt was taken prisoner and died at the Shamshuipo Prisoner of War Camp on January 4, 1944.

During the occupation, from 1941 to 1945, the school was turned into an internment camp and housed about 1,000 people.

Peter Martin, an Australian now in his 70s, was one of the internees.

"When we [my family] were in the Mary quarters [part of the camp], we overlooked the jail. There were a few prisoners from Stanley camp who escaped and headed away to China. Unfortunately, the Japanese caught most of them and they brought them back, and put them in Stanley jail.

"And if you looked into Stanley jail, there used to be a big compound in the middle. There they used to maltreat them," said Mr Martin, who saw internees being shot. . "But in the camp itself, that sort of thing didn't happen."

He said the Stanley camp was "a lot more civil" than military camps, and they were allowed to study and entertain themselves.

"We used to be able to go swimming down at the beach below Stanley Fort. That was one of the good things," he said. "For the first 18 months, maybe, the children at the camp would be able to go to school."

The school was in St Stephen's hall, which is now a library.

He said that, of the four teachers he knew, three were from the camp and the other was from St Stephen's College. But classes were suspended when they ran out of paper.

"Down at the end of the hall there was a stage. They used to have plays and everything like that in camp," he recalled. "The Japanese used to come in sometimes and watch things. Other times, they didn't. They let us alone."

Carefree as it might sound, he said he felt anxious in the camp, fearing that the Japanese would kill them all if Japan lost the war.

The school's sports field was turned into a vegetable farm to provide much-needed food for the internees but Mr Martin said they still did not have enough to eat.

"I think they say you need so many hundred calories, like 1,600 calories minimum a day. I think we were down to about 700, so people lost a lot of weight. We were all skin and bone. I know when I came out of the camp, I was 31/2 stone [about 22kg]," he said. He was then about 14 years old.

Barbara Anslow, 90, a Briton who also lived in the Mary quarters during the war, recalled: "The food was always our principal talk. At least, thank God, we always had something to eat."

She said the quarters were very crowded. "But luckily, we had a small room, my mum, my two sisters and myself - and one other 'lady' . Eventually, 'she' got evicted. And it was OK. People got used to it."

"It was really like you were in a small village where most people knew everybody else and it was run very, very well by committees and our representative of internees."

Ms Anslow said she had learned a great deal from the experience.

"Before the war, English people tended to live just with English people. In the camp we mixed with lots of other nationalities and religions, and Chinese, well perhaps [those] married to English persons or something like that."

Traces of the war can also be found at the school's chapel, where there is a plaque commemorating soldiers of the Royal Artillery who died in the war and victims of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru in 1942.

The ship, with about 1,800 allied prisoners of war on board, was torpedoed by the USS Grouper off China's coast when it was heading to Japan from Hong Kong.

The Japanese gave no indication that there were prisoners aboard and the American submarine captain thought he was attacking a ship carrying only Japanese troops.

More than 800 prisoners of war died in the tragedy.

"These historical buildings are worth preserving," Dr Law said. "We have a very unique history because very few schools witnessed the second world war. Almost no school in Hong Kong was turned into an internment camp."

The school campus is now listed as a grade-two historic building, which means it is of special merit and should be selectively preserved.

"When you talk about history, most of the students say, 'I don't like history because it happened so long ago ... so it's very boring'.

"But when you tell them that history is not something which is so far away, it's something that is just next to you, you're immersed in history itself, then history comes alive, which is important."

Dr Law said that by setting up the trail and training students to act as guides, she wanted to arouse pupils' interest in history.

"It is an important education process because they understand, first of all, the significance of the various buildings and later on [they learn] to communicate with people. This is the skill of oral expression.

"Also, it develops a sense of belonging to and a sense of pride in the school," she said.

The trail will be inaugurated on Thursday and will probably be opened to the public after the Lunar New Year.

Dr Law said the trail would be open to visitors on one Saturday of every month and details would be announced on its website.

About 70 students from Form One to Form Six had been trained as guides by the school and the Antiquities and Monuments Office, and they would show groups around the campus. Student visitors would also be given worksheets as learning aids.

Dr Law said she also wanted to turn one of the five bungalows at school into a mini-museum, to exhibit the school's more precious antiques.

She had also asked students to interview the then-internees and the school's alumni whenever the chance arose.

"The purpose is to teach students that in order to study history you have to do research. When you do research you have to do it carefully. It is very rigorous. You have to collect materials - raw materials, first-hand or second-hand materials, analyse them and dig into something deeply."

As the call for heritage conservation has grown from a whisper to a roar in the community over recent years, students' awareness of the issue had increased dramatically, Dr Law said.

"People began to realise that there should be a balance between development and conservation. Change is one side of it but conservation is another side of it. Tradition and transformation - the two sides must be balanced.

"You must conserve certain parts of the past as a living testimony to what happened, which is important to the education of our students.

"The government already feels public pressure over the problem and is stepping towards the right direction, but it takes time."
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Old December 15th, 2008, 06:27 AM   #162
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Slim hope for Sunbeam Theatre lease extension
13 December 2008
South China Morning Post

The government still hopes the Sunbeam Theatre, Hong Kong's hub for Cantonese opera, will keep running even though the chance that its landlord will extend the lease again appears to be slim.

Speaking at yesterday's Legco home affairs panel meeting, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs So Kam-shing said: "We are not giving up yet."

Mr So told the panel that the landlord and Sunbeam Theatre had not yet reached an agreement over the North Point premises, "but we hope that they can continue negotiations".

The theatre's lease expires at the end of next month, with closure expected in early February after Lunar New Year performances.

