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Old March 31st, 2012, 04:41 PM   #41
hkskyline
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Soho 189 by fatshe on 3/31 :

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Old January 11th, 2014, 03:44 PM   #42
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The west is history
Kennedy Town's rapid gentrification is being spurred by construction of the West Island Line, and there are concerns that the area's overhaul will sacrifice character for commerce
6 January 2014
South China Morning Post



An old monument tucked behind the public toilet on Sai Ning Street is a discreet reminder of Kennedy Town's insalubrious past. The 103-year-old archway and foundation stone of the Tung Wah Smallpox Hospital are among the few remnants of a collection of uninviting establishments that have occupied the area.

For a long time, the western end of Hong Kong island was the end of the road. Today, the Kennedy Town abattoir is gone and the Victoria public mortuary is set to be relocated. The macabre no longer has a place in the historic district as it undergoes gentrification.

The West Island Line, scheduled to open later this year, has been the main impetus for change. Better transport links will make Kennedy Town, the line's terminus, a viable home for many.

Private developers have been replacing old tenement buildings with luxury apartment blocks since the line was first tabled in the early 2000s. With characteristic audacity, they are now selling flats in Kennedy Town at Mid-Levels prices. Many restaurateurs have also arrived to cater to new, moneyed residents.

But Kennedy Town retains the essence of a down-to-earth, working-class neighbourhood. Its residents still include technicians from the Whitty Street Tram Depot, where shifts often start before dawn. The China Merchants Group (CMG) continues to use its godowns, and kaito services ply the waters between the Western District Public Cargo Working Area and outlying islands.

A more comprehensive makeover is looming. A land use review by the government's Planning Department says existing industrial buildings and godowns are "incompatible" with what is now a largely residential neighbourhood.

Talks are under way to change the zoning of the CMG godowns and wharf from industrial to commercial, leisure and tourism-related uses. The department has also earmarked the former Mount Davis Cottage Area, a shanty town established by mainland refugees, the Married Police Officers Quarters, and the former abattoir among the areas for residential use.

Edmond Wong, a senior social worker at the Caritas Community Centre on Pokfield Road, is pleased that much of the land will be used for public housing.

"Many tenement buildings have been bought out by private developers. The owners may get compensation, but their tenants in partitioned flats have nowhere to go.

"Many are unwilling to leave the area because of work and education. They are now paying up to HK$5,000 a month for a tiny room in the few remaining tenement buildings left. Their only hope is to get into the public housing system."

The government has also promised to turn over more of the waterfront to the public. It is ready to release four piers at the Western Wholesale Food Market for public use, and the Central and Western District Council plans to build a promenade with funds from the HK$100-million Signature Project Scheme.

Open space is scarce in urban Hong Kong, and Kennedy Town's enviable waterfront means it has the potential to become a major nightlife destination.

On the New Praya, Ben Ho is overseeing preparations for another restaurant. The Hong Kong operational manager for Singapore's Les Amis Group of restaurants runs Piccolo Pizzeria & Bar and Bistro Du Vin in Davis Street. Ho is also helping another Singaporean investor develop the Fish & Chick restaurant.

"This market has a lot of scope to grow. There is street parking available, and the MTR will bring a lot more non-residents here in the evenings and at weekends," Ho says.

"You also tend to find much bigger shop spaces here than in SoHo. But the biggest draw has got to be the best sunset in Hong Kong," he says, gesturing towards the waterfront.

That expanse of water, with views of Green Island, almost disappeared in a since-abandoned reclamation plan in the 1990s. It prompted a team of academics to demand better public access to what is now prime waterfront.

In August, the University of Hong Kong's department of urban planning and design published a bold proposal for the area's development, commissioned by the Central and Western District Council.

The proposal suggests the government goes much further with its harbourfront plans and build a 2,400-metre-long promenade that stretches to the Central Government Offices in Tamar. Wong, who organises residents' concern groups in the area, says it is a utopian scheme that is unlikely to be carried out without compromises.

The plan requires moving the Western Wholesale Food Market, the Western District Public Cargo Working Area and the Kennedy Town bus terminus. The government has already indicated that the cargo area is too important to be removed. Locals also fear that the redevelopment is part of a broader gentrification of Kennedy Town that will inevitably bring the demise of well-known businesses.

