A Bruce Lee museum, if you let me upscale it

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2008, 12:00am

The owner of Bruce Lee's last home is willing to convert it into a museum and martial arts complex, but he wants the government to allow a 25,000 sq ft building to be constructed on the Kowloon Tong site.

Billionaire philanthropist Yu Panglin, who last week withdrew the HK$100 million house from sale, said yesterday that only a complex of 'great scale, great space and great content' could properly tell the story of the late movie and martial arts icon. The house is where Lee spent the last years before his death 35 years ago on July 20, 1973.

'We have to make it the best,' said Mr Yu, adding that as well as restoring the 5,000 sq ft two-storey house - now used as a love hotel - he wanted to include a museum, a cinema, a library and a martial arts centre.

But he said this would require an extension of the land use from residential to other purposes. He estimated that the complex would occupy 30,000 sq ft, requiring a new building with 25,000 sq ft of floor space.

Planning rules allow only a house of 5,350 sq ft on the 9,000 sq ft site.

'Therefore, we must have the government's support in order to succeed,' said Mr Yu, who has yet to work out the construction cost. He would write to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Development Bureau next week.

The bureau said the government was willing to learn more about the proposal.

The proposal has emerged amid worldwide clamour from fans for the house to be preserved as a museum.

Mr Yu, who had put the house up for tender with four other properties, had said he wanted to use the proceeds to help Sichuan quake victims.

'Having discussed repeatedly with Michael Choi Ngan-min, chairman of Land Power International Holdings, which handled the tender, I decided to withdraw the sale of 41 Cumberland Road and created this new plan,' he said yesterday.

Mr Yu said he would form a taskforce with Lee fans to raise funds and discuss the details of the planned complex.

'All the profits from the museum complex will go to charity after deducting all the costs,' he said, adding that he welcomed government management of the complex.

'I'm 86. I cannot manage the place myself,' he said.