Earlier in the week, the government admitted that the Home Affairs Bureau had sent a letter to the landlord to explain the situation and expressed the hope the landlord would continue to support the Cantonese opera sector.

But Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, who represents the sports, performing arts, culture and publication functional constituency in the Legislative Council, said a lease extension did not look likely.

"I have been in contact with the landlord but it's not likely that the landlord will change its mind," Mr Fok said.

The government has proposed converting Yau Ma Tei Theatre, a grade two historic building, and the nearby Red Brick Building, a grade one historic building, into a Xiqu activity centre, as a training ground for young Cantonese opera talent and hopefully a tourist attraction. The project would include a 300-seat theatre, management offices and rehearsal rooms.

It has been estimated the project will cost HK$171 million and be completed in 2011. The government will also build a new annex building at Ko Shan Theatre for Cantonese opera performances by 2012.

Legislators expressed concern about where Cantonese opera would be shown in the years between the possible closure of the Sunbeam Theatre and the opening of the new venues.

Mr So said the government had contingency plans if the Sunbeam Theatre closed and had reserved show dates at Leisure and Cultural Services Department venues for Cantonese opera performances.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 05:55 AM   #163
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Time running out for Jessville as talks with owners fail
20 December 2008
South China Morning Post

Owners of the historic Jessville mansion in Pok Fu Lam have threatened to knock it down after a year-long negotiation with the government failed to give them economic incentives to preserve it, their consultant said.

This is the second time the owners have issued such a warning since May, when they demanded the government back their proposal to erect three multi-storey residential blocks surrounding Jessville.

The government was surprised at the news and noted it with regret, a Development Bureau spokeswoman said, adding that discussions were continuing but a consensus on the redevelopment density had yet to be reached.

Any development in Pok Fu Lam needed strong justification, and district councillors and neighbours were very sensitive towards bulky and tall buildings incompatible with the environment, she said.

"The doors for discussion with the owner remain fully open on the government side, with a view to achieving a preservation-cumdevelopment option," she said.

The owner's redevelopment proposal was scheduled to be discussed by the Town Planning Board yesterday, but the owners withdrew it after meeting government officials the day before.

"Time has run out. [The owners] may now demolish the building," the owner's planning consultant Ian Brownlee said. "It's been two years, we have had numerous meetings, but the government is still considering, still covering up what they want."

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

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

The owners had proposed in two options to build three blocks of 13 to 27 storeys around Jessville. In one option, no extra land was needed but the towers closest to the mansion would only be a few metres away. In the other, the owners ask the government to allow them to extend the site to a green belt area.

Mr Brownlee said the government gave no incentives for either, but instead hinted at a reduction of the plot ratio, the formula that determines the density of the development. "The objective of finding a balance between conservation and development was lost sight of in a bureaucratic paper chase," he said.

Antiquities board member Ng Cho-nam doubted the owners' sincerity in preserving Jessville, and said the best opportunity was lost when it was deprived of monument status. Bernard Chan, appointed chairman yesterday, said he would not want to see Jessville go, but buying it out with public money would be unlikely to meet public support.

He believed a heritage trust should be set up as soon as possible to prevent a similar occurrence.

The advisory board in the future would engage the public before grading historic buildings, he continued, noting that the board's job had often fell short of public expectation.

The board, reshuffled, will see five new members: Lee Ho-yin, director of architectural conservation at Hong Kong University; Tracey Lu Lei-dan, an anthropologist at Chinese University; Billy So Kee-long, an historian at Chinese University; Anissa Chan Wong Lai-kuen, principal of St Paul's Co-educational College and Lilian Law Suk-kwan, director of the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 10:36 AM   #164
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Deity's approval sought before work started on high-rise beside historic temple
27 December 2008
South China Morning Post

Housing Department engineers not only had to overcome planning and construction problems in building a public housing estate next to a historic temple - they also had to seek permission from the resident deity.

The biggest problem was sinking deep foundations on the narrow strip of land in Kowloon City without damaging Hau Wong Temple, a Grade I historic building sited just tens of metres away.

The department had never built an estate so close to a historic monument before.

"We could not use traditional pile drivers as the vibration they caused might damage the statues inside the temple," Ir Chan Siu-tack, the department's chief structural engineer, said. "Nor could we move the statues away, as they are extremely valuable to the temple."

The solution was a 360-degree rotator, which rotates and bores into the ground simultaneously, minimising vibration and noise.

Mr Chan said the year-long foundation phase took "a little longer" than in normal building projects.

But before any of that began, the construction team sought approval from Hau Wong, the main deity of the 278-year-old temple, through a religious ceremony. Mr Chan said the Chinese temple committee that managed the temple was supportive of the project.

The estate, expected to be finished by the first half of 2010, cost about HK$224 million, of which the foundation phase accounted for about 14 per cent. The 10,000 square metre site was formerly the Tung Tau cottage area. With a steep slope taking up more than 40 per cent of the land, only one T-shaped building could be built. The 40-storey building will have 799 flats, ranging from studios to two-bedroom apartments.

With the estate next to the Chinese Christian Cemetery, Mr Chan said four flats on each floor would have a cemetery view, although planners had done their best to minimise the cemetery outlook. "We adopted the T-shape design because it blocked most of the cemetery view."

The city has been increasingly concerned about the "wall effect" - large buildings or groups of buildings blocking airflow. Mr Chan said that while the estate was taller than most of its neighbours, residents found it acceptable after much communication with the Kowloon City district council and Housing Department.

