Don’t tamper with history, the developers of Avenue Walk in Wanchai appear to have learned.
They have now decided to rename the project to reflect its historical roots.
Sino Land Co. Ltd. (00083.HK) and Hopewell Holdings Ltd. (00054.HK) are joint-venture partners with the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) in redeveloping the site of the former Lee Tung Street into a shopping center.
The street was traditionally nicknamed “Wedding Card Street”, because almost all of the shops there were related to bridal services and products.
The developers had hoped to capitalize on that history by giving the project the Chinese name Hey Foon Lei, roughly meaning “I love you” in Cantonese.
They’ve now changed their mind.
Hopewell Holdings managing director Thomas Wu announced Monday the project would now be called Lei Tung Kai (Lei Tung Street) in Chinese and Lee Tung Avenue in English, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
He gave no reasons, although the announcement of the original names of the project in 2013 had drawn widespread public criticism for erasing part of Hong Kong Island’s history.
The developers intended to build a mall dedicated to wedding services.
They had hoped to reserve half of the 100,000 square feet in the three-story shopping center for wedding-related firms.
However, the response from potential tenants was reportedly not encouraging.
The newspaper said sources at property agents revealed they were asked to bring in tenants at a rent per sq ft between HK$90 and HK$300 to fill the 70 shop spaces, although the developers did not specify any preference for wedding services firms.
Those sources said nearly 90 percent of the spaces have been taken now, and the majority of tenants are in the fashion, leisure and cosmetics businesses.
Restaurants account for over 20 percent of the shop spaces.
Tenants, who are busy renovating their stores for the mall’s opening, scheduled for the first quarter of next year, first learned about the change in its Chinese name about two months ago.
Of the 27 tenants which moved out before the redevelopment project began, only 10 have opted to return to Lee Tung Street/Avenue.
Chan Siu-wan, owner of one of the 10 returnees, Hanes Printer & Publisher Ltd., said it can only afford a shop space of 250 sq ft, only one-10th the size of the old shop, because of the high rent.
A local resident surnamed Leung welcomed the decision to revert to the street’s original name.
“I really cannot comprehend what was on the developers’ minds,” he said.
“Lei Tung Kai just sounds so much better.”
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