Despite its small area and relatively short history, Hong Kong has grown into a patchwork of neighbourhoods with unique appeal over the past few decades. They are, however, also undergoing changes constantly, thanks to urban renewal and other development needs. While some old districts have thankfully transformed without losing their souls and characters, others have sadly disappeared or turned into nothing more than eyesores. Historic Kowloon City is at the crossroads of transformation. Under the ambitious blueprint unveiled by the Urban Renewal Authority recently, parts of the area near the old airport will be revitalised into a “liveable and walkable community” with a gateway to the redeveloped area of Kai Tak. The project has promised 4,350 new flats, better municipal facilities, more green space and on-street shops that reflect the neighbourhood’s characters. The area has been undergoing gradual transformation since the airport was moved to Lantau Island in 1998, triggering patchy private redevelopments that lack holistic planning and coordination. The HK$15 billion (US$1.9 billion) Lung Shing redevelopment project, the authority’s second largest to date, has raised hopes of better connectivity and integration. But it also comes with concerns, with hundreds of properties, shops and households affected. Also at stake are the cultures and characters unique to the decades-old district. The dense and low-rise blocks used to be the first impression for visitors touching down at the old airport. Hong Kong renewal project to create more than 4,000 flats in Kowloon City It was also customary for many Hongkongers to drop by for a quick meal after returning from overseas or sending off friends and relatives. The area is now home to a sizeable Thai community and other ethnic groups. There is also an array of old shops and restaurants frequented by residents living near and far. The potential of the district has been further enhanced by the opening of the new rail line nearby. Hong Kong’s limited urban living space and strong appetite for new development means many places with unique characters are facing threats of demolition. But with proper planning and coordination, there is hope to breathe new life into Kowloon City without killing its culture and character.