The estate was designed to fit into its surroundings, he said. For example, the facade of the building, with graphics of bamboo and Chinese traditional "lucky clouds", was a match with Hau Wong Temple.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 05:51 PM   #165
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Rent subsidy may save Sunbeam Theatre
24 December 2008
South China Morning Post

A new plan being considered by the government could save the embattled Sunbeam Theatre.

Democratic Party lawmaker Kam Nai-wai said the plan included the government paying part of the rent.

Mr Kam was speaking after a meeting yesterday with the undersecretary for home affairs, Florence Hui Hiu-fai.

"The government would consider ways to support the operation of the theatre through seeking sponsorship and appropriate subsidy schemes," the Home Affairs Bureau said.

The theatre, a centre for Cantonese opera productions, faces closure because of decreasing audiences and the likelihood of a rent rise after the current lease expires on January 31. If it closes, the last performances would be held during the Lunar New Year.

The theatre pays HK$200,000 a month in rent, while rents for nearby buildings and shopping complexes are much higher. The rate expected under a new lease was in the region of HK$400,000, Mr Kam said.

The plan would hinge entirely on the government and the property owner reaching an agreement. "If the rent is too high, the government will be unable to justify the proposed subsidy to taxpayers," Mr Kam said.

Even if the negotiations over rent failed, it would not spell the end of large-scale Cantonese opera productions. Mr Kam outlined some possible alternatives, including relocating many productions to Sha Tin and Tuen Mun town halls through "venue partnership schemes", as well as granting opera productions priority venue hiring in four other public arenas - the Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Hong Kong City Hall, Kwai Tsing Theatre and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

The government is also considering projects to increase the number of opera venues available. These include the HK$171 million conversion of the Yau Ma Tei Theatre and Red Brick Building into a cultural activity centre, and the construction of additional venues at the Ko Shan Theatre and in the Xiqu Centre of the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Mr Kam welcomed the ongoing consultation between the government and the theatre's landlord and he encouraged opera companies to take advantage of the alternate venues to hold productions.

"We cannot rely only on these solutions," said Mr Kam, noting that the Yau Ma Tei project was not scheduled to be completed until 2011. "The current plan is too piecemeal and it only concerns itself with the short-term future of the opera industry."
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 07:29 PM   #166
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Arts boss foreshadows Sunbeam Theatre deal
1 January 2009
South China Morning Post

A deal is expected to be struck this month between the government and the owners of the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point in a plan to keep the popular Cantonese Opera venue open until an alternative is available.

The venue had faced closure because of a drastic increase in rent but the government now plans to increase subsidies to the opera groups using the theatre while negotiating a rent they can afford.

Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai said the government could not use public money to subsidise the theatre's rent directly.

But with extra funding, the groups should be able to afford the new rent until the Xiqu Centre opens in the West Kowloon Cultural District in 2015.

The present rent is HK$200,000 a month but the landlord has been asking for HK$800,000 after the contract ends next month. A government source said earlier it estimated the market rent at HK$400,000.

Speaking at a media gathering yesterday Mrs Yau, who is involved in the negotiations, gave no details of the likely rent or planned subsidies. But she said she expected a deal to be struck with the landlord next month.

Closure of the Sunbeam Theatre next month would leave the groups without a suitable home before the West Kowloon theatre opened.

On the progress of developing the arts hub in West Kowloon, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Cathy Chu Man-ling said 67 candidates were vying for the post of executive director of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, including engineers and people from the arts sector.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 06:21 AM   #167
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North Kowloon Magistracy eyed as possible opera centre
Artists association unveils plan for Cantonese opera centre

6 January 2009
South China Morning Post

A key Cantonese opera society has unveiled a plan to convert a historic building into a training centre and museum dedicated to the local art.

But some opera veterans said the proposed centre would never be able to replace the Sunbeam Theatre, if the renowned North Point venue were to shut down next month after the Lunar New Year holiday. The theatre is at the centre of a rent debate.

The Chinese Artists Association said it had submitted an application to turn the North Kowloon Magistracy into a cultural centre for Cantonese opera under the Development Bureau's Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.

The building was among the seven historic structures listed in the first phase of the scheme.

The association's chairwoman, Lisa Wang Ming-chuen, said the group's application was among the final three of the 21 submitted for the North Kowloon Magistracy. The results will be announced next month.

She said meetings had been held with the vetting committee, which was most concerned about how the proposed centre would be operated and managed. She declined to speculate on the likelihood that the association's application would be accepted, but she said it was necessary that immediate steps be taken to preserve Cantonese opera.

"Hong Kong has a more original form of Cantonese opera than what is practised on the mainland. Its development is different and incomplete because of the Cultural Revolution," Ms Wang said.

The North Kowloon Magistracy would be the ideal venue for an opera centre as Sham Shui Po was slated to become a new cultural hub, she said.

The proposed centre would have six floors and include a traditional tea house where Cantonese opera songs would be performed, a museum, an archive of Cantonese opera materials, rehearsal studios, and offices.

The top floor of the building would be transformed into a dormitory available for visiting Cantonese opera troupes or tourists. Parts of the historic building, including two former holding cells and one of the four court rooms, would be preserved.

Ms Wang said the government would provide HK$150 million to pay for renovations and HK$5 million for the first three years of operation.

"But we will still have to raise at least another HK$15 million in order to cover all the costs," she said.

Admission fees for the museum, expected to be HK$30 for adults, and rent from the dormitory, which would be HK$500 to HK$600 a night for a room for two people, would be the main sources of income, she said.

But association vice-chairman Yuen Siu-fai said the centre would not be able to replace the Sunbeam Theatre because of its history and location. He said the landlord was less concerned about raising the rent than the apparent lack of a plan for development of Cantonese opera.

