Mansion's popularity ensures public access condition of tender

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am

The strong public response to open days for historic Haw Par Mansion served as a reminder that any future use should keep it highly accessible, the Development Bureau says.

More than 31,000 people visited the grade-one historic building in Tai Hang Road, Causeway Bay, over the past three weekends, a bureau spokeswoman said yesterday.

'We noted that some visitors were disappointed to find the [Tiger Balm] garden was no longer there,' she said. 'But they also appreciated the architectural features of the mansion, which we will take care to preserve. We also understand that the public is concerned about the openness of the place. We will definitely make it a requirement in the tender.'

The bureau will shortly invite tenders for revitalisation of the former home of the Aw business family. Suggested uses include a restaurant, hotel, shop and entertainment spot. Of the 850 visitors who filled out a questionnaire, 90 per cent would not object to such uses, while 10 per cent objected to any commercial use.

The mansion was built in 1935 by Aw Boon-haw along with Tiger Balm Garden, named after the ointment he and brother Boon-par developed.

The garden, open to the public for decades, was bulldozed by Cheung Kong (Holdings) in 2004 to make way for The Legend luxury flats.

The bureau estimates an operator will need investment of HK$70 million, HK$45 million of which would be for upgrading and renovation. The operator will have to produce a conservation management plan.