Hip restaurants are setting up shop in Wan Chai and property prices are forcing out the original population. It is the result of a decade long URA led urban renewal frenzy that saw not only the original urban fabric being erased but also a common identity being lost in the streets of Wan Chai to be replaced by the likes of Queen’s cube, Zenith and the soon to be completed Avenue and Hopewell II; all examples of projects that are ill fitted in the urban context, overburden the infrastructure and most importantly have forced out the resident population and local entrepreneurs.
Yes, many of the buildings may be gone but the community spirit is still alive. Pass through Wan Chai on a Thursday night and you’ll witness something extraordinary: local residents, musicians and artists enjoying an outdoor live music concert while sharing food and wine. This is one of the many examples of Blue House initiatives which actively involves the local community and brings residents together. It is not just the Blue House project that is reaching out. Many of the retailers, galleries and bars that have sprung up in the area have made Wan Chai their location of choice because of the authenticity, historic charm and pleasant neighbourhood atmosphere which they are keen to keep.
The government should stop creating the conditions and allowing high rise towers to be built in historic districts. Experience in other Asian cities and around the world show that when the government keeps the unique urban fabric intact, the community will take care of itself.
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Tags: heritage conservation