Wedding Card Street in Wan Chai vanishes off map for 'high street' plan

Retailers ask if developers will honour their vows as plan for Wan Chai landmark revealed

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 7:57am

The name of Lee Tung Street will vanish from the city's map as developers remodel the heart of old Wan Chai as "the perfect high street".

The 200-metre pedestrian precinct that is replacing what was once affectionately known as "Wedding Card Street" has been dubbed Avenue Walk.

Sino Land associate director Roger Poon said "the name Lee Tung Street will no longer exist on the map" as the area would be traffic-free and not regarded as a street in the government registry.

"We want to re-create the intimate atmosphere of old Wan Chai," Poon said. In Chinese it will be known as Hei Foon Lei or "lane of double happiness", which sounds like the Cantonese phrase, "I like you." Poon said it was an intended coincidence to invoke a sense of belonging.

But activists who campaigned for years against the redevelopment and mounted bitter protests when the site was cleared in 2007, think differently.

Wong Ho-yin, convenor of urban-planning group Land Justice League, said loss of the street name amounted to "erasing the history and identity of the place".

Former tenants whose wedding-related businesses gave the street its nickname are also waiting to see if any will be able to return when the project is completed late next year. The new Avenue Walk will be lined with three-storey tenements accommodating 70 shops and modelled on three historic tenements at the southern end of the site.

The Urban Renewal Authority, which awarded the project to Sino Land and Hopewell Holdings in 2009, required that the retail portion had to be wedding-related.

Poon said half of the shops would be wedding-related, such as Chinese restaurants, stores selling wedding gowns, florists, fashion studios, jewellers and accessories boutiques. Other units would offer alfresco dining, bookshops and "exquisite gifts".

The developers said some arrangements had been made to bring back the old businesses but gave no details.

Yip Mee-yung, who used to sell bridal accessories, said she quit the business after being forced out.

"I hope the developers will really honour their word and let me go back at a concessionary rent," she said.

University of Hong Kong architectural conservationist Lee Ho-yin said recreating old tenements was not good practice in heritage conservation because people would find it hard to tell the new from the authentic.