A government panel has rejected all three proposals received for revitalization of the historic King Yin Lei mansion in Mid-Levels as the offers were deemed “not good enough”.
It marks the second time that authorities failed to find a suitable blueprint for the 78-year-old Chinese-style mansion located at Stubbs Road, after a previous setback in 2013.
The government had sought proposals from the private sector for revitalization of the mansion, which in July 2008 was officially recognized as a monument.
Bernard Chan, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Revitalization of Historic Buildings, said the usages outlined in the latest proposals did not conform to the building’s heritage and special architectural characteristics.
“The government has put much emphasis on repairs. That’s why we don’t want to adopt any proposal that does not meet the requirements,” Chan said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
In examining the proposals, the committee considered whether any change in King Yin Lei will be good for the society and for the building itself, he said.
The panel used five criteria to evaluate three proposals that it received for the mansion.
The criteria included the ability to preserve the historical value and importance of the building, technical issues, ensuring value to society and social enterprises, and financial viability and management ability of the user.
All three proposals were said to have failed the on the financial viability aspect.
The panel was hoping that the mansion can be operated as a social enterprise, providing profit for the operator while also benefiting the society.
The proposals were rejected as authorities didn’t want to find themselves in a position of having to take over a non-sustainable operation, Chan said.
According to the report, one of the proposals received was to convert King Yin Lei into a venue for weddings. That plan was said to have come from the Lifestyle Group.
Another proposal, from Earthpulse founder and chairman Hing Chao, was to use the building as a martial arts school, while the third proposal — from NGO Live to Love International — was to use the mansion as a charity center.
Lifestyle Group managing director George Wong Fuk-wah was quoted as saying that he was disappointed with the results of the tender. He said his group had spent about HK$300,000 on doing research for the King Yin Lei project over the last three years.
Earthpulse’s Chao said King Yin Lei should be rebuilt into a kung fu center as it was the venue for some of the key scenes in the hit Bruce Lee film “Enter the Dragon”.
Now, with all private proposals rejected, the government will manage the mansion by itself.
The mansion could be thrown open to the public as early as next month.
The government became concerned about King Yin Lei in 2007 as its then owner was trying to alter some of the building’s historical features.
In the following year, authorities declared the building as a monument and took over the facility. The building’s owner was granted an adjacent site as compensation.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 17.
Translation by Charis Heung
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