The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is said to have decided to preserve the entire historical building on 120 Wellington Street in Central, bowing to the demands of conservation activists.
By opting to preserve the entire building, the agency is breaking with its normal practice of retaining only the street-facing facades of heritage properties that are sought to be redeveloped, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The paper cited sources from the URA as saying that the cost of preservation will be steep, and that the proposal would mean that at least 4,000 square feet of commercial space worth hundreds of millions of dollars is being sacrificed.
The building has a site area of 350 square meters and the plot ratio for non-residential land use is seven.
The ground floor of the building was home to the famous Wing Woo Grocery, which had operated for more than 80 years until its closure in 2009, while the second and third floors were for residential purposes.
The building, which came up in 1879 was purchased by the Urban Renewal Authority in 2008.
As the agency mulled redevelopment plans for old properties in the area, Wing Woo Grocery shut shop in early 2009, leaving the building vacant since.
Following the latest news, Wing Woo’s erstwhile owner, a person surnamed Kwan, said he is very pleased with the URA’s decision to preserve the building.
The building has been an important landmark in the neighborhood for decades and has been a symbol of the local community, he said.
Now living in a subsidized Home Ownership Scheme flat in Chai Wai, Kwan still revisits the historic building twice a week.
As one of the last traditional grocery shops in Central, Wing Woo had gained fame and the store even used to attract the odd foreign tourist.
A representative of a group that had lobbied to preserve the old building has lauded URA’s decision.
The group, which calls itself Wing Woo Grocery Concern Group, will now keep an eye on the quality of the repair work, said the person.
The conservation group filed an application to the Antiquities Advisory Board towards the end of 2016 to have the building listed as a graded monument. The application was accepted and was awaiting a hearing.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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