Site picked for pioneer waterfront project
The first job for the newly established Harbourfront Commission is to make a small waterfront site hemmed in by busy highways attractive enough for people to use and for developers to build on and manage.
The 0.93-hectare site lies just north of City Hall and the People's Liberation Army garrison headquarters, separated from the waterfront promenade by the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, and sandwiched between the bypass and the P2 Road.
Planned for public open space with alfresco dining and green courtyards as well as three blocks not more than 20 metres high, it will be available for tender by the end of next year.
It was the first of several sites considered yesterday by the commission, which has come into being with more powers than its predecessor, the defunct harbourfront enhancement committee.
One key task of the commission is to identify waterfront sites that are suitable to be managed under public-private partnership. This means the government will provide waterfront sites to be built and managed by the private sector, which will recover the costs from commercial development and operation.
Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, also the vice-chairwoman of the commission, said the small, road-fringed site that is first on the list was expected to be a 'landmark and an exemplar' of the partnership.
She said the construction cost would be borne by the developer or non-governmental organisation that won the tender. She also championed a design competition engaging local and international architects.
The commission is expected to come up with a set of detailed arrangements, including how the site should be developed, managed and maintained.
But some commission members expressed worries that conditions laid down by the government would discourage developers. They also urged the administration to extend the site to the promenade to make the project more attractive.
Under the conditions disclosed by the Planning Department yesterday, the developer would be required to provide greening for half of the site and to limit the size of developments to not more than 7,500 square metres to avoid interfering with air flow.
The height of the buildings should not exceed 20 metres and should be divided into three separate blocks. No parking space is allowed but the design should incorporate seven loading and unloading bays and two lay-bys for drop offs. The developer should also consider linking the site with the waterfront and City Hall.
'There are so many constraints and it has to be iconic, we will have to look at the business model,' Peter Cookson Smith, vice-president of the Institute of Urban Design, said.
Architect Vincent Ng Wing-shun said: 'We have to think bigger and take this chance asking the developer to manage the promenade as well.'
The commission endorsed a proposal to move the Maritime Museum from Stanley to Central Pier No 8.