Graham and Peel Street Market The death knell for the 150-year-old Graham and Peel Street Market was sounded back in 2007, when the Urban Renewal Authority announced that it would tear down the market to make way for two residential blocks, a hotel and an office tower. To compensate, the URA says that it will create an “old shops street” to showcase Hong Kong’s historical brands. 33-Storey Hotel Having already received permission to build a 30-storey residential tower at 20-26 Staunton Street, Sino Group has currently submitted to the government a plan to turn the site into a boutique hotel (you can check out the application notice if you walk past the building). Law believes the consequences for the area will be disastrous if the plan is allowed to go ahead. “Given that the streets are so narrow, you can imagine how bad the traffic will be if a 30-storey hotel is built,” she laments. Batten adds, “The Town Planning Board previously rejected a similar application from Sino to build a ‘multi-functional’ commercial building—this design looks very similar except it is a hotel. It will set a precedent of allowing a commercial building within the SoHo area. We need to strongly oppose this because a large development like this will destroy the low-rise residential character of SoHo.” The project is currently in the public comment stage, so submit your views on the project to the Town Planning Board by August 7. Email firstname.lastname@example.org , quoting project reference code “A/H3/390” H19 Residential Development The original H19 plan comprised three sites, labeled A, B and C, on Staunton Street, Wing Lee Street and Bridges Street, where the URA proposed two high-rise buildings and one mid-rise residential block—including an apartment block sitting on top of Bridges Street Market. After huge public resistance, the authority decided to keep sites A and B low-rise. However, a 28-storey building is still slated for site C, meaning that the privately owned, newly renovated tong laus (old Chinese tenement buildings) at 60-66 Staunton Streets remain threatened. This plan may change once again, pending the results of a hearing at the Town Planning Board held on July 24, when the four owners of the tenement houses petitioned for their properties to be excluded from the H19 plan. The Central Police Station The future is still uncertain for the old Hollywood Police station following the Jockey Club’s rather embarrassing unveiling of their hugely unpopular (and subsequently scrapped) “glass tower” plan. “It’s been a lot more difficult for the Jockey Club than they previously envisaged,” says Batten. “There was little public support for their original plan, and now, due to public pressure, the Jockey Club has to be subjected to an Environmental Impact Assessment from the Environmental Protection Department.” This means that they will have to tell the authorities how each building will be used, and from there it will have to be decided what kind of renovation will be needed. Hollywood Road Police Quarters What’s happening with the old police married quarters remains to be seen, but a Development Bureau representative says this: “We are exploring how to revitalize the site for creative industries and educational use. We will also set out the key requirements and development parameters for the site. We shall take this opportunity to address the community’s aspiration for more open space in this neighbourhood and provide quality open space in the area.” Batten hopes that the bureau will remain committed to doing what’s best for the community. “Using it for creative industries is a rather narrow use for this site. I hope that whatever they do with the area, they will grant 24-hour access to community members, and provide green, open space that everyone can enjoy.” Tong Laus Unfortunately, redevelopment doesn’t just extend to the dilapidated areas surrounding SoHo; renovated tenement houses (referred to as tong laus) are equally threatened, despite the fact that owners have spent much of their own money and time to preserve and transform these buildings. Take the building that currently houses the banking firm IRG at 67 Staunton Street. It’s owned by Managing Director Juliette Chow, who in an earlier interview in July 2008 expressed dismay that her $13 million project—both a home and an office—was being threatened by the URA wrecking ball. “I wanted to do my part to keep Hong Kong’s culture alive. This building might not be considered special by everyone, but it’s certainly different to most high-rise office blocks,” she said. Hopefully, the URA will one day see the difference too.