The huge sign of the 80-year-old Tung Tak Pawn Shop in Wan Chai was dismantled early Wednesday, Metro Daily reported Thursday.
Last-ditch efforts from different sectors of the local community to preserve the historical building were to no avail.
Although the property was listed as a Grade III historic building by the Antiquities and Monuments Office, the owner obtained approval from the Buildings Department in 2013 to turn the building into a 23-story commercial tower.
About 2,000 signatures were collected calling for the building to be temporarily classified as a monument while a conservation proposal is worked out.
A local concern group said on its Facebook page that the property owner swiftly assigned workers to take the sign outside the building down early Wednesday morning.
Residents nearby have filed complaints to the Environmental Protection Department about the noise created by the heavy machinery.
Other netizens have mourned the loss of yet another building of significant historical value.
Wendy Ng Wan-yee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Architecture said the Tung Tak Pawn Shop building is one of only three prewar buildings left in the city of a curved design on a street corner.
The Tung Tak building, with its characteristic pillars along the sidewalk, is the only such building on Hong Kong Island.
Ng said earlier assessments done on the building may have neglected its value to the history of the local pawn shop industry.
Several groups started a petition this month against its demolition.
Singers Anthony Wong Yiu-ming and Denise Ho Wan-see and former legislative councilor Audrey Eu Yuet-mee are among the signatories.
The groups have called for Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po, who oversees heritage policies, to suspend any demolition work for 12 months while a reassessment of the building is conducted.
The land underlying the pawn shop building is estimated to be worth about HK$400 million (US$51.6 million).
Conservation advocates are calling for the government to establish a preservation fund of HK$900 million and to consider buying sites of historical buildings.
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