The Home Affairs Bureau said Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing had met with the landlord and the operator of the Sunbeam Theatre last month and that the bureau hoped negotiations for a lease extension could be continued.

The lease is up at the end of this month but the landlord agreed to extend it until after the Lunar New Year. The bureau said it could consider adopting a different funding plan.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 05:51 AM   #168
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Restorers of damaged historic mansion find tiles that are almost a perfect match
5 January 2009
South China Morning Post

A makeover on the historic Mid-Levels mansion King Yin Lei on Stubbs Road began last week after a restoration expert procured tiles from a factory in Foshan similar to those torn off the building.

Experts said the new tiles were about a 90 per cent match to the originals but were darker in colour.

Government sources said all required building materials could be reproduced eventually.

"The new tiles are close to the original look, but not exactly the same," said Tang Guohua of Guangzhou University's school of architecture and urban planning. "The colour is darker because factories no longer use firewood to fire tile kilns."

Professor Tang said tile-kiln temperatures were now higher because of the fuels used to fire them, resulting in darker-coloured tiles that were more durable.

He monitored restoration work on the building on Thursday and issued instructions to workers installing the tiles on the roof after the first batch of reproduced tiles arrived from Foshan.

The restoration would require 50,000 new tiles of various types, according to a Development Bureau spokeswoman.

Professor Tang said: "Such scale of reproduction must be done by a factory on a large scale. Foshan has only two [such factories]."

The spokeswoman said the Antiquities and Monuments Office believed that all building materials for the restoration could be produced, including timber, tiles, masonry and metal components.

Professor Tang said about 90 per cent of the information needed to carry out the restoration had been gathered but it did not necessarily mean the mansion could be fully restored to its original appearance.

"It all depends on the skills of the craftsmen," he said, adding that reconstruction of the roof was just the beginning.

"The most difficult task will be making the terrazzo," he said, referring to the designs created in marble chips on walkways, floors, patios and panels.

Professor Tang added: "We are considering asking retired craftsmen to show their master skills to younger ones."

A Mrs Lee, who has lived in the neighbourhood for more than 20 years, said: "It is good to see the mansion repaired but it can never look the same. It has been a favourite place for tourists. It's unbearable to see it falling apart."

The unidentified former owner of the iconic 1930s Chinese-style mansion began stripping the roof and decorative features in September 2007. The government, criticised for its late action, declared the building a monument last July and commissioned experts to restore it. The property is now owned by the government after it swapped another piece of land nearby for the mansion and its land.

The roof will be completed in the first quarter of this year. It will be followed by the facade. The interior should be completed by next year.
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 05:24 PM   #169
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Grocery store to close after eight decades of community service
21 January 2009
South China Morning Post

A grocery store that has operated in Central for more than 80 years but is closing this weekend has been commended for its contribution to the community.

Owner Kwan Moon-chiu said his dilapidated Wing Woo store at the intersection of Graham and Wellington streets had witnessed the growth and decline of grocery businesses in the city since the 1920s.

Mr Kwan, 76, said the grocery had been co-founded by his uncle and father and he had helped out at the store since he was 12.

He said he had slept at the store every night for about 20 years until he got married in 1959.

"I miss everything in the store and my regulars," he said.

Mr Kwan said his business had been at its prime when the mainland started to open up about 30 years ago. "Resources were scarce at that time. People would buy everything we sold."

But the business had declined since 1997 as supermarkets and chain grocery stores started to flourish.

When the Urban Renewal Authority asked him whether he wanted to rent the store for another year at HK$17,000 a month, Mr Kwan declined because he was hardly making a profit at the current rental of HK$10,000 a month.

The authority plans to redevelop Graham Street into Hong Kong's first "old shop street", featuring speciality shops.

Mr Kwan said all the tools and furniture at the store would be donated to the Hong Kong Museum of History for preservation.

The Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage, the Central and Western Concern Group and the SEE Network, a group dedicated to town-planning research and publication, awarded a certificate to Wing Woo yesterday in recognition of its contribution to the community.

Lee Kwong-lam, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Provisions, Wine and Spirit Dealers' Association, also congratulated Mr Kwan, an old friend, on his success over so many years.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 06:30 PM   #170
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Sunbeam all set for new lease of life
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, February 05, 2009

The landlord of the Sunbeam Theatre, the only dedicated venue for Cantonese opera in Hong Kong, has agreed to extend the lease at HK$699,000 a month rent until 2012, according to a source.

After weeks of talks between the Home Affairs Bureau and landlord Yu Tai Hing, the landlord agreed to lower by about 12.5 percent the rent it had originally sought. Yu Tai Hing had wanted a 300 percent increase to HK$800,000 a month from the current HK$200,000.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen watched a Cantonese opera on Tuesday evening at the North Point venue.

A government source said the administration will not directly subsidize the rent. He said the Sunbeam operator is expected to raise charges for Chinese opera groups, for which the administration has been providing financial support. He expected the groups may need more funding in the future, and the government hopes to help by seeking more sponsors for Cantonese opera groups.


But he said criticisms by lawmakers and opera groups indirectly enhanced the bargaining power of the landlord instead. "It may not be easy for the landlord to find a tenant these days, and it will also cost him quite a lot if he were to renovate the building," the source said. However, a property agent said it is a win-win deal for Sunbeam and the landlord, as he believed HK$699,000 is a bit lower than the market price.

