Star Ferry to provide new attraction at Central waterfront

May 05, 2015 16:45
An artist's rendering of Ferry Plaza, which will house a refurbished Celestial Star, one of Star Ferry's oldest vessels. Credit: Harbourfront Commission

Star Ferry Co. Ltd, which operates the iconic heritage ferries that ply between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, is planning to add a new landmark on the city's famed harborfront.

The company, whose history dates back to more than 125 years, intends to turn one its oldest ferries -- the Celestial Star -- into a restaurant as part of a "Ferry Plaza" project.

In a proposal handed to the Harbourfront Commission Tuesday, Star Ferry said it plans to convert the New Central Harbourfront near the Public Piers 9 and 10 -- where a giant ferris wheel is located at the moment -- into the Ferry Plaza, which will house, among other things, the Celestial Star.

Celestial Star, which was built in 1955 and was in service for more than 50 years, will be refurbished into public facilities, but its structural characteristics will be retained as cultural heritage.

The ferry will be placed within an artificial pond near the waterfront. A restaurant will be located in the upper deck, while parts of the upper deck will also serve as public viewing space for visitors to enjoy the stunning cityscape and harbor views.

Meanwhile, the lower deck will house cafés and bars as well as a public exhibition area to introduce the history of the Star Ferry to the public.

Revenue generated from the bars and restaurants will be used to subsidize ferry fares for the public, according to the company.

In May 2013, the Lands Department awarded a three-year contract to Swiss AEX, allowing it to operate a ferris wheel at the new harbourfront for a monthly rent of HK$850,000 (US$109,650).

After the tenancy expires, the group can apply for rental extension on a quarterly basis. But the Harbourfront Commission can also decide to turn the space for other uses.

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Existing arrangements at Ferry Plaza site (2015)
Conceptual Layout Plan for the proposed Ferry Plaza
Proposed (indicative) distribution of spaces and layout in Celestial Star

EJ Insight writer