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Hong Kong housing

Discovery Bay Marina Club stands by evictions of boat owners and says renovation will make it world-class

Officials add that they have no plan to fill in and build on their Lantau Island property

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2018, 9:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2018, 9:32am

A decades-old Hong Kong marina at the centre of an eviction row will be reborn as a world-class sailing and pleasure boating facility, according to officials at the club which runs it.

On Monday, the Discovery Bay Marina Club issued a statement laying out its legal right to clear the facility and its plans for its future, weeks after it told 200 boat-dwelling families to leave the marina they call home by December 31.

The club, owned by Hong Kong Resort Company, a principal subsidiary of HKR International (HKRI), said it had no plans to reclaim the Lantau Island marina for other purposes. It rejected persistent rumours that it planned to fill in and build on the marina, once it was closed.

“Specifically, there is no plan to landfill the marina as part of the renovations. The marina will reopen after renovation with a brand-new design, modern technology and more berths, and a new operation model will be implemented,” the statement read.

It added that the renovation would be “extensive and complex”, requiring the entire marina to close for the duration.

“The new marina is expected to meet the needs of Hong Kong’s growing sailing and pleasure boating community. Information on the new marina and operation model will be announced when they become available. Until then, members and the public are welcome to express their interest in future membership,” the statement read.

Acknowledging the wave of concern over the families’ plight – including an online petition calling for a delay or reversal of the eviction, which had more than 13,000 signatures by 7pm on Monday – the club pledged to respond to members’ concerns “directly” once it had “consolidated” the responses received so far.

Owners of boats at the marina, which began operations in 1989 and is adjacent to one of Hong Kong’s best-known private residential developments, secured their homes at the facility under a debenture scheme, which the club has also defended. Boat owners pay a lump sum for the debenture – an agreement handing them a berth – as well as monthly subscriptions.

The club insisted it was exercising its contractual right to redeem the debentures when they become repayable on December 31.

“The club membership and the associated licence agreement for berthing will also cease on the same day. The club expects members to adhere to the contractual framework governing the parties’ relationship,” it said in the statement.

Ueli Tschupp-Lambert, who has run a security consultancy business from a boat on the marina since 2009, said the club should not have “dangled the carrot on a stick over the past two years”. It had promised renovations, possibly involving moving the boats around but eventually letting them back in, he claimed.

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“What no one expected was a straight-up eviction notice with no indication of being allowed back in after the ‘renovations’,” the 52-year-old said.

Tschupp-Lambert said he had made a police report after a letter from HKRI sent to boat owners on August 31 stated it would seize, remove and destroy boats on January 1, 2019, if they were not removed.

“Suspending or cancelling a club membership is one thing, but this is announcing a criminal offence will be committed, in writing,” Tschupp-Lambert said.

His boat was owned by his company and he would seek police protection to prevent his company assets from being touched, moved or destroyed, he said.