Homeowners in old building upbeat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 March, 2006, 12:00am

The proposed relaxation of mandatory sales rules has raised hopes of homeowners in a Mid-Levels building.

They have been fighting for seven years to sell their building for redevelopment, but their plans have been thwarted by a few diehards and opportunistic developers.

The relaxation will lift interest among developers in a public auction planned for the 45-year-old building, at 9 Seymour Road. The building comprises 60 flats, which their owners said were not cost-effective to keep.

A developer interested in the land had approached them seven years ago, and only last summer did those in favour of selling finally gain the majority.

Yet the owners who refuse to sell hold slightly more than 10 per cent of the building and could be a hindrance to the sale, because at the moment they can only be forced to sell if the developer acquires 90 per cent of the building.

The sale, if realised, will fetch an estimated $320 million for the 9,948 sq ft site and could be worth even more if it is redeveloped with adjacent sites.

Welcoming the proposed relaxation, Ms Lam, one of the building owners, said it had been tough to negotiate a deal for homeowners whose property was too old for restoration, and she believed the relaxed rules could help their cause.

'The building is in a shabby condition. Despite that, when it comes to financing a repair, some owners will oppose it as it is expensive and then some will say it is not worth doing,' she said.

Ms Lam, a member of the auction organising committee, said some owners, mostly elderly people, were determined to stop the sale. 'They are not necessarily poor. Sometimes they just think they are too old and do not want big changes.'