Yue Man Square, which was once the bustling heart of Kwun Tong, lies half empty after the original businesses moved out and the Urban Renewal Authority was unable to re-let their units temporarily - because of illegal structures.
Only a few fast-food shops remain in the rundown square, where residents once could buy almost everything from lavish meals in restaurants to a bowl of noodles, tofu dessert and sugar cane juice from the smaller vendors. Visitors could easily pick up watches, CDs and DVDs, clothing and cosmetics.
"We thought of leasing the shops but it is impossible because illegal structures exist in most of the units, such as balconies stacked up at different levels," a spokesman for the authority said. "Removing them would bring structural problems," he said.
Although most residents and businesses have moved out, the square, near the Kwun Tong MTR station, continues to be the traffic hub for people livingnearby.
The authority has split the redevelopment site into five areas and Yue Man Square was the last to be cleared for the project, involving 1,653 property interests and 5,000 people.
Acquisitions started in 2008 and the first operation will be launched in June to remove the last holdouts - numbering 69 - in one of the areas.
The entire redevelopment is scheduled for completion in eight years.