Developer aims for a marriage of ideas at mall

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2011, 12:00am


Visitors to a shopping mall being built on the site of Wan Chai's 'Wedding Card Street' are unlikely to find any of the traditional wedding card printers forced out by redevelopment, but big jewellery and cosmetics brands will be well represented.

The redevelopment, by a Hopewell Holdings-Sino Land joint venture is more likely to feature a variety of shops, according to a developer in charge of the project.

Under a deal with the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), the development was required to allocate 25 per cent of its floor space in the new mall to wedding-related shops and services, but it is reconsidering the tenant mix.

The wedding theme was adopted to mark the street's distinctive history as a hub of workshops printing traditional wedding cards. The street, officially called Lee Tung Street, was cleared for renewal after months of bitter campaigning by conservation activists in 2007.

After that, the URA said the mall would house shops offering goods and services such as wedding gowns, flowers, cakes, jewellery, limousine rentals and wedding planning, and hair salons, and would give priority to the printers who were forced out.

But William Wong Wing-lam, executive director of Hopewell, said yesterday the company had a broader view of the theme. 'Many things have something to do with weddings. Jewellery shops or cosmetics shops ... Wouldn't you say they are relevant? Brides do wear make-up and jewellery,' Wong said.

He said most of the former printing workshops had already settled in other locations, and would not fit the commercial nature of the mall.

A URA spokesman said the authority had not yet talked with the developers about the tenant composition. But, as a joint-venture partner, it 'had a say' in what shops could enter the project.

The shops will be in two commercial blocks and three preserved shophouses on the site. The entire project will include about 1,300 flats.

Ada Wong Ying-kay, a former Wan Chai district council chairwoman who campaigned against the redevelopment, said some of the future shops should be rented cheaply to traditional businesses. 'At least the wedding card element should be brought back. Otherwise the theme is only a gimmick, lacking any local character,' she said.

Meanwhile, Hopewell is organising its second Queen's Road East Festival over three weekends, starting on November 19. Exhibitions, art shows and food and wine tastings will be held in open areas of its properties.