The Sai Yee Street Project of the Urban Renewal Authority is being criticized for falling short of expectations after 10 years of planning and construction.
The project originally proposed a public space intended to be an open garden and a sports hall of fame but both are nowhere to be found, hk01.com reports.
A promised public consultation to solicit support during the planning stage did not materialize.
URA managing director Wai Chi-shing said in a blog post that a shop space will be dedicated as replacement for the sports hall of fame.
Wai said the new height limit decided by the Town Planning Board at 100 meters had forced them to change their plans in 2011.
The authority tried its best to preserve the pedestrian walkway around Fa Yuen Street and Sai Yee street, he said, adding a 3,000 sq. ft. public space will be completed by the end of the year.
The garden will be accessible by elevator and will be open to the public soon and it will also host sports-related events.
However, the garden will only be open during business hours, defeating the purpose of having an open public space, according to Apple Daily.
The project took 10 years to finish and involved 26,500 sq. ft. of space, 14 old buildings and 38 shops.
District councilor Yu Tak-po said the URA is trying to silence critics by introducing small make-up changes to its plans, and that the “open garden” looks more like a prop for the mall than a public space to be shared.
Yu also criticized the URA for removing the idea of a “hall” for the sports hall of fame, only randomly selecting a shop space as a make-shift solution.
He said the ultimate goal of the project is to satisfy the government’s business partners instead of promoting sports in Hong Kong.
Professor Chung Pak-kwong from the Hong Kong Baptist University said it is doubtful that the space to be allocated for the sports hall of fame will be enough since Hong Kong sports has a long history and many accomplishments.
Wai said that more than 60 percent of the 38 shops on the premises will be related to sports.
He said the plan had been changed quite a few times due to the long period it had taken to build. Scrapping the original sports hall of fame was one of the decisions they had to make.
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