Future of eyesore yet to be decided

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 November, 1998, 12:00am

The grimy Garley Building still stands, its fate unclear two years after it was gutted by fire.

The Buildings Department says the main owner, Chinese Arts and Crafts, has indicated an interest in redevelopment but a formal application has not yet been filed.

Meanwhile, neighbours want the building to be pulled down as soon as possible as they consider it an eyesore.

'My business has dropped by half. People just avoid passing the building and will take another route,' said one man who has run a nearby pharmacy for 20 years.

He said neighbours, especially those living opposite the Garley Building, had to live in the shadow of the tragedy unless it was pulled down.

Yeung Hok-man, manager of an optical shop next to the building, said his business had dropped by more than 40 per cent since the blaze.

'People used to buy glasses here after visiting doctors in the Garley Building,' he said.

Surveyors said redeveloping the site into commercial premises or a hotel was the most sensible option.

People would not be willing to move into the building even if it was declared safe after such a horrible fire, surveyor Pang Shiu-kee said.

But it was not a good time to sell the site because of the property market slump.

The Buildings Department said the building was structurally safe but the upper two floors were still off-limits, as repairs had not been carried out there.

A department spokesman said the owners had appointed an authorised person to monitor the safety of the building and file monthly reports.

'The owners have indicated that they want to pull it down and redevelop the site.' Chinese Arts and Crafts would not comment.