Raymond Lai, a logistics worker, regularly visits the four-decades-old Cheung Heung Yuen Restaurant in Belcher's Street - an old-fashioned cha chaan teng justifiably famous for its silk stocking milk tea and egg tarts.

"I have lived here almost all my life. I moved here as a child with my parents and now I am a parent. It makes me feel very sad to see the old shops and restaurants disappear. This place is one of the last ones left," he says.

But the new outlets make a pleasant change to the pandemonium in the city centre, for those who can afford them.

"I like to come here for lunch. Kennedy Town is so much more pleasant than Central and it is within walking distance of my home," says David Bryan, a lawyer who lives in Pok Fu Lam.K-Town, his choice of restaurant, has a high ceiling and is practically cavernous by Hong Kong standards.

As for the lonely monument behind the public lavatories, the government wants to move it to a more respectable location by the sea. That, at least, is one piece of history that will have its day in the sun against a backdrop of ceaseless change.
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Old January 3rd, 2015, 07:18 PM   #43
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Kennedy Town MTR station opens but not everyone is happy with the pace of change
29 December 2014
South China Morning Post Excerpt



This morning, Kennedy Town commuters will troop onto the MTR's new West Island Line, ready to enjoy a smooth, seamless ride to their offices in the city. But long before that maiden journey, the city had already arrived in their corner of the island, in the form of ubiquitous shops and restaurants.

New residents, as well as restaurants, have been lured to the area, attracted by the prospect of the HK$18.5 billion MTR project. In the process, long-term locals have been left with mixed feelings at the pace of change.

With new homes and new businesses, rents have risen, squeezing out those unable to catch up and modernise. In 2011, the biggest casualty was the traditional Sun Chung Wah (or "New China") dim sum restaurant that had been in Kennedy Town for 60 years. It was dubbed one of the "three treasures" by locals in Western district. The other two "treasures" are a traditional tea cafe or cha chaan teng, Cheung Heung Yuen, and a congee restaurant, Cheuk Kee.

Cheung Heung Yuen, which opened in 1967 just opposite the now closed Sun Chung Wah on Belcher's Street, is famous for its egg tarts, cocktail and pineapple buns and milk tea.

Sixty-nine-year-old owner Chow Sek-fung recalled that when he took over the business in 1978, the Western district was a bustling hive of activity. Kennedy Town represented island life in the raw - vegetable and poultry wholesale markets, slaughterhouses with associated smells making their way into neighbouring streets, gritty factories responsible for everything from sweaters to sharks' fins, and seedy bars and brothels.

With development, many of these establishments have been relocated, along with the poorer inhabitants of the area - a number of whom have ended up in public housing in the New Territories. As a result, the working-class neighbourhood - which got its name from Hong Kong's seventh British governor Arthur Edward Kennedy, who served from 1872 to 1877 and reclaimed the strip of land along the harbour - has shrunk.

The long-awaited rail line is expected to revitalise the old district of Kennedy Town, which had 47,000 inhabitants as of 2011. And although it brought good business to his restaurant yesterday, Chow is not holding his breath. He believes the newcomers have different tastes.

"[The new rail line] is only powering developers to buy out old buildings [for redevelopment] … Only those who are well off will move in as they can afford the home prices," he said. "I think only one in 10 [of them] comes to the restaurant. It's usually the old residents who have been living in the community for a long time who come here."

Chow is not far off the mark, according to Elaine Fang, an assistant manager of property agent Midland Realty for Western district. She said people had been moving to the area since 2010 because of the MTR, and about a third of those were expatriates.

"It has become a middle-class community," she said, suggesting that their consumption habits were vastly different from those of long-term locals and older residents.

This gentrification is most evident on Hau Wo Street and the waterfront of New Praya, where trendy bars, hipster coffee shops, Italian restaurants and sushi places have taken the place of garages and grocery shops in the past decade.

The people who like to patronise such establishments are also those buying the newer, more expensive homes. Fang said this year alone home prices in the district had increased by some 5 to 10 per cent. A square foot at high-rise development The Belcher's now costs an average of HK$20,000. The price was HK$18,000 at the start of the year.

She expected home prices in the district would remain stable.

Fang said shop rentals had also gone up but were now moderating slightly as businesses found it difficult to cope with the heftier rents. "Landlords are less aggressive in increasing the rent now," she said.

Chow said he was fortunate as his landlord had been kind enough not to raise his rent drastically over the years. He said he was now paying HK$60,000 a month - up from HK$6,000 a month 36 years ago.

