Blue House residents can stay after renovation
Residents living in Wan Chai's Blue House - one of the city's last remaining balconied tenements - will be allowed to stay if they want to after the building is renovated.
About a dozen of the present 40 households are expected to stay in the building, which has been included in a pilot scheme for non-profit groups to take over and revitalise historic sites with the help of government money.
Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said any group that took over the 80-year-old grade one historic building would have to cater for the needs of the remaining residents. She said the project would be complicated and challenging.
'I had an opportunity to talk to some residents. Some of the families have lived there for three or four generations. The complexity of including Blue House in the scheme is that the NGOs must be able to come up with a proposal that can revitalise the building as well as address the needs of the residents, such as the provision of the basic facilities, including toilets.'
But she said the new arrangement would preserve the social network of the community and the Housing Authority had agreed to hand over the building to the government after the acquisition deal was completed.
A joint development plan by the Urban Renewal Authority and the Housing Authority had previously proposed transforming the 9,961 sq ft area into a cultural, commercial and tourist zone, while denying any residential use. But residents have been fighting for the right to remain in their homes. The government had offered to relocate them to public estates.
Abraham Lai Ka-chun, a St James' Settlement social worker who has been helping the residents, said he welcomed the decision. But he said practical arrangements, such as where the residents would live while the building was refurbished, should be discussed. Applications under the pilot scheme, which also includes Dragon Garden in Tsing Lung Tau, would open in February.