Residents welcome URA plan to rip down Sham Shui Po block
Urban Renewal Authority will move tenants to public housing if eligible, or compensate them, to make way for a new 25-storey development
Jennifer Ngo and Joyce Ng
A crumbling, heavily subdivided corner block in Sham Shui Po, built more than 50 years ago, will be replaced with a 25-storey development by 2021 under plans announced by the Urban Renewal Authority yesterday.
The proposal was welcomed by residents of the block on the corner of Tonkin and Fuk Wing Streets, who said the environment was "terrible".
It will be the authority's 15th project in the district, one of Hong Kong's most decrepit.
"It's an old building. It's time for it to be taken down," said Cheng Lung-ming, 70, who has lived in the same subdivided flat at 38 Tonkin Street for 20 years and applied for public housing just a few days ago. "I live alone, so it doesn't matter too much where I go. Of course, it would be best to stay [in Sham Shui Po]."
Another tenant of a subdivided flat, Lau Kai-hiu, 57, welcomed the move, as long as he could get public housing. Lau had a stroke a few years ago, so using the stairs of his decrepit building has become difficult.
"The environment around here is terrible. There are leaks everywhere, and cement chunks falling off," he said.
The buildings the URA hopes to acquire were built between 1955 and 1958, span 13 street numbers and are five to seven storeys high. The 1,270-square-metre site shelters an estimated 110 households and 27 businesses, but the URA said the exact number of residents had yet to be determined because of widespread illegal subdivision.
The proposed new development will provide 7,460 square metres of residential area - some 145 small- to mid-sized flats - and 1,490 square metres of commercial floor area. The estimated cost is HK$1.03 billion.
An authority spokesman said it was believed some flats in the buildings were divided into "coffin-sized units" stacked on three levels, as advertisements displaying "TV rooms for rent" - a euphemism for the tiny units - were put up on the staircase walls.
Eligible tenants will be moved to public housing or compensated, URA director of acquisition and clearance, Ian Wong, said. But some residents said private agencies had been snapping up flats in recent months, which might affect the authority's acquisition plans.
If there are no objections to the project and approval is granted by the Development Bureau, the structure should be completed by 2020-21.