Wan Chai site marked out for new convention centre
Government wants building to be housed above new MTR station and next to existing centre
Joyce Ng and Ada Lee
The government has earmarked a site next to the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai for a new convention complex.
But the six-storey building, to stand atop the future MTR Exhibition station, will be used only for conventions and meetings.
The plans were outlined in the Planning Department's rezoning proposal submitted to the Town Planning Board for discussion today. The department said the proposal came from the Economic Development Commission set up this year by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
"It is considered that a topside development at the [station] primarily for convention and meeting facilities and other commercial-related uses would optimise the land resources and meet the economic needs of Hong Kong," the report said.
The block will be built on a 1.65 hectare site, now a bus terminus, and in front of the new Wan Chai harbourfront now being reclaimed. A public passageway is proposed to link the block to nearby buildings including the exhibition centre extension.
Exhibition and Convention Industry Association chairman Daniel Cheung Wai-hung said the proposal was good news for the industry. "It's very close to HKCEC. It could have a synergy effect," he said. Cheung, also a member of the Economic Development Commission, said it would be best if the venue were managed by the centre to avoid competition.
"There would be a lot of problems if the two operators could not co-operate," he said, citing a Guangzhou example where competing venues were built near each other.
A Commerce and Economic Development Bureau spokesman said the facility would not be phase three of the exhibition centre, and construction would start only after the Exhibition station was completed in 2020.
In January, commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung said the government did not plan to expand the centre, saying it would first encourage the centre to co-operate more with AsiaWorld-Expo near the airport.
The centre has turned away 44 exhibitions and 89 conferences in the past three years because of a shortage of space. It was saturated on 41 days last year while the Lantau venue was almost full on only eight days.