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Bureau seeks new bids to develop Haw Par Mansion

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 May, 2011, 12:00am

The future of Haw Par Mansion remains unclear after the only bid to redevelop the historic building was rejected.

The Development Bureau invited tenders again yesterday after revealing the sole bid did not meet some of the mandatory requirements.

The bureau declined to identify the bidder or indicate which requirements were not met.

The first round of bidding for the grade one listed mansion in Tai Hang Road ended last month.

The bureau required bidders to have capital of at least HK$120 million. They would have to agree to provide a reasonable degree of access for the public and to pay for the restoration and renovation of the 76-year-old property.

The bureau said there were no changes in the requirements in the new round of tendering.

If no successful bidder comes forward again, the mansion will be revitalised under other schemes.

These could include the Revitalising Historical Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, under which charity organisations are invited to take part.

'Although response was lukewarm, we believe that given the uniqueness of this project, it may be worth another attempt to test the market,' a spokesman for the Commissioner for Heritage's Office said.

The new tendering period will end in August.

Under the bureau's plan, the mansion was to be transformed into a heritage landmark sustained by business operations on the site.

Property giant Cheung Kong (Holdings) said in February it was interested in filing a bid with original owner Sally Aw Sian, the former Sing Tao Group chairman, in the first tendering period.

The company would not comment yesterday on whether it was the bidder mentioned by the bureau.

Peter Li Siu-man, a campaign manager for the Conservancy Association, said the inconvenient location of the building might limit its future development. 'It's not a prime site,' he said. 'Transport to the area is not convenient.'

He also said the amount of capital required by the bureau had limited the bidding to property tycoons. 'It's time for the bureau to rethink the system for revitalisation,' he said.

The residence, along with the Tiger Balm Garden, was built by businessman Aw Boon-haw in 1935.

The garden complex was sold by his daughter Sally Aw to Cheung Kong in 1998 for redevelopment.

Cheung Kong cleared the garden in 2004 to develop the residential project Legend and surrendered the mansion to the government.

31,000

The number of visitors to tour the grade-one Haw Par Mansion during open days last year

- It is built in the Chinese Renaissance style

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