Tiger Balm mansion needs HK$120m spent

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 January, 2011, 12:00am

The historic Haw Par Mansion will need at least HK$120 million spent on it to revitalise it into a business, the Development Bureau said, as it set out the requirements for potential bidders for the project yesterday.

According to the tender document, the potential operator will have to prove it has this amount of disposable capital and will be responsible for restoring the 76-year-old building in Tai Hang Road.

The bureau said commercial uses such as a restaurant, an art and antique gallery, a boutique hotel, a wine-related business or a training centre, would be suitable for the site, but bidders were free to suggest uses.

Last year, it withdrew a HK$45 million contribution to renovate the complex before renting it out.

Conservancy Association campaign manager Peter Lee Siu-man said he was worried the high capital requirement would make the site 'destined' to be an exclusive club.

Officials will use a two-envelope tender, giving a 70 per cent rating to bidders' technical proposals and 30 per cent to their financial offers - the rent they propose to pay.

They will also require the operator to maintain some public access to the site, including setting up a 40-square-metre heritage centre in the two-storey building, which is 2 per cent of the block's floor area.

The centre, showcasing the history of the Aw family, for whom the mansion was built, will have to open free of charge for not less than six days a week. The operator will also have to run weekly free guided tours.

The lease will be for seven years, renewable for another three years. The business should be running by 2014.

The residence was built in 1935 in the Chinese Renaissance style by businessman Aw Boon-haw along with Tiger Balm Garden, named after the ointment he and brother Boon-par developed. The garden was open to the public and became a favourite visiting spot for locals and tourists.

The garden was sold by Aw's daughter Sally Aw Sian to Cheung Kong (Holdings), which cleared it in 2004 to build a luxury property development, The Legend. The mansion was given to the government.