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URA awards operation contract for Central Market

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announces today (8 February) that the URA Board has approved the tender award to Noble Vantage Ltd., a member company of Chinachem Group, as the main operator of the Central Market Revitalisation Project (the Project) for a period of 10 years.  The URA will sign the operation contract and agreement for lease with Noble Vantage Ltd., and it is expected that the first phase of operation of the Project will commence in the 3rd quarter of 2021.

As announced in the 2009 Policy Address, the URA was tasked to revitalise the former Central Market building to provide a green public open space for diversified uses for public enjoyment.  A Community Advisory Committee was set up 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.  The mainstream public aspirations were derived with due consideration to conservation elements and public enjoyment as the two major principles of the future operation model, and profit-maximisation should not be considered.

Upon the approval of the planning application of the Project by the Town Planning Board, the Government granted a short term tenancy in the 4th quarter of 2017 to enable the URA to commence restoration and preservation works.  Targets were set to complete the works by phases, allowing the revitalised Central Market building to re-open for public use and enjoyment as early as possible.

Upon completion of the first phase in the 4th quarther of 2020, the Chief Executive in Council has granted the former Central Market site to the URA by way of private treaty for 21 years to enable the URA and the main operator of the Central Market to take up the preservation and revitalisation of the building in a sustainable way. 

The URA encapsulated the operation principles aspired by the public into three key themes, namely “approachable”, “energetic” and “gregarious”. Organisations interested in tendering for the operation of the Project have to submit a proposal, based on the three key themes, that covered six categories as governance, administration and management, destination creation, tenancy management, finance and facilities management.

Three key themes of operation

  • Approachable: to create a unique character of the historic building with the integration of the conservation elements of the Project; to provide quality public space for public enjoyment, and to promote the site as a community meeting place
  • Energetic: to make good use of the space of the Project to host diversified community activities, infusing vibrancy into the Central Market
  • Gregarious: to offer affordable and diversified facilities in catering, retail and culture, meeting the needs of people from all walks of life

In view of the operation principle of not to maximise profit and the significant capital investment to be outlaid by the main operator of the Project, the URA has committed to a cost contribution for management and maintenance of the public facilities, including the public open space, the 24-hour public passageway connecting the Mid-levels escalator and the Central district, and the public toilets. 

The URA commenced the tender exercise on operator selection in early September 2020. A total of three tenders with technical and financial proposals were received upon the close of tender submission on 1 December 2020.  After a thorough review and evaluation of the three proposals, the Central Market Leasing Management Panel, set up by the URA Board, endorsed the tender award to Noble Vantage Ltd..

Upon entering into the agreement for lease and operation contract between the URA and Noble Vantage Ltd., a joint management committee will be set up to devise details on the implementation of the business plan. The performance and operational effectiveness of the main operator and its tenants will also be closely monitored and supervised by the committee to ensure the fulfilment of creating the revitalised Central Market as an energetic, vibrant, and a landmark for the community.