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URA makes revitalisation debut in Sheung Wan

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Friday) announced a 'Sheung Wan Fong' project as the first phase of a revitalisation scheme to rejuvenate Sheung Wan - Hong Kong's earliest business district.

The project which will cost about $30 million is a joint effort between the URA, Highways Department, Home Affairs Department and the Central & Western District Council. The MTR Corporation, Hong Kong Tramways Limited, Transport Department, Lands Department and Telford Recreation Club, a leisure and sports organiser, have also provided assistance for the project.

The project aims to create a new hub for community activities in the Western Market and Morrison Street area. Works will involve:

  • a major refurbishment of the venerable Western Market shopping mall that serves as an anchor to the project,
  • construction of a multi-purpose public square to be named Sheung Wan Fong,
  • re-paving, widening and beautification of sidewalks around the Western Market and the square,
  • beautification of a footbridge linking Western Market to Gala Point and Shun Tak Centre, and
  • re-designing a nearby MTR structure and a tram station into streetscape features.

Officiating at a ceremony to launch the project today, the URA's Managing Director, Mr. Billy Lam, said the project signified the URA crossing the threshold to revitalisation as a new approach in urban renewal.

"The Authority's strategy is to rely not only on redevelopment but also on three other approaches, namely revitalisation, rehabilitation and preservation. We call it The 4Rs Strategy," Mr. Lam said.

He said that following the Sheung Wan project, planning and design for four more revitalisation projects on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon would also commence within this year. He said that hopefully the URA's revitalisation effort would go well in tandem with the SAR Government's on-going thrust to stimulate the local economy.

He told a gathering of Sheung Wan's community leaders at the ceremony that the URA had chosen Sheung Wan for this pioneer project for two main reasons.

"As Hong Kong's earliest business district, Sheung Wan has a large potential for economic revitalisation based on its rich heritage of traditional Chinese trades and restaurant industry, as well as historic spots and cultural traits such as the Man Mo Temple, Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street), Possession Point and Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail.

"The other reason is that we have already completed several major projects in Sheung Wan, including conservation of the Western Market and redevelopment projects at New Millenium Plaza and Queen Street. In addition, we have announced recently another major redevelopment project to be carried out in Staunton Street.

"All this has combined to form a strategic line-up. And the time has come for us to fit in the final piece of the jigsaw - revitalisation that would bring together everything to form a complete picture," Mr. Lam said.

Refurbishment of the Western Market has begun and will be completed in July. Construction work for Sheung Wan Fong and the vicinity area will be completed in about two years' time.

Together with Western Market, Sheung Wan Fong will become a new focal point for open-air performances, celebrative occasions, community events and other forms of arts, leisure and promotional activities.

The design of Sheung Wan Fong has incorporated ideas from a community workshop organised by the URA's Central and Western District Advisory Committee and a Western Market Neighbourhood Idea Competition. Winners of the competition were presented with the awards at the ceremony today.

Officiating at the ceremony were Chairman of the URA Central and Western District Advisory Committee, Mr. Michael Lai, Chairperson of the URA Community Affairs and Public Relations Committee, Mrs. Peggy Lam, URA Managing Director, Mr. Billy Lam, Chairman of the Central & Western District Council, Mr. Wu Chor-nam, District Officer, Central & Western District, Mr. Paul Wong, Deputy Director of Highways, Mr. Wong Chee-keung, Chairman of the Working Group on Tourism and Promotion of the Central & Western District Council, Mr Kam Nai-wai and Chairman of the Spotlight Recreation Club, Mr. Michael Chan.

Upon completion of phase one, the URA will consider the feasibility of phase two of the scheme that is intended to cover areas around Upper Lascar Row, Possession Street, Bonham Strand and New Market Street.

Design of the Sheung Wan Fong project logo, in the form of a square, reflects its Chinese literal meaning. The compass motif signifies the important history of this part of Sheung Wan where stands a historical building of Western style and goods from the East were shipped in for trade. Circles spinning around the compass represent the incessant and enriching impact of the revitalisation project to promote and enhance socio-economic activities in the area, from near to far away.

An overview of the upgrading and environmental improvement works for the Sheung Wan Fong project. Apart from a major refurbishment of Western Market, it will also include:

A) widening and repavement of the footpaths immediately surrounding Western Market with a special pattern to reflect the architectural style and colour of Western Market. Special lighting and bollards of a similar style will also be provided to enhance attractiveness;

B) MTRC vent shaft in front of Western Market will be beautified;

C) Re-alignment and renovation of open space between Morrison Street and Sheung Wan Complex to form a multi-purpose public square - Sheung Wan Fong;

D) Beautification of the footbridge linking Western Market and Sheung Wan Gala Point, and

E) Beautification of the tram station at Des Voeux Road Central to reflect the style of Western Market.

An artist's impression of the MTRC vent shaft after beautification works. The space in front of Western Market may be used for community activities to increase pedestrian flow.

The compass motif of the Sheung Wan Fong signifies the importance of old trades in the area, as this is a point where Chinese and Western cultures converge. It also serves as a direction guide pointing out the locations of various prominent local features in the district.

The existing open space at the junction of Morrison Street and Wing Lok Street will be widened and beautified to form a multi-purpose public square - Sheung Wan Fong.

The footbridge linking Western Market and the Sheung Wan Gala Point will be beautified, with design reflecting the architectural style of Western Market.