Yu Tai Hing bought the 80,000-square-foot property in 2003 for HK$162 million, aiming to transform it into a shopping mall.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 05:02 AM   #171
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中區警署古蹟群倡限高
07/02/2009

中區警署古蹟群新發展計劃受爭議,13個關注團體及民間組織聯合向城規會提申請,建議在項目加入77米(主水平基準.下同)的高度限制,以避免古蹟與新建築高度及比例不協調;另新地修訂元朗錦田下高埔村住宅發展,主要是增建7幢洋房至48幢,並大減單位平均面積逾24%至1,031方呎,單位量因而大增 200個至830個。

13個團體及組織包括中西區關注組、環保觸覺及創建香港等,認為馬會的新發展方案違反古物古蹟辦事處,指明要保存古蹟原有布局完整性的規範,馬會雖曾指會降低新建築物高度,但卻未有透露減幅,及堅持興建劇院等文化設施,故該批團體申請在大綱圖說明書,加入上層平台新建築物高度不可逾77米及保留F倉的建議。

福全街申建27層酒店
錦田項目將建48幢3層高洋房及25幢6至23層高中、低密度住宅,平均單位面積由1,358方呎減至1,031方呎。

另有兩項酒店申請,裕泰興的大角咀福全街31號,申請重建1幢27層高酒店,提供198個房間;盈信控股的旺角通菜街123、125及127號,擬重建1幢17層高酒店,提供50個房間。

地政總署修訂勾地表3幅九龍灣及觀塘商貿地的出售章程,該批地建酒店須獲規劃許可,因有關許可已獲續期至二○一三年而作修訂。
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Old February 11th, 2009, 04:48 PM   #172
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NGOs want 77m height limit on Central Police Station project
10 February 2009
South China Morning Post

An alliance of 13 NGOs has applied to the Town Planning Board for a 77-metre height restriction on the Central Police Station site.

The limit, if adopted, would mean the Jockey Club, which has undertaken to conserve the site, would have to almost halve the height of the controversial 150-metre structure it proposed in 2007.

The alliance, formed by green groups and heritage concern groups, said its proposal was based on a decision by the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) in 2004 and on a Jockey Club architect's suggestion to respect the "open character" of the prison courtyard.

The alliance explained its proposal at a press conference yesterday.

"If the AMO considered 77 metres to be the maximum height for commercial development, it should be even more so for any development revitalised with heritage conservation first in mind," Heritage Hong Kong convenor Maggie Brooke said.

The Development Bureau said the alliance's application was "unnecessary" and a height limit would curtail design flexibility. It said the 2004 decision was made in the context of a commercial tender for redevelopment of the site, but now the Jockey Club was to conserve it on a non-profit-making basis.

Paul Zimmerman of Designing Hong Kong rejected this explanation and accused the government of double standards. He urged the public to hand in supporting comments to the Town Planning Board before February 27.

Central and Western district councillor Cheng Lai-king said she would ask the district council to support the application. Last year the Jockey Club bowed to public pressure and scrapped its plan for a 150-metre-high observation deck. It promised to reduce the height and bulk of the new structure after a six-month public consultation.

The club said yesterday its architects had only just begun to review the compound design. "As we are still in the early stages of concept design, we believe any allegation of insincere consideration of public views is unfounded," it said.

Bernard Lim Wan-fung, a member of the Antiquities Advisory Board and the Town Planning Board, said: "An arbitrary height limit would limit design flexibility, but the Jockey Club must remain sensitive to the community's concern."

He said the government should not rely solely on the Town Planning Board for design approval, as the board was not responsible for looking at a project's conservation merits.
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Old February 18th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #173
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From news.gov.hk:
Historic building revitalisation projects selected
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Old February 19th, 2009, 05:55 PM   #174
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舊大埔警署撥第二批
18/02/2009
東方日報



【 本 報 訊 】 發 展 局 昨 公 布 第 二 批 活 化 歷 史 建 築 伙 伴 計 劃 名 單 , 當 中 包 括 首 批 未 有 批出 的 舊 大 埔 警 署 , 活 化 歷 史 建 築 諮 詢 委 員 會 指 廿 三 份 申 請 書 均 未 達 標 , 未 能 善 用 該面 積 達 六 千 五 百 平 方 米 , 且 環 境 優 美 的 地 方 , 財 務 計 劃 亦 不 可 行 。

下 期 包 括 藍 屋
舊 大 埔 警 署 共 有 廿 三 份 申 請 , 大 部 分 建 議 用 作 營 舍 、 舉 辦 課 程 、 活 動 或 展 覽 、 辦 事處 用 途 , 只 有 一 個 申 請 入 選 第 二 輪 甄 選 , 但 最 終 都 落 敗 。 第 二 批 活 化 歷 史 建 築 伙 伴計 劃 還 包 括 灣 仔 藍 屋 建 築 群 、 九 龍 城 石 屋 、 沙 田 王 屋 村 古 屋 和 前 粉 嶺 裁 判 法 院 。 發展 局 局 長 林 鄭 月 娥 說 , 雖 然 第 二 批 計 劃 要 到 年 中 保 育 條 例 完 成 後 始 正 式 發 出 邀 請 ,提 早 公 布 可 令 有 興 趣 的 機 構 早 些 開 始 構 思 。

灣 仔 藍 屋 建 築 群 已 交 由 房 屋協 會 收 購 業 權 , 並 以 留 屋 兼 留 人 的 形 式 活 化 , 即 住 客 可 以 選 擇 留 下 來 繼 續 居 住 。 九龍 城 石 屋 位 於 侯 王 廟 新 村 , 該 村 在 五 十 年 代 設 有 多 個 電 影 片 場 , 到 七 十 年 代 , 部 分石 屋 改 變 用 途 作 工 場 , 該 村 於 二 ○ ○ 一 年 清 拆 , 石 屋 為 僅 存 建 築 物 。

