Demolition work has begun on the 80-year-old building housing the Tung Tak Pawn Shop in Wan Chai, Sing Tao Daily reported Tuesday.
The property owner has obtained approval from the Buildings Department to turn the building into a 23-storey commercial tower.
The pawn shop is located in one of a very small number of such historic buildings left after most of them disappeared from the city’s landscape.
Considered a Wan Chai landmark, the building on the corner of Hennessy and Marsh roads was erected in the 1930s.
In 1954, the pawn shop moved in.
The Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) rated the building as a Grade III monument, meaning that “preservation in some form would be desirable, and alternative means could be considered if preservation is not practicable”.
The Wan Chai District Council said in a report published five years ago that the Grade III building could be considered for preservation.
However, the Buildings Department granted approval to the owner, Tak Sing Properties Ltd., owned by the family of casino king Ko Ho-ning, in August 2003 to tear down the historic building and construct a 23-storey commercial building with a gross floor area of 2,700 square meters.
The AMO said it held three discussions with Tak Sing Properties between 2009 and 2010 about preserving the buildings, but the firm insisted on demolition, agreeing only to take pictures and provide architectural drawings of the building to the office.
Wan Chai district councillor Yolanda Ng Yuen-ting said existing preservation policies neither offer sufficient incentives for owners to consider preservation nor have the ability to otherwise facilitate the preservation of buildings of historical value.
However, Ng said that if the government offered to buy Grade III buildings, of which there are hundreds across Hong Kong, to preserve them, it would give the impression it was misusing the public’s money.
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