Over 1,000 residents of the South Horizons housing complex in Hong Kong’s Ape Lei Chau took to the streets on May 1 to protest a plan to turn a local shopping arcade, which now mainly sells everyday life items, into a facility housing outlets of luxury brands such as Prada, Apple Daily reported Friday.
The landlord is said to be planning to revamp the shopping arcade by introducing top jewelry, watch and other brands to its shop spaces on the first floor and doubling the existing rent. The planned high-end brand outlets are aimed, in part, at luring mainland tourists.
A ParknShop supermarket that is currently on the first floor will be upgraded to a higher class “Taste” store and move to the third floor under the new plan.
Everyday item stores would then have to compete for spaces on the second floor, with rents set to increase by 50 percent. The news has driven rents at a nearby shopping arcade higher, with a small shop measuring just over 100 square feet asking for over HK$10,000 a month now, against the previous level of HK$7,000 a month.
Protestors gathered outside a planned Prada outlet on Thursday, with their arms crossed in a gesture to say ‘No’ to the proposed move. A middle-class investment banker, who gave his surname as Chan, was quoted as saying that it is important that the residents stand up to make their voice heard.
Legislator Chan Ka-lok of the Civic Party has urged the landlord to listen to the residents. Chan said the landlord should come out and give a clear promise that the existing shopping arcade will not be converted into luxury outlet stores. It is important that facilities such as a dental clinic, drugstore and laundry shops that are necessary to the residents will remain in place, he said.
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