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The Chairman of URA, Barry Cheung, and the Secretary for Development, Carrie Lam, meet the media on the Revitalisation of Central Market.
The building is characterized by its functionalism
Cross-section of Central Market (Facing Queen Victoria Street)
An arts event atrium and access to sky garden
A new landmark in Central
All-weather landscaped atrium

URA to earmark $500 million for 'Central Oasis'

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Monday) announced its preliminary conservation and revitalisation plans for the Central Market. Total cost for the rejuvenated Central Oasis is now estimated to be in the region of $500 million which will be incurred to renovate and refurbish the entire historic building as well as provide greenery, a public rest and leisure area amidst the hustle and bustle of Central.  An advisory committee with broad representation will be set up to provide views and input to the URA.

This initiative is a prompt response to the announcement by the Chief Executive in his Policy Address of 14 October that the URA would be tasked to conserve the Central Market, which forms part of a series of innovative projects to reinvigorate the legend of Central.

Co-hosting a media briefing this afternoon to announce the plans were the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Chairman of the URA, Mr Barry Cheung.

Mr Cheung said: "This exciting project needs the support of the community if we are to make this project an all-round success. The URA is fully committed to turning this Grade III historic building into an urban oasis that everyone in Hong Kong can enjoy and be proud of and we look forward to participation from various groups. It is meant to be a collective effort.  An advisory committee, with membership from the District Council, professional bodies and other stakeholders, will therefore be set up to help take this project forward. Relevant government departments such as the Antiquities and Monuments Office will also be consulted."

Members of the committee will be consulted extensively and will, for example, be asked for their views on the operation and business mix of the Market.  The URA's detailed implementation plan would take into account public interest and feedback, building structural condition, work programme and cost effectiveness.

"Given the high density and the need for better air ventilation in busy Central, we propose to adopt 'Central Oasis' as a theme for this project. The objective would be to introduce more greenery into Central and to create an amenity space for the public, especially the working population in Central, to enjoy a variety of leisurely and relaxing activities throughout the day."

The URA's proposal includes specially themed floors and areas, such as 'Cultural Square', 'Oasis Station', 'Green Living' and "Sky Garden".  Some 8,000 square metres of floor area would be used as information-cum-leisure space that would feature, for example, a bookstore, cyber information points, affordable eateries, healthy lifestyle corners and an arts event atrium.   The Central Oasis would also provide ample greening at a 1,000-square metre landscaped 'Sky Garden' and an all-weather landscaped atrium. Lifts and barrier-free access would enhance connectivity within and around the building.

The URA (and its predecessor Land Development Corporation) have over recent years completed a number of projects in the Central district.  Two redevelopment projects, The Center and the Grand Millennium Plaza, are in the vicinity of the Central Market. The Peel Street/ Graham Street project and the Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street project are two current URA redevelopment projects that incorporate conservation elements including the preservation of  Bridges Street Market. Other preservation and revitalisation efforts include the Western Market and the Sheung Wan Fong. This new project will reinforce our continuing efforts to meet the changing aspirations of the community.

"It is clear that revitalising the Central Market would offer substantial benefits and create a valuable asset for the community. Despite such high capital outlay, we are determined to do everything we can to make this project a success.  As a design bonus, it would also allow for the linking up of URA projects and other historical buildings in the area, " added Mr Cheung.

Built in 1939, the 4-storey Central Market was the then Canton Bazaar, which was where 'east meets west' and 'old meets new'.   This historic building is a fine example of the Streamlined Moderne style of architecture of that era, which emerged from the later phases of Art Deco design. It is characterized by the building's slim horizontal lines and functionalism.    The Central Market ceased to operate in March 2003.

Situated strategically, and easily accessible from Des Voeux Road Central, Queen's Road Central and Jubilee Street, the Central Market building links up with the core footbridge system in Central that connects major commercial centres in the district, including the IFC and Exchange Square.  It also connects with the mid-levels escalator system that takes people to the Former Police Married Quarters site on Hollywood Road, the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum and the Historical Trail.

The revitalisation project will be carried out in phases.  Structural investigation of the building will first be made and, should no reinforcement work be needed, the first phase would require two to three years.  The whole project is expected to take about five years to complete.