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URA welcomes Government’s approval of land grant in support of the revitalisation of Central Market

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Wednesday) welcomes the approval-in-principle of the Chief Executive-in-Council for granting the site of the former Central Market to URA for 21 years by way of private treaty for the revitalisation of the building and its future operation.

The URA was tasked by the Government in the Policy Address 2009 of the Chief Executive to revitalise the former Central Market building to provide diversified uses and greening for public enjoyment.  The URA then set up the Community Advisory Committee to conduct an extensive public engagement exercise from 2009 to 2011 to collect views and gauge public aspirations on the future use and operation of the revitalised Central Market building.  In 2015, the URA announced that it would adopt a simplified version of design to preserve the old building.  The plan was later approved by the Town Planning Board (TPB) in March 2016 with further approvals of the new façade design of the building facing Des Voeux Road Central, the preservation proposal of market stalls, the landscape proposal and the design of the public open space, submitted by the URA in the same year.

A spokesman for the URA said: "We are grateful that the Government will also grant a five-year Short Term Tenancy to enable us to commence works the soonest possible, which is in line with public aspirations to have the revitalised Central Market building re-opened for public use and enjoyment as early as possible."  Subject to obtaining necessary approvals from relevant Government departments, the URA targets to start relevant building works in the third quarter of this year and complete the project by 2021/22.

The spokesman added that an Ad-hoc committee, which was set up in January 2016 under the URA Board, will take forward the implementation of the project and its future management and operation in accordance with the guiding principles, in particular in connection with the provision of affordable cultural and retail uses, which were formulated by the former Community Advisory Committee as a result of the three-year extensive public engagement exercise.  The URA will keep the Central and Western District Council and relevant stakeholders informed of the progress of the project.

Standing on a site of 4,150 square metres and highly accessible in the heart of the Central district, the Central Market revitalisation scheme will provide a total floor area of about 12,000 square metres, including the roof, for affordable cultural and retail facilities.  According to the TPB's approved scheme, an open space of 1,000 square metres will be provided at the existing atrium and entrance plaza facing Queen's Road Central, while the external walls on the ground floor facing Jubilee Street and Queen Victoria Street will be opened up to enhance accessibility and connectivity.  The new façade facing Des Voeux Road Central will also be re-instated to enhance visual permeability of the building.

"In addition to the project cost for preserving the old building, which was estimated at around $740 million at 2016 price, the URA has also committed to take responsibility of the regular repair and maintenance of this historical building, as well as the management of the common facilities such as the 24-hour passageway and open space during the period of the treaty. 

"It is aimed for the future operation of the Central Market to be financially self-sustainable, without funding from the Government," the spokesman said.