Improving the quality of life for the less fortunate people makes a dire need of urban renewal and is the top priority of the URA
This is what it say on the Urban Renewal Athorities Website. HAHA! Read this HK Magazine article please! What they do in reality is a little different. They destroy old neighbourhoods instead of restoring them. They make sure Hong Kong has more luxury high rises, car parks, hotels and less heritage buildings with character, unique markets and shops. They need constant public pressure to do the right thing, because the are not Non-Profit. They want to make money. Now the Urban renewal Athority is evicting current market stall owners and shop owners without providing them any alternative in the area. Please write them an email and let's try to stop this insanity! firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is what I wrote about Graham Street Market in 2011:
The pictures are of Graham Street Market in Central. Graham Street Market is one of the oldest outdoor markets in Hong Kong. It's been around for 160 years. Even before Hong Kong became a British colony there was a bazaar on this site, selling provisions to the ships arriving in Hong Kong. Unfortunately the Urban Renewal Authority is planning to redevelop Graham Street and Peel Street. When they say redevelop they actually mean tearing down the old buildings and building higher, more profitable high-rises instead. This will affect 37 building and 78 shops. It will start 2015 and be completed in 2021.
The plan is to build a giant complex with two residential buildings, a 26-storey hotel, a 32-storey office building, a footbridge linking to the escalator and an underground car park (because we need more cars in Central for sure). They are also planning an "Old Market Street" a man-made tourist attraction, which will have nothing to do with reality and surely all the charm and authenticity of the market will be lost. They will be selling traditional products and handicrafts. Sounds like the Ngong Ping Old Town to me, a disney-esque tourist attraction on Lantau selling Babushka dolls and other kitsch to mainland tourists. I fail to see how "Old Shop Street" can be of any interest for a tourist wanting to experience the many sides of Hong Kong, as gritty and dirty as they can be. Graham Street Market may not be pretty at times, but it's GENUINE and vibrant. The real Hong Kong, a real outdoor wet market, not the URA's version of it. Instead of just renovating the buildings, like it is done in most places in the world the URA instead tears down most of the ones built in 50s and 60s, keeps the facade of the pre-war buildings and fills in the rest with hotels, luxurious apartments and other crap not catered to the existing residents of that area, but for richer class with more consumer power. Local residents are relocated and compensated. If compensation for something like that is even possible. The corner house of Wellington Street and Peel Street was housing one of the oldest shops in that area selling eggs, groceries and dried goods called Wing Woo Groceries, which was in business for more than 80 years and closed in 2009. The URA offered the owner compensation and he retired due to old age. The shops interior will be preserved for a museum.