Like Chow, shopowner Ng Kai-ming is less troubled by rent than by thinning traffic. His stationery store, Knowledge Book Centre, opened in 1977 and moved to the quieter Catchick Street in 1996.

"Western district may be good for living, but will the MTR bring more people here? This is a big question," he said. "Many people tell me your takings must be quite good because you are the only store in the district. But I can tell you, it's still not as good as when there were seven or eight competitors in the district."

Ng's shop opens almost 365 days a year but he is struggling because the new arrivals prefer to shop at the malls rather than in an old shop. "It's a small business, and it really relies on customers from the local community. Many of them have now left [because of the redevelopment], so would it not affect our business?" he asked as he helped customers with their photocopying.
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Old December 14th, 2016, 12:09 PM   #44
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Rejuvenated Western District welcomes influx of families and entrepreneurs
Western District is latest district to profit from MTR expansion with new developments, trendy restaurants and shopping malls
December 9, 2016


DSC_7296 by Hongkonger's Collection, on Flickr

The MTR can dramatically improve lives. The railway system has transformed parts of the New Territories into vibrant new towns. After the opening of the West Rail, Kam Tin and Tuen Mun have had a facelift, with developers racing to build new homes to serve an expanding population.

Now it’s the turn of Western District to undergo change, thanks to the extension of the MTR’s Island Line into Kennedy Town.

The result is evident with the surrounding areas booming with new developments, trendy restaurants and shopping malls.

The area has become a magnet for a more diverse community of expats and local families. In addition, a growing group of entrepreneurs are making the Western District their home thanks to its proximity to Central, availability of affordable rental options relative to the expensive Mid-Levels area, and access to flexible co-working spaces.

In the year to November, the area has seen the completion and handover of at least six residential projects including Imperial Kennedy (161 units), The Hudson (134 units), One South Lane (92 units), The Nova (255 units), Eivissa Crest (106 units) and Park Crest (48 units), according to Buildings Department records.

Early next year, New World Development is set to market another residential project, Artisan House, off-plan. The arts-themed project will comprise 250 units configured as studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, a company spokeswoman says.

Located at 1 Sai Yuen Lane, Artisan House is close to the Sai Ying Pun MTR station. Estate agents say the layout mix will attract buy-to-let investors thanks to its convenient location and amenities. Artisan House will be marketed as part of The Artisanal Bohemian Collection, which includes Eight South Lane in Kennedy Town and Bohemian House in Sai Ying Pun. The developer says more than 80 per cent of the Eight South Lane units are owned by investors as rental properties.

In high-density urban areas such as Western District, land for housing development has to be where old buildings are demolished.

More : http://www.scmp.com/special-reports/...stern-district
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Old July 29th, 2017, 04:46 AM   #45
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Some of Hong Kong’s famous dried seafood vendors face uncertain future under HK$1.3 billion redevelopment plan
Demolition of dilapidated buildings in Sai Ying Pun to open up more public space will affect decades-old businesses
July 28, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt





A cluster of dilapidated buildings in Sai Ying Pun is set to be torn down, opening up more public space for the community as part of the Urban Renewal Authority’s latest redevelopment project.

But the HK$1.3 billion plan will displace a number of dried seafood sellers who have done business in the neighbourhood for decades.

On the northwestern tip of Hong Kong Island, the 12,000 sq ft site is home to a group of low-rise buildings built between 1959 and 1978 near Des Voeux Road West – also known as “dried seafood street”.

Next to the site, a small public playground with a single swing, a slide and a few benches is surrounded by residential blocks and accessible only via small lanes.

The URA’s head of planning and design Wilfred Au Chun-ho said: “We have two purposes for this project: first, to improve living conditions; and second ... to enhance connectivity by widening the access to the playground.”

The project will affect 110 households and 13 ground-floor shops, most of which house dried seafood retailers.

By 2027, the new site will provide 165 new flats and about 4,000 sq ft of commercial and retail floor area, along with an additional 1,500 sq ft of open space.

The URA plans for the commercial buildings facing the playground to be only about one to two floors high, while lanes connected to the playground will be widened for improved access.

Sai Ying Pun, first settled by the British military, has been a low-key residential area made up of traditional shops and small back lanes. But, with the extension of the MTR line, the area has become increasingly gentrified, with bars and art galleries setting up shop.
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