World Faith, which paid $191m, will destroy the complex, paving the way for an eight-storey retail development World Faith, a 90 per cent owned subsidiary of China Resources Enterprise (CRE), is the Garley Building's new owner after paying $191 million for the infamous complex at a public auction yesterday. The Nathan Road building, destroyed by a fire in November 1996, will be torn down and resurrected as an eight-storey Japanese Ginza-style shopping mall. Construction is expected to be completed by late 2005. 'We want to give a new image to the property [and] try to remove the bad memories associated with the building from Hong Kong people,'' CRE executive director Lau Pak-shing said. 'We will knock down the old building and develop a new one immediately. There is no office space in the building. And we do not intend to build a tall tower on the site.' The Garley Building fire was sparked by a welding torch used during the installation of new lifts in the 16-storey office complex. Forty people died in the blaze and 81 people were injured. Mr Lau said the company would embark on redevelopment of the property as soon as possible and he believed the new development would give a fresh look to Hong Kong. CRE will invest another $120 million in the construction of the building. Together with the more than $100 million the company paid for ownership of the building from a large number of individual owners, total investment will be between $400 million and $500 million. Mr Lau said that prior to the auction, the company owned 99 per cent of the building but failed to persuade the remaining 1 per cent of owners to sell their stakes. As a result, the company applied to the Lands Tribunal for a public auction, which would allow any interested parties to bid for the old building. Mr Lau said he was happy to see the fate of the Garley Building finally decided after the company had spent years trying to acquire full ownership from the many individual owners. He said the company was optimistic about Hong Kong's retail market as tourist arrivals had improved recently. The expected influx of individual mainland tourists after travel restrictions were eased by the central government would also boost the sector, he said. Mr Lau said the property, when completed and fully leased, would reap an investment yield of about 8 per cent per year. Asked when the investment would break even, Mr Lau said: 'It will take some time.'