Viewings begin on mansion bid

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 February, 2011, 12:00am

At least 10 organisations have shown interest in taking on the convservation of Haw Par Mansion.

The potential tenants have signed up for the Development Bureau's on-site briefings on the future of the grade one historic site, to be held on Wednesday and Friday of next week.

The government is looking for business proposals for the 76-year-old site on Tai Hang Road, and estimates it will cost about HK$120 million to renovate.

So far, suggestions have included turning it into a wedding venue, wine centre or restaurant. Potential tenants have until late April to put forward proposals.

Property giant Cheung Kong (Holdings) said on Tuesday it had reached agreement with the mansion's former owner, Tiger Balm heiress Sally Aw Sian, to enter a joint bid with her charity, the Aw Boon Haw Foundation.

The foundation declined to comment yesterday.

Sino Land, seen as a potential competitor, did not respond to inquiries on whether it was interested in the mansion. The company's executive director, Daryl Ng Win-kong, won the bidding to restore the old Tai O police station with the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation, which he set up in 2007.

The cost of the Haw Par project has led to concerns the mansion is destined to become an exclusive club or a private clubhouse for The Legend tower blocks built on the site of the Tiger Balm Garden next to the house.

Officials will rate bids 70 per cent on what they propose to do with the building and 30 per cent on how much they propose to spend on it.

They will also require the new tenant to maintain some public access to the site, including putting aside 40 square metres for a heritage centre within the two-storey building.

The mansion was built in the Chinese Renaissance style by Aw's father, businessman and philanthropist Aw Boon-haw, who also built the Tiger Balm Garden, named after the ointment he developed.

The garden was opened to the public in the fifties and became one of the city's favourite parks. .

It was sold by Sally Aw to Cheung Kong, which cleared it in 2004 to build The Legend.