沙 田 王 屋 村 古 屋 是 村 內 僅 存 的 清 代 建 築 , 為 法 定 古 蹟 , 位 於 圓 洲 角 公 園 內 。 前 粉 嶺 裁 判 法 院 建 於 一 九 六 ○ 年 , 展 現 新 古 典 建 築 風 格 。
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Old February 21st, 2009, 06:29 PM   #175
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爭北九法院八和不敵洋人政府撐粵劇齌(口翕)
汪明荃 認戇居好想喊

18/02/2009





首批活化歷史建築伙伴計劃結果揭盅,最具爭議的北九龍裁判法院,由美國一藝術設計學院擊敗八和會館奪得,最終更掀起一場罵戰。八和會館主席汪明荃坦言感痛心,批評政府扶持粵劇發展「得個講字」,活化歷史建築諮詢委員會主席陳智思則暗寸八和會館,「好多人申請只想有個地方用,而非保育歷史建築物。」

北九龍裁判法院共有二十二份申請,到第二輪甄選為三強之爭,最終由港人較陌生的美國薩凡納藝術設計學院脫穎而出。陳智思說:「我們並非隔山買牛,當局派了兩位同事到美國睇睇,薩凡納好多幢校舍都係歷史建築物,保育得好好,其數碼設計課程亦符合香港發展創意工業的定位。」

不排除上街作抗爭
陳智思稱不評論落選機構,但指很多申請人只想有個地方用來提供服務,出發點並非保育歷史建築物。薩凡納不用政府資助改裝北九,陳否認財雄勢大有優勢,指薩凡納各方面評分都很高。失落的汪明荃則稱,收到消息後想喊,她炮轟政府講一套做一套,口口聲聲扶持粵劇發展,但「得個講字」。她指粵劇界有迫切性開設訓練中心,不明當局何以將北九交予美國藝術學校,「點解政府將香港市民砼公帑去支持外國藝術學校?」

汪說,去年聖誕節已聽聞政府內定結果,她要求委員會公開評審準則,她又說,八和會館花了五十萬元做報告,政府曾揚言八和進入三強,如今又批評八和欠缺管治經驗及財力,令她有感「畀人擺上罎做政府花瓶」之嫌,慨嘆只是八和「戇居」。她不認為八和未有注重保育,反指委員會無細心閱讀,八和不排除上街抗爭。

舊大澳警署變酒店

舊大澳警署則由信和集團旗下的香港歷史文物保育建設有限公司活化為四星級精品酒店。陳智思表示歡迎商界以非牟利形式活化歷史建築物,但委員會也擔心被指官商勾結。香港歷史文物保育建設有限公司執行董事黃永光說,酒店房價錢參考亞洲區的精品酒店,雙人房每晚一千五百元,而天台餐廳會以大澳的鹹魚、鹹蛋和蝦醬炮製東南亞美食。

發展局局長林鄭月娥說,政府撥款四億九千萬元資助五座歷史建築物復修,及以一千一百萬元資助其中四個社會企業營運,這個計劃可提供一千個建築職位,到運作階段則會有五百多個全職及兼職職位。
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Old February 24th, 2009, 10:50 AM   #176
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Nurses' quarters saved from the wrecking ball
Hospital block passes heritage test

16 February 2009
South China Morning Post

The 72-year-old nurses' quarters at Queen Mary Hospital have been saved from demolition after an assessment confirmed the building's heritage value.

A Hospital Authority source said the hospital had been told about the preliminary findings of the heritage assessment and was preparing conservation plans. The 1,400-bed hospital had wanted to knock down the nurses' quarters and build a trauma and cardiac centre on the site.

But the plan faced opposition from some hospital staff who said the building had historical value.

Last year the authority commissioned the Architectural Services Department to conduct a site investigation and the department hired a consultant to conduct a heritage assessment of the building. The work cost about HK$14 million.

The nursing quarters opened in December 1936, four months before the hospital's official opening. It has been used as overnight accommodation for female medical staff since the nursing school closed in 2001.

"We have been told that the quarters cannot be demolished. We have to find a new site to build the cardiac centre," the authority source said.

The source said conservation of the building would increase the burden on the hospital's budget.

"As it is the decision of the assessment and is what society wants, we accept this and we are now preparing plans on how to put the building to good use," the source said.

One possibility was to turn the building into offices but details had yet to be worked out.

The source said the hospital was looking for other sites for redevelopment but the choice was limited.

A Development Bureau spokesman said the "overall heritage value of QMH nursing quarters is still being assessed by relevant departments".

Former medical legislator Kwok Ka-ki, who has been advocating for conservation of the building, said he was glad to hear the news.

"It is a good news for everyone. Queen Mary Hospital and the nursing quarters are a living testimony of medical development in Hong Kong since the '30s. The building should be opened to the public," he said.

Dr Kwok suggested the authority recruit retired nurses to lead heritage tours for the public.

"Some of the space of the nursing quarters can hold exhibitions on medical history. It can also inspire more people to join the nursing profession," he said.

The building, constructed in 1936, is a derivative of the neoclassical style known as stripped classicism, which was favoured by the Nazis.

The old Wan Chai Police Station, built in 1932, is of the same style.
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Old February 26th, 2009, 08:07 AM   #177
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Minister vows support for Cantonese opera amid row
22 February 2009
South China Morning Post

The government has defended its support for Cantonese opera in the wake of criticism of its decision to award tenancy of the North Kowloon Magistracy historical building to an American school rather than an organisation dedicated to preserving the traditional art form.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said the government was aiming to raise a monthly rental subsidy of up to HK$200,000 for the Sunbeam Theatre, a popular venue for Cantonese opera in North Point.

