16 March 2010

Urban Renewal = Sustainable Development of Hong Kong (Developer)?

Urban renewal is one of the long term policies in Hong Kong. It's taken so long, at least 10 yrs from mere idea to realisation, and that most locals don't have such a long attention span for something not as "explosive" as a suspected corruption case.

There is a dedicated statutory body taking care of it. However, property development is a commercial activity which needs involvement from the private sector.

What can we expect from the great vision of urban renewal? Let's look at the URA mission and vision and her priorities:

Our Vision
To create quality and vibrant urban living in Hong Kong - a better home in a world-class city.

Our Mission
To realise our Vision, we act on our priorities with ingenuity and sensitivity, join forces with our partners and nurture our people.

Our Priorities are

to accelerate redevelopment by replacing old buildings with new to provide a better living environment and neighbourhood;

to enable and encourage the rehabilitation of dilapidated buildings to prevent urban decay;

to preserve by maintaining and restoring buildings of historical and architectural value, and to sustain local characteristics;

to revitalise through enhancing and strengthening the socio-economic and environmental fabric for the benefit of our urban communities.

OK, let's look at some of the projects URA involved from here, here and here. It's up to you to judge whether these projects met URA's mission and vision, but I'm quite sure that most of the original tenants are no longer living or doing business in the same area. What replaced the small shops is the same, big shopping mall or a very tall building with a mammoth size base structure. Since the sites are usually small in old district with a few storeys building in the surrounding, the local calls those "Toothpick building". It doesn't mean it's fragile but like a toothpick standing upright.

As the name suggests, urban renewal, all sites are located in the urban area where land supply is rare. Flat price is sky high. The partner private developers not just benefit from flat selling, they also create a long term money feed from peripheral services like estate management and shops rental.

When this city is getting old, more renewal projects will start, and more business the developers can do. This is what the Gov't calls Sustainable Development.

1 comment:

  1. As an expat who's new to HK, I've been surprised by just how little thought goes into making the environment habitable for humans. It seems like from the beginning, this colony was all about maximizing profits, and economic efficiency is best served by cramming people as closely together as possible. Surrounding everybody with shopping malls certainly helps to make people spend more, but it is the exact opposite of sustainability...as is nearly everything in HK.


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