Legislator suggests a compromise on the redevelopment of ‘sneaker street’ (SCMP) 19th March 2007
The redevelopment of “sneaker street" in Mong Kok could be achieved without wholesale demolition or renovation, a legislator said yesterday.
Speaking on RTHK’s City Forum, Patrick Lau Sau-shing, from the architectural, surveying and planning constituency, said he had filed several possible development solutions with the Urban Renewal Authority last December that could satisfy all parties.
They included demolishing only residential floors of the old buildings,and retaining the street-level sneaker and sportswear stores that attract shoppers.
“The residents have to be moved out as the facilities are so inadequate in these old buildings. But that does not mean we need to wreck this established sportswear spot which every shopper knows," Mr Lau said.
Using this model, the URA could avoid the high cost of compensating the traders, he said.
The former professor of architecture at the University of Hong Kong led a research study since September that came up with possible solutions for the Mong Kok redevelopment.
“It is up to the URA directors to open their minds to new thinking. Why put the residents and traders on opposite sides instead of easing the tension between them," he said.
But Urban Renewal Authority non-executive director Fred Li Wah-ming, who is also a Democratic Party legislator, said the issue already had dragged on for far too long.
“If we were to delay the project further, the residents who had been waiting for already 10 years would have to wait even longer. The URA has to take the responsibility and act quickly," Mr Li said.
The plan to redevelop part of Sai Yee Street, Nelson Street and Fa Yuen Street, known for its profusion of sports-shoe shops and nicknamed sneaker street, was first announced in 1998 by the former Land Development Corporation.
Traders and residents are at odds over the URA’s plans to bulldoze the area.
Traders want the authority to renovate buildings so their businesses would not be affected. They also asked the authority to buy out landlords who wanted to move out. But residents, eager to move out, are demanding the authority buy their properties as soon as possible.
Lawmaker Chan Yuen-han yesterday suggested the board settle demands of residents, and discuss plans later.