The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announced in February this year that they want to "redevelop" the Peel and Graham Street market. The headlines mostly read like this one from Singtao Daily: “URA spending $3.8 billion to build an Old Shop Street in Central.” It sounds like big spending for the good of the city. Many people who heard the news heard the government’s message – the streets are old and dirty and the URA has come to the rescue them. Heck, they’ll even spend a little extra to “bring old Hong Kong back” by “recreating” the pre-war street scene with a few three-storey buildings (in addition to the high-rises). They even promised to build a “green corridor,” to add a touch of nature to the area. But is that all there is? Apparently not. Here we present the information the URA has submitted to the Town Planning Board but rarely shown to the public, along with our own explanation of how it will likely look. Hawking activity will be "preserved" THE URA SAYS: “The open market at Graham Street and Peel Street, being one of the local features, will be retained... Hawkers’ stalls can be set up in the public open space.” Ma explains that the new buildings will be “set back” so there will be extra space for street stalls to line up along the streets. THE TRUTH IS: The URA says stalls “can be” set up, but how? One conservationist who does not want to be named, says, “If I paid a lot for a luxurious flat there, would I want a street market stall to be in front of my building? Would any shops want that to happen?” Paul Zimmerman raises another concern: “The construction will take years. Will the hawkers be able to wait that long before they can start their business in the area again?” The market will most likely be wiped out when the construction starts. URA’s plan to reintroduce hawking activity into the area sounds very unlikely. The area would be “redeveloped” THE URA SAYS: All the buildings but three pre-war ones in the area will be torn down. Four new buildings will be built there, linked by “a green corridor.” URA’s brief says, “The proposed redevelopment... will not give rise to unacceptable visual impact.” THE TRUTH IS: Those four buildings will all be high-rises – the two residential buildings will be 30 and 32 storeys high; the hotel 26 storeys and the office tower 34 storeys. Ma says the high-rise buildings are designed in a way so that they will not easily be seen from the streets – in the URA drawings, these buildings appear translucent. The truth is there are no translucent buildings, and it’s pretty hard to miss a massive high-rise. Building an Old Shop Street THE URA SAYS: To introduce a nostalgic vibe, the URA will preserve three pre-war buildings at 26A-26C Graham Street and build an Old Shop Street there with other new buildings built in the same architectural style as the three. The façade of Wing Woo Grocery, which is the oldest grocery store in Hong Kong with an 80-year-old history, will “be conserved subject to structural engineering feasibility study, as this building is structurally unsafe.” The URA believes this Old Shop Street will turn into a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong, similar to Xintiandi and Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai. THE TRUTH IS: The government will only preserve the façade of Wing Woo Grocery if it passes a feasibility study, and the landlord of that building has already applied for demolition. And again, the high-rises appear translucent and unobtrusive, but not if they showed you the whole picture. A “green corridor” will be built to beautify the area THE URA SAYS: A “green” walking corridor will link the east and west sides of the area, creating a rare green spot in this old neighborhood. THE TRUTH IS: If you look at the plan carefully you’ll notice there is actually something under that green corridor – an underground car park. Right now, no cars enter the area because the streets are used by the hawker stalls. After redevelopment, cars will have access via the intersection of Graham and Wellington. And imagine the amount of traffic four big high-rises will attract to that intersection – let alone the air pollution that comes with it. Graham Market is under threat of being torn down, Winnie Yeung and Ophelia Liu talks to the people on this matter.