Renovation faces URA scrap heap

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 April, 2008, 12:00am

A tenement building in Central that featured in Ang Lee's film Lust, Caution is likely to be demolished by the Urban Renewal Authority, despite millions being spent to renovate it.

The 57-year-old building at 64 Staunton Street - known for its distinctive green shutters - was bought by investment advisory company Sausalito last year. The firm spent HK$30 million to buy and renovate it, but the beauty of the structure is going to be short-lived as it falls within URA redevelopment plans.

Juliette Chow Lip-ming, chief financial officer of Sausalito, said the building would provide both an office and staff quarters. 'It is our wish that our colleagues can work in a homely environment without having to walk past a cold lobby or cram into a crowded lift,' she said.

Ms Chow said the company knew the building fell inside the redevelopment zone when they struck the deal last December. But, at the time, no acquisition offer or detailed redevelopment plan had been disclosed.

'We heard that redevelopment schemes usually dragged on for years,' she said. 'We also believed that we would be able to voice our suggestion about how the area should be developed. But then a plan was released this year which said ours and the neighbouring blocks would be pulled down and replaced by a very tall building.'

The redevelopment project in Staunton Street and Wing Lee Street was one of 25 projects announced by the Land Development Corporation - the precursor of the Urban Renewal Authority - in 1998.

The Town Planning Board endorsed the development plan for the Staunton Street and Wing Lee Street project in 2003, but details were only unveiled this month. Under the plan, a residential building of 28 storeys will be erected.

Ms Chow said their plan kept the original flavour of the block, including the patterned floor tiles. And new green window shutters were also ordered to match the originals. 'We are worried that all our money and efforts will be wasted,' she said. 'I told the URA about our situation, but they did not address our concerns.'

The URA has offered compensation, but the company says it is not enough. A URA spokesman said residents and local organisations were briefed on the progress of the project during meetings, and relevant information had been discussed in meetings of the Central and Western District Council over the years.

A spokeswoman for the Central and Western Concern Group, Katty Law Ngar-ning, said it would create extra construction waste if the building was torn down so soon after being renovated.

The Town Planning Board has invited comments on the redevelopment project until tomorrow.