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Property acquisition for Ma Tau Wai Road/Chun Tin Street project to start soon

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Tuesday) announced that offer letters would be issued to owners of the Ma Tau Wai Road/Chun Tin Street project the soonest possible, probably by the end of this month. Eligible owner-occupiers of domestic properties affected by the project would be offered $9,785 per square foot of saleable floor area.

Making the announcement at a media briefing this afternoon, the Chairman of the URA, Mr Barry Cheung, said the Home Purchase Allowance (HPA) rate for the project was endorsed by the Land, Rehousing and Compensation Committee of the Authority after careful deliberations.  Until now, it is the highest rate being offered by the URA for domestic owner-occupied properties in its projects in Kowloon upon commencement of property acquisition for the projects.

"We attach a great deal of importance to this project in view of its special circumstances.  We understand the sentiments of residents concerned after the building collapse incident and their desire to improve their living environment as soon as possible.  To help ease the anxieties of the residents, the Authority has adopted special measures when it announced the project in February 2010," said Mr Cheung.

While awaiting the green light to go ahead with the project, some 143 tenants and owners have so far been given assistance and moved out under these special measures, he added.

Mr Cheung said the statutory planning procedures for the project are unexpectedly long as some 54 objections and submissions have been received after the announcement of the project.

On 10 December 2010, the Secretary for Development gave authorisation to the URA to proceed with the above development project. However, in accordance with S28 (1) of the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (URAO), an objector to a development project who is aggrieved by a decision of the Secretary for Development may appeal to the secretary to the Appeal Board panel within 30 days. In the circumstances, the URA could not commence property acquisition until the Appeal Board has had the opportunity to consider the appeals submitted within the said period.

Mr Cheung noted that while waiting for the deliberations of the Appeal Board, the Authority has wasted no time in getting prepared for property acquisition.  In about two weeks after the Government announced that the Appeal Board had considered the appeals unsubstantiated, the URA has activated its acquisition process to issue offer letters before the end of this month.  The project affects a total of 159 property interests.

The acquisition offers for domestic properties are based on the Government's Home Purchase Allowance (HPA) policy in which HPA is the difference between the market value of the acquired property and that of a notional seven-year-old flat of similar size in a similar locality.  In addition to the market value of the acquired properties, eligible owner-occupiers will receive the full HPA amount whereas eligible owners holding wholly tenanted or vacant domestic properties will receive a supplementary allowance (SA) up to half of the HPA.

Mr Cheung said: "In accordance with established mechanism, the URA has appointed seven independent valuation firms for the valuation of the unit rate of the notional seven-year-old flat. The whole process is virtually transparent, open and fair."

Owners will have ample time to consider the URA's offers and to accept them within 60 days after receiving the offers.  Domestic owners will also receive an incidental cost allowance (ICA) as an incentive for them to accept the offers within the 60-day period.  The current ICA for owner-occupied domestic property is $115,700. For domestic property that is wholly tenanted or vacant, the ICA is $90,500.

"The Flat-for-Flat (FFF) option recently announced by the URA is only applicable to projects that are commenced after the promulgation of the new Urban Renewal Strategy on 24 February this year.  After careful consideration, it is decided that the FFF arrangement should not be made applicable to the Ma Tau Wai Road project as in so doing, it would be unfair to other projects commenced before 24 February this year," said Mr Cheung.

However, eligible domestic owner-occupiers who wish to come back upon completion of the new development can purchase a new flat at market price under the Expression of Interest to Purchase Arrangement (EIPA).

Also attending the media briefing, the Managing Director of the URA, Mr Quinn Law, said: "For non-domestic properties, the acquisition offers to eligible owners will include an ex-gratia allowance on top of the market value.  The allowance for tenanted or vacant non-domestic property is 10 per cent of its market value or one time the government rateable value, whichever is higher.  The allowance for owner-occupied non-domestic property is 35 per cent of its market value or four times its rateable value, whichever is higher. The market value of each non-domestic property is based on the higher valuation of two independent valuation firms appointed by the URA."

Eligible owners and tenants who operate business in the affected shops will enjoy an additional Ex-gratia Business Allowance (EGBA) up to three times rateable value payable at the rate of 0.1 time rateable value for each year of continuous occupation of the premises up to a maximum of 30 years, subject to a minimum amount of $70,000 and a maximum of $500,000. This allowance is intended for alleviating the possible business loss due to redevelopment, he added.

"In accordance with our policy, landlords will not get any additional compensation for terminating the tenancies with their tenants since their eligibility to compensation is based on their tenanted status on the date of freezing survey," said Mr Law.

Upon completion of the property acquisition, the URA will make ex-gratia payment or rehousing arrangement for the tenants concerned, if eligible. The total acquisition and rehousing cost for the project is estimated at around $1,520 million.

The URA will organise a series of briefings for the affected owners, residents and shop operators to explain to them the acquisition and compensation and rehousing arrangements. An urban renewal social service team commissioned by the URA and staffed by professional social workers of The Salvation Army will provide counselling and practical assistance that the residents may need. The contact number of the social service team is 3188- 2104.  Affected residents can also visit the URA's Ma Tau Wai Neighbourhood Centre, Shop A, Ground Floor, 426-430 Ma Tau Wai Road, Kowloon in person or call the URA's Hotline at 2588-2333 for enquiries.

Covering an area of about 3,377 square metres, the project area is bounded by Ma Tau Wai Road, Hok Yuen Street and Chun Tin Street. The buildings within the project area were built between 1955 and 1957, ranging between 4 to 6 storeys in height.

The URA plans to provide smaller flats to the mass housing market.  Over 400 residential units with an average flat size of less than 50 square metres will be built in the new development to be carried out at URA's own resources. A deficit of some $1,000 million, exclusive of overhead expenditure, will be incurred upon redevelopment.

Other special features of this project include re-creation of the existing retail street frontage along Ma Tau Wai Road and Hok Yuen Street by low-rise retail structure, provision of about 1,000 square metres for Government, Institution and Community (GIC) facilities use and around 500 square metres at grade open space/ amenity areas which would help improve streetscape and air ventilation.

To enhance the awareness of owners on the importance of building management and regular maintenance, the URA considers providing a major resource centre in the new development.

(ENDS)