The landlord recently extended the lease for another three years but at a much higher rent.

He said that the Development Bureau had supported the Chinese Artists Association's application to turn the historic North Kowloon Magistracy into a Cantonese opera centre under the bureau's revitalising historic buildings through partnership scheme.

He also praised the work of association chairwoman Liza Wang Ming-chuen who accused the government of failing to support local arts and culture by handing the historic building to Savannah College of Art and Design, which is based in Georgia, in the United States.

"The North Kowloon Magistracy was a heritage conservation project and the scheme had its own set of standards," Mr Tsang said.

"I know that Liza did a lot of hard work for the project and she did a lot of lobbying, so it was understandable how disappointing the result was for her."

He insisted that awarding North Kowloon Magistracy to the college "did not mean that the government does not support Cantonese opera".

He said the government had been funding Cantonese opera to the tune of HK$33 million a year, including money for performances and training. The monthly rent of Sunbeam Theatre had increased from HK$208,000 to HK$698,000 under the new lease.

Mr Tsang said that the government would subsidise the theatre by HK$100,000 each month through the Arts Development Council. He said that the government would also actively seek public sponsorship for the theatre and he hoped that together with the funding from the Arts Development Council, the monthly subsidy for the theatre could reach more than HK$200,000.

Mr Tsang said Cantonese opera in Hong Kong remained commercially viable and insisted that the government had to be very careful about subsidising commercial operations.

Meanwhile, SCAD gained support from the US consulate and the vetting committee amid criticism over the college's alleged management problems.

Bernard Chan, chairman of the advisory committee on revitalisation of historic buildings, said he had received a recommendation from the consulate general of the United States praising the college's contribution to its host cities.

"The college was said to have contributed to the revitalisation of Savannah city, Georgia, showing it has a rich preservation background," he said.

The consulate's letter also said students who graduated from the college were heavily recruited by renowned film companies, including Dreamworks, Pixar and Lucasfilm.

Mr Chan also quoted an article published in The New York Times saying the college's preservation works had rejuvenated its host city.

"Savannah has benefited from a most unusual redevelopment tool - a private arts college that has invested US$30 million over two decades buying and repairing 52 downtown buildings for its own use," the article reads.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 04:36 AM   #178
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Study points to importance of Central's low-rise areas
2 March 2009
South China Morning Post

Developments above Hollywood Road, including the Central School site, should be low density to preserve the integrity of the last two low-rise districts in Central, an architectural study says.

The study, conducted by Chinese University, analysed Central's cityscape using aerial photos and identified small districts that were worthy of preservation.

"The two groups of post-war buildings in Tai Ping Shan Street and Graham Street are the last two low-rise areas to be found in Central," said Woo Pui-leng, an associate professor of the university's department of architecture, referring to tenement buildings of four-to-six storeys built after the second world war.

"Instead of forcing people to walk inside huge structures, the two areas are still full of street life with small shops and neighbourhood activities," she said, adding that Yu Lok Lane and the Staunton Street neighbourhood would soon be replaced by high-rises in renewal projects.

The development approach to areas above Hollywood Road was critical because these areas, including the former Central School site, linked the two low-rise districts.

But recent redevelopments taking place between the two areas had destroyed the integrity of the low-rise cityscape.

"The high-rises that have recently popped up have blocked the visual corridor between the two areas and people can hardly walk from Tai Ping Shan Street to Graham Street now," Dr Woo said.

She said Wing Lee Street - part of the Staunton Street redevelopment project - was the main passage through the two low-rise areas, and urged the Urban Renewal Authority to improve the connection and urban design of the project.

"Post-war tenement buildings of human scale are an endangered species in the process of extinction," said adjunct associate professor Yuet Tsang-chi, who also participated in the research, adding that they were integrated places for life and work.

An exhibition illustrating the transformation of Central is now open at the Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage and features models of the two low-rise areas.
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Old March 16th, 2009, 04:26 PM   #179
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通識路路通:活化歷史建築 創造旅遊景點
4 March 2009
文匯報

陳志華 香港通識教育會

日前,政府公布首批活化歷史建築物的甄選結果。在114個申請中,以雷生春獲最多團體申請,共有30分。結果,舊大澳警署將活化為精品酒店,芳園書室將活化為旅遊及教育中心,荔枝角醫院將活化為推廣中華文化及國民教育中心,雷生春將活化為中醫藥保健中心,北九龍裁判法院就變身成藝術設計學院,美荷樓將活化成青年旅舍。發展局局長林鄭月娥指出,所有獲選計劃都能達致活化計劃的兩個目標,既可保育歷史建築,亦可創造多領域的社會效益。大家可從多角度去分析,作深入探究。

好處:不少古蹟殘舊 活化發揮作用

不少古蹟已十分殘舊,更停止使用多年。以荔枝角醫院為例,已停用多年。無論市民大眾或外地旅客也沒有機會進入這些建築物內,深入認識這些建築物的歷史價值。大家只可以在外觀察。這些屬於本土的歷史建築文物,應由大家分享。將來,經過活化後,大家可以有機會使用或參觀這些建築物。這些古蹟更得到保育,不致被風雨侵蝕,最終倒塌。建築物是人所建,獲得人使用,才能發揮其作用。若不活化,最終只會被遺忘及消失。

