URA launches $100m project for cultural and creative industries
The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announces today (Friday) a
$100 million project, the Mallory Street revitalisation project, to
help foster Hong Kong's development of cultural and creative
The project calls for the acquisition of two rows of 10 early twentieth century shop-houses in Mallory Street and Burrows Street, Wan Chai. Upon completion of the planning and acquisition procedures, the URA will refurbish some of the buildings and turn them into a haven for operators of cultural and creative industries.
The URA project is inspired by the Government's Policy Address in January which highlights the "the importance of rejuvenating old districts in cities to create a cultural atmosphere, thereby attracting talents, fostering cultural and creative industries and developing local community economy."
This is also a direct response to the Financial Secretary's pledge in his budget speech that "the government will make every effort to support and facilitate the development of our cultural and creative industries".
Announcing the project at a press conference today, URA Executive Director Andrew Lam said the Government's goal was very much in line with the URA's concept of revitalisation by refurbishing old buildings of special character, where practicable, for cultural and creative businesses.
"As a trial project, Mallory Street is our first attempt at this worthwhile cause," Mr. Lam said.
"On the one hand, we will be able to help improve the living standard of the residents there by means of compensation or rehousing. On the other hand, the site provides a rare opportunity for attracting creative talents to operate in an architectural setting with distinctive character," he said.
"The URA adopts a holistic approach of four Rs, namely Redevelopment, Rehabilitation, Revitalisation and pReservation in urban renewal and is implementing them step by step in Wan Chai," he added.
Occupying a site area of about 8,400 square feet, the project site currently has 10 four-storey shop-houses which are believed to be built in the 1920's. Some are in a very dilapidated condition without even basic sanitary facilities. The URA's initial plan is to retain and refurbish six of them, which are in a relatively better condition, to provide 20 or more partitioned units with a total floor area of 18,300 square feet. The remaining four buildings will be demolished to make way for a 3,400-square foot landscaped open space for public enjoyment.
Asked what industries would be selected for the project, Mr. Lam said: "We do not want to adopt any preconceived idea but would rather like to plan the project together with the local community and other interested parties. This is an unprecedented endeavour to us and we are open to any theme and variety of cultural and creative industries as long as they are sustainable and will enable the project to become self-supporting in day-to-day operation."
Mr. Lam said the URA would invite representatives of the URA Wan Chai District Advisory Committee and the Wan Chai District Council to form a special committee to take the project forward. The committee will conduct consultation with local residents, professionals, academics and other interested parties and will make recommendations on the theme and industry mix to the URA.
The URA gazettes the project for commencement of planning under section 23 of the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance today and will submit an application to the Town Planning Board shortly.
Within the next two months, a plan of the development scheme delineating the boundary of the project, together with a general description, will be put on display for public inspection at the Information Centre of the URA headquarters (10/F, Low Block, Grand Millennium Plaza, no. 181 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan), URA Neighbourhood Centre in Wan Chai (G/F, Yan Yee Court, 28 Wan Chai Road) and the Public Enquiry Service Centre of the Wan Chai District Office (G/F, No. 2, O'Brien Road).
Upon consent by the Town Planning Board and approval by the Chief Executive in Council, acquisition of four private property interests and rehousing or compensation for about 37 households at the project site will follow. Of the $100 million development cost, about $62 million is estimated for acquisition and rehousing. If all goes well, the URA hopes to complete the project by 2007.
A team of URA staff today conducts a freezing survey on site to ascertain the occupancy status of the premises and the number of affected households. A briefing session for the residents will be held next week to explain to them the planning application procedures and the URA's compensation policy.
An urban renewal social service team commissioned by the URA and staffed by professional social workers of the Methodist Centre will provide counselling and practical assistance that the residents may need. For enquiries, residents can either visit the URA's Wan Chai Neighbourhood Centre in person or call the URA's Hotline at 2588 2333.