SOCIETY

IN PICTURES: End of an era for Hong Kong's Graham Street as vendors trade places

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 March, 2015, 1:07am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 March, 2015, 3:58pm

For 140 years, vendors have sold their wares in Graham Street, site of the city’s oldest wet market. Soon, the area will completely change, as the Urban Renewal Authority replaces the street market and surrounding sites with HK$3.8 billion worth of housing, retail space, offices and a hotel.

The announcement of the project in 2007 sparked an outcry and the URA eventually relented, so 11 vendors will be able to sell fresh  food in a new retail space due to open early next year. They gave up the right to tens of thousands of dollars in compensation for moving out and can continue to operate from their current sites, a URA spokesman said.

But other businesses in the redevelopment area –  three sites bounded by Gage Street, Cochrane Street, Wellington Street and Kin Sau Lane  – will have to close their doors by Tuesday.  

Restaurants and shops selling dry goods were told in 2011 they could keep renting their  premises, but the lease must be renewed annually and they must move out when the builders move in.

“[Other] operators fully understand that they will have to return the premises to the URA on the designated date for redevelopment,” the spokesman said.

Some 17 shops have already been vacated, with about a dozen more to close in the next week.

Democratic Party district councillor Ted Hui Chi-fung  said it was unfair that only fresh-food retailers could stay. “The URA should review its policy,” he said. “Why aren’t restaurants and  well-known shops allowed to stay?”

The URA said a 2007 survey found priority should be given to fresh-food retailers. Offering new leases to some shops would be unfair to businesses that had already moved, it said. The project  is due to be completed in 2021.