Wan Chai residents bemoan loss of old 'Wedding Card Street'

December 16, 2015 14:54
Lee Tung Street, commonly known as Wedding Card Street, before and after a URA-led redevelopment initiative. Photos: webacademy.urec.org.hk, Apple Daily

Several Wan Chai residents, particularly the elderly, are bemoaning the loss of the traditional atmosphere and cultural characteristics of Lee Tung Street following a redevelopment project there.

The road, which was commonly known as Wedding Card Street for its array of small businesses involved in printing of traditional Chinese wedding invitation cards, has lost its old ambience in the wake of redevelopment, people say. 

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) had in 2003 unveiled a redevelopment initiative for the 200-meter-long street.

It then chose Sino Land Co. (00083.HK) and Hopewell Holdings (00054.HK) in a joint-venture effort to redevelop the street into a modern shopping area.

After 12 years of revamp, the street has finally re-opened, but there are only a few of the traditional wedding product shops still left in the area.

Most of the traditional shops have been replaced by big stores selling luxury items.

The street is now being called Avenue Walk and has become a 24-hour vehicle free zone.

Residents are feeling nostalgic as only three old pre-war buildings remain in the area.

Some people complain that redevelopment has destroyed the community, and that the new European-style stores that have come up are a misfit.

Shop owners who used to operate on Lee Tung Street have criticized the URA, saying that it failed to fulfill a promise to keep the street the way it was even after redevelopment, Apple Daily reported.

One owner told the paper that the URA had promised to allow indigenous shops to reopen on the street and enjoy preferential rents, but what actually happened is that luxury-brand stores have taken up most of the space.

With the entry of luxury-brand stores, rents have spiked to unaffordable levels, forcing small businesses out, he said.

-- Contact us at [email protected]