Weddings plan could revive historic mansion

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 12:00am


Couples may get to be married at King Yin Lei, the historic mansion saved from demolition in Stubbs Road, if the government adopts a revitalisation proposal.

The Lifestyle Group, which manages the renovated century-old Western Market in Sheung Wan, revealed its plan yesterday.

It comes as the Development Bureau set out conditions for revitalising four historic buildings. Interested organisations and developers can submit proposals over the next three months.

The three other heritage buildings being offered for non-profit use are Haw Par Mansion in Causeway Bay, Bridges Street Market in Sheung Wan, and the former Fanling Magistracy. These buildings, which hold memories for many Hongkongers, attracted more than 100 representatives from 52 organisations to the government briefing yesterday.

Structural alterations will not be allowed at King Yin Lei mansion because it is a declared monument, which some at the briefing said limited the creative uses of the property.

George Wong Fuk-wah, managing director of the Lifestyle Group, said holding weddings at the mansion required no architectural changes. 'It is also a profitable business that will sustain the operation for years,' he said.

Wong said his firm had been managing Western Market, another declared monument, for the Urban Renewal Authority since 2003, and had found ways of reviving business.

For example, a traditional Chinese restaurant on the market's second floor can be turned into a 'grand stage', allowing couples to hold wedding ceremonies and banquets at the same venue.

'We receive about 40 booking requests a day, which of course is far more than we can handle,' Wong said. 'About 30 per cent of local weddings take place at non-traditional venues instead of churches and restaurants now.'

The firm's proposal for King Ying Lei calls for replacing the swimming pool with a small 1930s-style chapel, in keeping with the mansion's design period. Couples could have their wedding ceremonies on-site, which would also be ideal for photography and cocktail receptions. However, banquets would not be practical because of the lack of kitchen space.

Wong said his firm was mulling a similar proposal for Fanling Magistracy.

Other groups at yesterday's briefing included artists hoping to convert the Bridges Street Market into a Cantonese theatre venue.