Market building should not be demolished

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1999, 12:00am

It seems that the original use of Central Market as a wholesale market for meat and vegetables has at last had its day now that the western part of Central is so developed and traffic so heavy. But surely going to the other extreme of demolishing the building and turning it into a building site for five years cannot be the best solution in the current times.

Anyway, not all of the market is antiquated.

On the second floor walkway there are many interesting little shops selling things like foreign coins, magazines, music CDs and there is even a Scottish kilt-maker (this must surely be the smallest of niche markets in Hong Kong); they are not making a fortune but they are employing people and making sales.

So the Government's new post-Budget pro-active tourist approach is to close and board-up these shops, while keeping the walkway open to serve the Mid-Levels escalator until the building is demolished - but there is not even an agreed plan for the redevelopment of the site yet. And it does not take a genius to guess that this will involve the construction of another high rise block, containing thousands of square feet of offices and the usual glossy bank on the ground floor.

Surely there are designers in Hong Kong who could economically refurbish the two main market floors and convert them into something immediately useful to Central District, for instance a clean air-conditioned indoor food market (as in Singapore).

This would give immediate aid to the hard-pressed office staff and shop assistants in Central, and who knows, it may even attract a haggis stall to provide for the customers waiting for their new kilts.