重溫昔日情懷

另外,每一個地方也有其本身的歷史文化,香港也不例外。香港的發展一日千里,不少珍貴的古舊建築也因發展而被迫拆卸。這些舊建築正是這個地方歷史的重要組成部分。近年,香港發展以經濟主導,歷史建築往往被犧牲掉。從天星碼頭及皇后碼頭兩次的抗爭事件,便可得知香港市民也關心歷史文化。活化舊建築正滿足市民的期望。大家可以使用或參觀這些舊建築,除了可以重溫昔日情懷,更明白香港的歷史。

助紓緩就業不足

經濟發展方面,在金融海嘯下,本港經濟情況難免大受影響。不少市民也面對失業、減薪的困擾。活化舊建築正好提供就業,改善經濟。活化一座建築物,首先需要建築或維修的專才協助,完成維修後,再配合建築物的新功能,又需要另一些人才。如雷生春改建為中醫藥保健中心,北九龍裁判法院就改建為藝術設計學院等,有關機構便會聘請中醫或藝術人才,有助紓緩就業不足的情況。

建築物混合中西之美

此外,香港是一個國際旅遊城市。不少旅客來港參觀遊玩,消閒購物。除新穎建築吸引外,歷史建築因有本地特色,成為另類賣點。香港是一個中西文化匯集的地方,不少建築也有這種特色。如荔枝角醫院表面是一座西式建築物,紅磚為外牆,屋頂卻是罕有的中式兩層瓦頂設計。這座建築物原是一座監獄,後在1938年改建為傳染病醫院及療養院。遊客參觀時,發覺本地的建築物混合了中西文化之美,既有西方的優雅,亦有東方的古典。活化這些建築,有助遊客認識過去香港的發展路。

有助發展藝術文化

由文化發展的角度看,不少文化團體表示缺乏地方發展,也有不少藝術團體使用土瓜灣牛棚藝術村,作為推廣藝術之用。原址前身是牛隻的中央屠宰中心,後改建成為藝術村。以「藝術公社」為例,它本身是一個民間藝術組織,在1997年7月成立。「公社」最初在石塘咀長發工業大廈設置工作室,後不斷遷徙,由北角油街藝術村到長沙灣屠房,最後遷至土瓜灣牛棚藝術村。由此可見,不少文化藝術團體實在缺乏空間發展創作及發展。活化建築有助發展藝術文化。

有助改善政府形象

對政府來說,活化舊建築物也是利多弊少。雖然不少舊建築物位於市區黃金地段,若拆卸後重建,庫房收益更大。不少舊建築已列入保護文物或評級建築名單中,政府不可拆卸,卻需要付出資源,作定期維修及保養。經過活化計劃,部分工作可由其他機構或團體負責,政府的負擔得以減輕。市民大眾的保育意識日益提高。活化建築有助改善政府形象,提高民望。

爭議:粵劇團體申請落選引發批評

不過,這次甄選結果卻引發爭議,古蹟活化計劃公布後,引起一些團體反對。其中以八和會館的反對最為激烈。八和會館會長汪明荃指出,該館曾申請北九龍裁判法院為粵劇學校,最後落選。她感到十分失望,直斥這座美好的建築物竟批給外國機構薩凡納藝術設計學院基金(香港)有限公司,令她懷疑政府扶持粵劇的決心。由此可見,這個計劃引發本地文化藝術團體和外來藝術團體之爭。政府處於其中,應如何處理?

結語:取得共識找到發展方向很重要

香港是國際大都會,要不斷發展,才有競爭力,但發展之餘,舊有建築如何處理?如何取得平衡是十分重要的。大家不應只貪新忘舊,但懷舊欠創新也不可。政府、市民大眾、富豪財團、文化機構等如何取得共識,找出一個適合香港的發展方向,對市民大眾都有好處。
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Old March 18th, 2009, 05:53 PM   #180
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Controversial Repulse Bay hotel plan dropped
18 March 2009
South China Morning Post

The government has abandoned plans to turn the Seaview Building in Repulse Bay into a hotel development and will revitalise the building, the Planning Department says in a paper to be discussed by the Town Planning Board on Friday.

The original plan - rezoning the vacant, 60-year-old building as a comprehensive development area comprising a hotel, barbecue spots and restaurants - encountered strong public opposition, with the board receiving more than 900 objections during the public consultation period, including those of the Southern District Council.

Opponents feared that the beach could be privatised by the hotel development and that traffic congestion would get worse.

The Planning Department says the government will not pursue the land disposal plan and will explore ways to reuse the Seaview Building.

The Transport Department has also agreed to study the possibility of converting part of the public car park along Beach Road into a drop-off area for coaches to ease traffic congestion.

But the study will start only after the opening of a new commercial complex on the former Lido site. The site, next to the Seaview Building, used to be a low-rise commercial area for bars and boutiques. It was later redeveloped by the Emperor Group but it has remained a construction site for the past eight years.

Paul Zimmerman, a co-founder of concern group Designing Hong Kong, welcomed the government's change of plan but urged it to draw up a holistic plan for Repulse Bay.

"I am disappointed the government has not identified a body to resolve all relevant issues in Repulse Bay." He added the Lido site redevelopment should be expedited.

"The traffic on Beach Road is intolerable. It affects our quality of living," he said, referring to the disturbances caused by idling coaches and double parking along the road.

The Planning Department said some proposals to revitalise Repulse Bay- including the possibility of offering a longer lease term for the Seaview Building and upgrading adjoining public buildings managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department - fell outside the board's purview and had been referred to government departments.

Southern District Council member Ronald Chan Ngok-pang said he hoped the board would accept the Planning Department's advice and reject the hotel plan.

He said at least three companies had expressed interest in running the building and turning it into a beach club and dining facilities.
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